BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, compared the bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish center which killed 85 people to “NATO bombings of Libya.”
Correa made the remarks Tuesday during a television interview with Argentina’s C5N news channel. Correa, who was in the country to receive an award, made the comments before a scheduled meeting with Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.
Asked about the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish Center in Buenos Aires, Correa replied, “I am familiar with the case, which is a very painful part of Argentina’s history. But look at how many died in the NATO bombings of Libya. If we compare these two events, we can see where the true danger lies.”
At least 72 civilians died in the NATO bombings, according to reports.
The Argentinian Jewish political umbrella DAIA expressed its “anger and extreme rejection” of Correa’s statements. Following the interview, its new president, attorney Julio Schlosser, invited Correa to visit the AMIA building and offered to help explain to him the details and history of the AMIA bombing. DAIA and AMIA share the same building.
“To compare a terror attack to a military campaign to assist Libyans seeking to overthrow a tyrannical despot is outrageous,” American Jewish Committee executive director David Harris said in a statement, in which he called the comments a “disgraceful assault on the memory of the 85 who perished.”
“Speaking so callously in Argentina displays extraordinary insensitivity on the part of President Correa. The attack on AMIA was an assault on all of Argentina. One would expect Latin American nations to be empathetic and supportive of Argentina’s efforts to bring those responsible, including Iranian officials sought by Interpol, to justice.”