Lima, Peru/Sao Paulo, Brazil: The presence of an Iranian vice president at the inauguration ceremony of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has sparked outrage in the Latin American Jewish community.
Mohsin Rezai, Vice President for Economic Affairs, represented Iran at Ortega’s inauguration on Monday.
The Sandinista leader, who has ruled the Central American country since 2007, was sworn in for his fourth consecutive mandate.
Rezai, who led the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for 16 years, is part of a group of Iranian officials who masterminded the 1994 bombing of the Argentine Israeli Mutual Association building, known by the Spanish acronym AMIA.
85 people were killed and more than 200 injured when an explosives-laden truck exploded at a Jewish center in Buenos Aires, a city with an estimated population of 200,000 Jews, the largest such community in Latin America.
A lengthy investigation by Argentine officials with the help of Israeli and US intelligence resulted in the 2006 arrest order of Judge Rodolfo Canicoba Coral against former Iranian President Ali Rafsanjani and other senior officials, including Rezai.
A member of the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah was also part of Canikoba’s arrest warrant. Since 2007, the group behind the bombing has been on Interpol’s wanted list.
The attack on AMIA was the second terrorist attack on Jewish targets in Argentina. Two years earlier, in 1992, an explosion at the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires killed 29 people.
Charges against Rezi were further strengthened by his own son, Ahmed, who left Iran for the US in 1998 and told US officials that the attack was planned by Tehran and that Hezbollah was involved.
After a short time in the US, he returned to Iran and withdrew his previous claims. He was found dead in a hotel in Dubai in 2011.
Rezai dismissed Argent’s allegations as “an outright lie” in a 2009 interview with the Los Angeles Times. He said he was traveling internationally and had never had a problem.
Indeed, he has not been detained because of his visit to Nicaragua. He not only attended the inauguration, but also met with Ortega, his wife and Vice President Rosario Murillo on Thursday, Sandinista newspaper E19 reported.
Fernando Lautenberg, the Organization of the American States Commissioner to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism, issued a formal rebuttal of Rezai’s visit to Nicaragua, emphasizing that he is “under Interpol Red Alert and Nicaragua, as such As a member of the institution, must be taken out of custody order.”
Lautenberg, the former head of the Brazilian-Israeli Confederation, told Arab News that he and other members of the Latin American Jewish community are concerned about the apparent proximity of Iran and some countries in the region.
“The Iranians have a long-standing relationship with Venezuela. The process seems to be reaching other countries.”
“Rizzi attended Ortega’s opening ceremony and also took pictures with Cuban leader Miguel Diaz-Canel.”
The Jewish community is “concerned about such ties established by nations in our region with an antagonistic and authoritarian regime,” Lautenberg said.
He said Nicaragua announced its intention to leave the OAS in November 2021, but the country still had to fulfill its obligations with the organization for two years. “It’s not an automated process,” he explained.
AMIA issued a statement on Tuesday reaffirming their demand to “closely monitor Iranian defendants when they leave their country, so that they cannot move freely through the nations that protect them.” “
The statement said: “Nearly 28 years after the attack on its headquarters, AMIA reiterates its unwavering commitment to the pursuit of justice and demands that those responsible for crimes against humanity be accompanied by constitutional guarantees established by law. Be prosecuted. Apna Desh.”
AMIA said the Argentine ambassador to Nicaragua Daniel Capitanich attended the ceremony and “did not leave the premises nor alert the authorities to such a dire situation.”
Over the past few days, opposition members of Congress in Argentina have condemned the administration of President Alberto Fernández for sending Capitanich to the inauguration.
The Argentine chancellor said Capitanich did not know Rezzi would be present. Later, the Argentine Foreign Ministry issued a statement opposing Rezzi’s presence.