On May 19, U.S. Navy Admiral Craig S. Faller, commander of U.S. Southern Command, said that he views “with concern” Iran’s activities in Venezuela, with the shipment of crude in tankers and the country’s interest in controlling the Latin American region.
“I view Iran’s interests with concern […]; we’re tracking that closely and sharing intel with our partners” in the region, the U.S. military high commander said during a presentation at the 5th Annual Hemispheric Security Conference.
Adm. Faller insisted on the need to continue creating “strong partnerships with democracies” in Latin America and the Caribbean to confront “threats” from countries such as Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba.
“We are in a neighborhood; we have to focus on common values, on common cultures. We are connected. Our hemisphere is mostly democratic, despite some exceptions such as Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua,” he said, while emphasizing that “partnerships benefit everyone and are a good mechanism to combat threats in the future.”
Adm. Faller said that drug, arms, and human trafficking also pose a major threat to stability in Latin America and the Caribbean. He referred not only to Iran’s activities, but also to other countries, such as Russia and China, which “are trying to impose their world order on the hemisphere.”
Corruption in Venezuela is another of SOUTHCOM’s major concerns, which they are analyzing in detail, he said.
The U.S. government has sanctioned Venezuelan officials, including members of the government and companies that work with the Nicolás Maduro regime.
In Adm. Faller’s opinion, the serious humanitarian, political, and economic crisis in the South American country has triggered the exodus of thousands of Venezuelans in recent months, which may increase due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The corrupt institutions of illegitimate president Nicolás Maduro have caused some 5 million Venezuelans to leave the country. COVID-19 has also affected the [country’s] economy and security. This poses a concern, as it may end up being another threat to regional stability in the future,” he added.
For this reason, he stressed that the strategy is to build “a bridge” that goes “from what we are today to what we want to be.” The goal, he said, is to consolidate a “safer, more prosperous, and freer” region.