Iran Looks for Partners in Latin America

Iran Looks for Partners in Latin America

By Julieta Pelcastre/Diálogo
September 07, 2021

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Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi met with Sacha Llorenti Soliz, a Bolivian and the executive secretary for the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA, in Spanish), on August 4, 2021, the Iranian government announced.

Several human rights groups targeted Raisi for his involvement in the executions of thousands of political prisoners in 1988, as he was “one of four judges presiding over the so-called ‘Death Committee’ tribunals,” the English news portal Middle East Monitor reported.

As such, Amnesty International demanded Raisi’s investigation for crimes against humanity. On August 11, the organization also pointed out that Iranian authorities “have yet again given their security forces free rein to inflict severe bodily injury on protesters to maintain their iron grip on power and crush dissent.”

Beyond the Middle East

Iran’s actions are not exclusive to the Middle East. The United States accused four Iranians of plotting to kidnap an Iranian-American journalist in New York who was reporting on human rights violations in Iran. The Iranians planned to abduct the journalist by speedboat to Caracas, and then to Iran, Reuters reported on July 14.

On June 9, two Iranian warships, a frigate and the Makran tanker, converted into a floating naval base that authorities suspected were carrying missiles to Venezuela, took a last-minute turn toward the North Atlantic, after the United States and other states exerted pressure on Caracas to prevent the ships from disembarking in its ports, the U.S. news portal Politico reported. Both vessels had to dock in St. Petersburg, Russia, on July 24, the Iranian newspaper Tehran Times reported.

Since 1979, Iran has attempted to build ideological, strategic, and military bridges with several Latin American and Caribbean countries, particularly those aligned with anti-American ideologies, the U.S. digital magazine National Interest said on August 12. However, Iran has suffered several setbacks in those regions in the Americas, the news portal said.

 “Its investments in Venezuela did not accrue expected political dividends in the region. Its planned mining ventures with Ecuador petered out owing to U.S. sanctions. A joint military school that Tehran had planned to build in the altiplano regions of Bolivia was scrapped after Evo Morales lost his presidential bid. Elsewhere, in Nicaragua, the relationship has soured over loan repayment issues,” National Interest said.

Raisi’s statements suggest that he could use ALBA as a bridge for diplomatic, commercial, and ideological expansion in Latin America and the Caribbean, National Interest added.

“Our message to President Raisi is the same as our message to his predecessors, and that is very simple: The U.S. will defend and advance our national security interests and those of our partners,” Ned Price, U.S. Department of State spokesperson, told Reuters on August 5. “We hope that Iran seizes the opportunity now to advance diplomatic solutions.”