Authoritarian countries such as China, Iran, and Russia have found a gateway through dictatorships in Latin America to gain influence in the region, according to the report Latin America Needs a Wake-Up Call, from the U.S. think tank The Heritage Foundation.
“These nations take advantage of corruption in Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela to gain influence, manipulate electoral processes, infiltrate the government, and take over strategic commercial sectors,” the foundation indicated. “Socialist regimes combine corruption with authoritarianism.”
“The dictatorial consortium in the Americas is led by Cuba and includes Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Bolivia,” Carlos Sánchez Berzaín, director of the U.S.-based nongovernmental organization Interamerican Institute for Democracy, told Diálogo on September 16. “The Cuban dictatorship will be 65 years old, Venezuela 24 years old, Bolivia since 2006, and the return of Sandinismo in 2007.”
The goal of Teheran, Beijing, and Moscow in Latin America is to create a single territory in the region, controlled by this alliance in order to achieve expansion, Panamanian news site PanamPost reported.
“Dictatorships are narco-states that concentrate power and manage domination by means of state terrorism, through the judiciary, or the force of government groups to create fear in the population and, through that fear, push behaviors that otherwise would not be possible,” Sánchez said.
These powers maintain a firm presence in Venezuela, exercising their influence in the political, geostrategic, ideological, and military spheres. This incursion, according to a report by the New Granada Military University, in Colombia, creates a destabilizing effect in the region.
The report also points out that the Russian aspiration in Venezuela to increase its influence in the Caribbean is public knowledge. Meanwhile, China is focused on establishing trade relations, a strategy that Beijing usually employs to consolidate its geopolitical presence in different parts of the world.
The scenario presented by Iran is even more complex, since its presence is closely linked to Islamic fundamentalism and terrorist activities for its own interests, taking advantage of the Venezuelan border, which is too weak, the report says.
From Teheran to Caracas, a transregional network is being created through air and sea routes that facilitates the illegal trafficking of drugs, money, and weapons, in support of the Iranian terrorist group Hezbollah and armed groups in the Latin American region, the Heritage Foundation indicated.
“Latin American dictatorships lack popular support and lose credibility in their respective revolutions and change processes,” Sánchez said. “Their survival depends largely on their involvement in organized crime activities, which leads to frequent conspiracies.”
Iran is also cooperating with the Venezuelan regime to manufacture war drones, disguising them under commercial agreements, Colombian daily El Tiempo reported. “This marks the establishment of the first armed drone program in Latin America. Venezuela wants to export them.”
Nicaragua also seeks to consolidate its relationship with Beijing, Moscow, and Teheran. However, these relations are leading the country into a dangerous scenario, because the aforementioned countries want to make Latin America a territory that can threaten the United States, Nicaraguan platform Despacho 505 reported.
Russia, China, Cuba, and Iran do not bring benefits to the Nicaraguan economy, 100% Noticias reported. The loans that Managua receives from Russia are only for weapons and tanks. The struggles with the United States will not bring it economic salvation with regimes that claim to have economic lifelines, the news site added.
“Despite attempts to forge a global alliance of dictatorships this strategy is not yielding positive results, since dictatorships outside this continent also do not have the resources to satisfy the demands of the Castro-Chávez dictatorships,” Sánchez said.
The Nicaraguan dictatorship and its allies seek to manipulate information in its entirety in order to silence dissidence. The Sandinistas have alliances with the Kremlin’s disinformation tools RT and Sputnik, independent newspaper Nicaragua Investiga reported. Venezuela, through Telesur, trains the Ortega-Murillo propagandists.
In June, Havana and China signed a confidential agreement whereby Beijing will install a new electronic espionage base on Cuban soil to intercept various forms of communication in the region. In exchange for this collaboration, the Chinese regime will provide billions of dollars to the Cuban dictatorship, Nicaragua Investiga reported.
But China’s plans in Latin America go beyond espionage from Havana. Since the turn of the century, China’s People’s Liberation Army has made more than 200 visits to Latin America and the Caribbean and operates 11 satellite tracking bases throughout the region, the Heritage Foundation indicated. It also controls 251 docks in 43 ports around the world.
These authoritarian countries establish agreements covering Chinese corrupt loans, Iranian military and cultural penetration, Russian military penetration, nuclear development and energy issues with Moscow, to form an international bloc in alliance with Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Bolivia against the West and gain influence in the region, Sánchez said.
Relations with China, Iran, and Russia indicate risks for democracies and economies: they undermine transparency and accountability. They increase economic subservience, corruption and lack of environmental regulations. They weaken critical voices in the face of human rights violations and favor disinformation and propaganda for dictatorships and authoritarian regimes, says Argentina’s NGO Fundación Libertad.
“There is significant concern related to the coexistence of democratic governments and dictatorships in the region. Some do not openly recognize that the only way to guarantee freedom and democracy is to put an end to dictatorships, starting with Cuba’s,” Sánchez concluded.