Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (R) gestures to the media next to Cuba's Vice president Esteban Lazo at Havana's Jose Marti Airport January 11, 2012. Iran's leader is visiting four Latin American states., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Iran’s president visits ALBA countries
By Berta Joubert-Ceci
Published Jan 18, 2012 8:44 PM
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to four countries in Latin America and the Caribbean highlights the commitment of the members of the Bolivarian Alliance of Our America (ALBA) to defy U.S. threats and act as sovereign, independent nations.
When Ahmadinejad’s visit was first announced, U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland arrogantly warned: “We are making absolutely clear to countries around the world that now is not the time to be deepening ties, not security ties, not economic ties, with Iran.” (AFP, Jan. 8)
The threat boomeranged. Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba and Ecuador all deepened and expanded their ties with that Islamic republic during the five-day whirlwind visit, with regard to politics, economy, energy, infrastructure, industry and nanotechnology.
President Ahmadinejad has visited Latin American at least five times since he took office in 2005. “Besides the embassies in Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, México and Venezuela, Ahmadinejad opened new ones in Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Nicaragua and Uruguay. Bolivia chose to move its only embassy in the Middle East from Cairo to Teheran.” (Le Monde Diplomatique) Iran’s trade with Latin America tripled between 2008 and 2009, to nearly $3 billion.
First stop, Venezuela
Iran and Venezuela are both OPEC members. Arriving in Caracas on Jan. 8, Ahmadinejad and his ministers the next day reviewed old treaties and signed new ones in the areas of tourism, commerce, the environment, industry, energy, automotive technology, highway construction and science, including bioscience and nanotechnology, among others.
At a treaty signing ceremony, Ahmadinejad said: “The great capitalists of the world, … to compete in their elections they wage wars. For them, the peoples’ sovereignty is just a game in their elections campaign.”
In relation to the nuclear weapons accusations by the U.S. against the Iranian Republic, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez said, ”Without any proof they accuse Ahmadinejad of building atomic bombs, but how many atomic bombs does Israel have?” (Telesur, Jan. 9)
Both presidents pointed out that the U.S. is the real threat. President Chávez thanked the Iranians for contributing to build 26 food plants and 14,000 residences, with 7,000 planned in the city of Caribia.
Washington tried to sabotage the visit by expelling the Venezuelan consul in Miami, Livia Acosta Noguera, on Jan. 8, declaring her “persona non-grata” over the unfounded accusations in the documentary, “The Iranian Threat,” aired by the Spanish station Univision. (dailymail.co.uk) Venezuelan Exterior Minister Nicolás Maduro called this “a destabilization plan” orchestrated by Venezuelan counterrevolutionaries in Miami. (Telesur) President Chávez then closed the Miami consular office.
Ahmadinejad meets Daniel Ortega,
Fidel and Raúl Castro
By Jan. 10, Ahmadinejad was in Nicaragua for the inauguration of President Daniel Ortega’s second term in office. The Sandinista leader won more than 62 percent of the vote in last November’s election.
Nicaragua’s relations with Iran have strengthened since Ortega took office in 2007. In Nicaragua, Iran helps with the construction of a deep-water port and in the creation of a hydroelectric power generation plant, both essential for the development of the country.
President Ortega said of the
imperialists, “They still do not understand that it is necessary to find a real path to peace,” adding that Iran does not have nuclear weapons. He called on the nations that have them, like the U.S. and Israel, to get rid of them. (Telesur)
During this second visit to Revolutionary Cuba, Ahmadinejad met with Fidel and Raúl Castro and held a conference at the University of Havana. “Raúl and Ahmadinejad ratified the commitment of both countries to the defense of peace, international law and the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and the right of all States to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. They also reaffirmed their opposition to the application of unilateral economic sanctions.” (cubadebate.cu)
Commenting on the capitalist system, Ahmadinejad stated: “The decadence of capitalism, a system based on injustice, exploitation of others’ resources, and increased weaponry, [a system] which already is in a dead end alley in the political and economic scenarios, is unquestionable.” (cubadebate.cu)
Relations between the two nations are excellent, and they cooperate in the areas of energy, biotechnology and trade.
In Fidel’s recent “Reflections” on the Iranian president’s visit, titled “World peace hanging by a thread,” the Cuban communist examines the severe dangers from the sanctions against Iran and the recent killing of one of Iran’s scientists: “Anyone would be shocked at the tranquility with which the United States and civilized Europe are promoting this campaign with incredible, systematic terrorist practices.”
Ecuador, final stop
In Ecuador, Ahmadinejad arrived as the country was preparing to celebrate the fifth anniversary of its “Citizen’s Revolution,” as President Rafael Correa calls the process.
The Washington Post opened that day with an editorial attacking Correa, but the government and the people of Ecuador welcomed President Ahmadinejad quite warmly, with large crowds surrounding the Carondelet Palace, where the meeting was going on, shouting slogans and waving the Ecuadorean and Iranian flags. In Ecuador, 30 binational treaties were signed in the areas of energy, oil and food.
But besides these agreements, another important development took place. Both nations decided to create a “Common Front” to defend the countries and peoples threatened by the imperialist powers.
Correa stressed that Ecuador is “very concerned” by the imperialist intimidation against the nuclear policy carried out by Iran, and he condemned the double standards of the powers that “have not signed the Treaty of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons which Iran signed.” (Telesur)
Guided by historic memory, the people of these four countries welcome the friendly association with Iran. Simón Bolívar in 1824 wrote, “The United States appears to be destined by Providence to plague [Latin] America with misery.” And so it has, massacring and exploiting the people of the South and stealing their resources. It is only logical that the people of Latin America no longer look north for friendly relations.
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