Ahmadinejad is scheduled to tour Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba and Ecuador beginning Jan. 8. These countries belong to the “Bolivarian Alternative of the Americas” (or ALBA group), created by Hugo Chavez to advance Venezuela’s influence in the region. Reports also indicate that he might also visit Guatemala, to attend President Perez Molina’s inauguration on Jan. 14, which underscores Iran’s intentions to expand its influence beyond the ALBA group.
“Iran’s overtures to increase its inroads in Latin America—financially, politically and militarily—serve to disrupt efforts to isolate Tehran by strengthening international sanctions,” said B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs.
On state-owned television, Iran has stated that “all-out cooperation with Latin American countries is among the top priorities of the Islamic Republic’s foreign policy.”
Iran has been linked to the two bombings of the Israeli Embassy in 1992 and the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) building in 1994, with overwhelming evidence pointing to the direct involvement of high-ranking Iranian officials. Since 2005, Iran has opened six Latin American embassies and signed numerous economic cooperation agreements with the ALBA countries. Some have also pointed to the possibility that Venezuela and Bolivia could be supplying Iran with uranium for its nuclear program.
“Iran’s increasing efforts to build alliances in Latin America, even beyond the ALBA group, is endangering the peace and stability of the entire region. The United States and its friends in the region must remain vigilant to combat this increasingly negative trend,” said B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin.