On December 28, US President Barack Obama enacted the so-called “Countering Iran in Western Hemisphere Act” which seeks to undermine Iran´s growing relations with Latin America, a region that has traditionally seen by the United States as its backyard and sphere of influence.
The Act, passed by congressmen earlier this year, requires the US Department of State to develop a strategy within 180 days to “address Iran´s growing hostile presence and activity” in Latin America. The Act points out that “Iran´s business and diplomatic ties are a threat to US national security”. It is seen, however, as another anti-Iranian move fabricated by the Zionist lobby in the US.
Shortly before, in July 2011, Robert F. Noriega - former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere affairs, former US ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS) and current Visiting Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, one of the main neoconservatives -controlled entities in the US – said in a hearing before the House Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence that Iran was carrying out “an offensive strategy” in Latin America.
The Iranian presence in the Latin America has been also harshly attacked by the pro-Israeli hawk Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman and self-appointed bulwark against the alleged “Islamo-Boliviarian threat” to US security. She was co-star of a so-called “documentary” entitled “La amenaza iraní” (The Iranian Threat), in which she said, without blushing, that the US should attack Iran in order to “avert bomb explosions in various Latin American capitals”. The film was aired by Univision, a US broadcast network, which is owned by someone who has hosted galas in honour of the occupying Israeli army.
In 2009, another ridiculous “documentary” released by Univision involved Venezuelan consul in Miami, Livia Acosta, in an absurd cyber-plot against the US allegedly promoted by “Iranian diplomats and Mexican computer hackers”. This was the pretext used for expelling her from the United States in a move that was widely seen as an American political revenge for Venezuela´s independent foreign policy.
Actually, the US Act rudely violates Latin American countries´ sovereignty and contains some stupid claims such as that the opening of Iranian embassies or cultural centers is akin to “spread terrorism”. Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta also echoed those views by claiming, in a recent visit to Colombia, that Iranian attempts to expand its influence in South America amounted to expanding terrorism. Of course, no real evidence has ever been showed to support that laughable allegation.
“The paranoid nature of these estimations, and the scant evidence presented for them, are eerily reminiscent of the kind of broad-strokes, hawkish fear-mongering on display in the lead up to the war in Iraq. The testimony comes from a group bent on hyping security threats and, as Noriega admitted in the testimony, is not even in agreement with the State Department or intelligence agencies”, wrote expert John Glaser in a recent report.
The US accusations against Iran are also a way of targeting and casting suspicion on Latin American Muslims. In the Act, Washington speaks of “isolating Iran and its allies” and US officials accuse Iran or other pro-Iranian forces of “establishing mosques or Islamic centers throughout the region” in order to advance violent jihad “on our doorstep”.
US declining influence in Latin America
However, Latin American people know well that for over a hundred years it was the United States, and not another country, which wrought terror, war, poverty and repression throughout Latin America in the form of CIA-orchestrated military coups and support of paramilitary crimes, terrorism and dictatorial regimes. Military found guilty of the worst violations of human rights in Latin American countries were trained in the notoriously famous School of Americans by US officers.
Actually, the Act is another evidence that US influence in Latin America is rapidly waning. Latin American countries have developed their own policies and set up independent blocks -ALBA, UNASUR and CELAC- while the Organization of American States, which includes the US and Canada, has been declining due to its submission to US policies on issues such as Cuba´s participation in its summits.
Iran has been seeking to increase its relations with Latin America in a bilateral way and in the framework of the Non-Aligned Movement and other international organizations. This has irritated Washington, which still seems to consider Latin American countries as vassals not having the right to pursue an independent foreign policy or seek its own friends and partners. Any agreement between Latin American states and Iran –or Russia and China- always arouses suspicion in the US.
Several Latin American countries have enhanced their diplomatic and trade ties with Iran in recent years, while their relations with the US have been downgraded amid popular demands for an end to dependence on Washington. Although the United States is still the largest economic partner of many Latin American countries, its economic and financial crisis has adversely affected them. This has led some nations, such as Mexico, to announce their intention to diversify their commercial partners in the next years.
As international partner, the Islamic Republic is one of the best positioned to help Latin American countries develop their economies and their scientific and technological skills in many fields. The Iranian industry is highly developed. It has remarkable expertise in oil and gas exploitation and other sectors including health, defence, agriculture and space technology.
Iran has helped Venezuela build unmanned drone aircraft as part of their military cooperation. Referring to a Spanish media report that US prosecutors were investigating drone production in Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez said: “Of course we are doing it, and we have the right to. We are a free and independent country.”
In a televised speech to military officers at Venezuela´s Defense Ministry, Chavez said the aircraft only had a camera and was exclusively for defensive purposes. He said that Venezuela planned to soon begin exporting the unmanned drone. Moreover, Iran and Venezuela have mutual investment of about $ 5 billion in factories to make cement, satellites and tractors and the Iranians have helped the Latin American country build 14,000 houses.
Tehran has forged significant economic and political relations with the government of Evo Morales in Bolivia and with that of Rafael Correa in Ecuador. Iran´s links with Argentina, where Zionist circles have unsuccessfully tried to blame Iran for the AMIA attack in 1994, are also rapidly improving, as the government of President Cristina Fernandez is promoting a more conciliatory line towards Tehran.
Latin American countries, especially those that follow an independent foreign policy, trust Iran because they know that the Iranians cannot be pressured into betraying an agreement that disturbs the US or its allies. This is a main reason of Iran´s rising popularity in Latin America despite the propaganda of Zionist-owned media outlets and the US political and diplomatic actions.
HispanTV, the Spanish-language channel similar to the English-language Press TV channel, is also feared by the US establishment and Zionist circles because it is giving Latin American audience accurate information about the Middle East and international developments that exposes the lies of Zionist-controlled agencies and media. The recent expulsion of Hispan TV from the Spanish-owned Hispasat channel is, in this sense, a desperate attempt to prevent the channel from reaching mass audiences. However, this move, as other similar ones in the past, is doomed to failure.
Therefore, Latin American nations won´t allow the US to dictate their foreign policy on the issue of their relations with Iran or any other country. In fact, Washington has already had a sign of this when it tried to pressure these countries to vote against Palestine´s bid to gain the status of a non-member state at the United Nations. Only one country, Panama, whose government has strong links with the Zionist entity and the local Zionist lobby voted against it.
Al-Manar is not responsible for the content of the article. All opinions expressed are those of the writer's not Al-Manar’s or its staff.