Presidents Lula, Kirchner and Chavez Ronald S. Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) and Jack Terpins, chief of the Latin American Jewish Congress (LAJC), have both welcomed the signing of a joint declaration by the presidents of Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela this week at a summit in Costa do SauÀ­pe, in the state of Bahia, Brazil.

    In the document, Presidents Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, from Brazil; Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, from Argentina and Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez Frias unequivocally condemn "discrimination and religious intolerance, in particular, anti-Semitism and anti-Islamism…"

    In the declaration, the three chiefs of state also "reaffirm the fundamental importance of the total fulfillment of the obligations derived from the International Convention on the elimination of all the forms of racial discrimination" and "renew their commitment to continue working at national, regional and international level to fortify the mechanisms of promotion and protection of the human rights, in order to assure their total respect irrespective of race, color, sex, religion, or political opinions…"

    Lauder called the signing of the declaration "an important and very welcome step." He instigated this initiative when he met with President Hugo Chavez in Caracas on August 13, together with Terpins and Abraham Levy Benshimol, the head of the Venezuelan Jewish community.

    Lauder added that by supporting a clear condemnation of anti-Semitism, President Chavez had fulfilled the pledge given to WJC and LAJC leaders made at that meeting.

    "We appreciate this very much," the WJC president said. The head of the Latin American Jewish Congress, Jack Terpins, also praised the three presidents for this initiative and said: "We sincerely hope that other Latin American leaders will publicly endorse the declaration. That way, Latin America could set a positive example to other countries in the world."

    The World Jewish Congress is the international organization representing Jewish communities in over 80 countries around the world. The WJC serves as the diplomatic arm of the Jewish people to governments and international organizations. The Latin American Jewish Congress is the WJC's regional affiliate and federates the Jewish communities in Central and South America.

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