Category Archives: Central America

Anti-Semitism reaches into Central America

We are well accustomed to the conflation of issues when it comes to anti-Semitism, particularly the recent upsurge driven by such movements as Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) and its acolytes like Israeli Apartheid Week. However, in the Central American Republic of Guatemala, they have managed to take conflation to a whole other level.

Guatemala-Clínica-de-fertilidad-300x296Thousands of demonstrators in Guatemala used anti-Semitic language in protest against the country’s major power company, Energuate, which they thought was owned by an Israeli group.

“Jews have killed me on the cross. Now Jews from Energuate are killing my people in Guatemala with the light,” read the Spanish-language banners and posters at the protests. “Out with Jewish Energuate from Guatemala. Let’s unite for the nationalization of power electricity.”

IC Power completed the acquisition of Energuate in January for $265 million. Energuate’s two electricity distribution companies provide services for approximately 1.6 million households in Guatemala, representing approximately 60 percent of the country.

About 20,000 people took part in the demonstrations last week, in which placards were waved condemning “the Jewish power company.” This was based on the misconception that IC Power was owned by Israel Corporation – an error, as ICP’s parent company Kenon was spun-off from Israel Corporation in 2015.

The anti-Semitic material also included an image of a crucified Jesus and a New Testament passage about hypocritical “teachers of the law and Pharisees” neglecting justice, mercy and faithfulness.

Guatemalan protesters used anti-Semitic language during a demonstration against Energuate, a private power supplier owned by the Israeli company IC Power. (Estado de Israel news portal)
Guatemalan protesters used anti-Semitic language during a demonstration against Energuate, (Estado de Israel news portal)

An article on the website of Redes Cristianas, or Christian Networks, defended the use of an anti-Semitic tone in the protests, “This collective action is one of the last resources of peaceful resistance that people dispossessed and subjugated have to safeguard what little life and dignity remains the country.”

There has been social instability in Guatemala for years, and there are wide economic gaps among its population. The UK Foreign Office’s advice on travel to the country states: “Incidents of political violence, strikes and large demonstrations can occur, often with little or no notice. Although most demonstrations are peaceful, they can turn violent.”