Iran’s Ahmadinejad begins Latin American tour on Sunday
Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit has been referred to by U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) a “tour of tyrants.” (Marcello Casal Jr/ABr)
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is set to visit five Latin American countries, reports say, starting this Sunday with Venezuela. Nicaragua, Cuba, Ecuador, and Guatemala will follow.
Coming on the heels of Documentales Univision’s investigatory piece, “The Iranian Threat,” which revealed coordination between the two countries to cripple the computer systems of the White House, the FBI, the CIA, and several nuclear power plants, it’s no surprise Ahmadinejad chose Venezuela as his first stop.
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, released a statement where she labeled Ahmadinejad’s visit a “tour of tyrants.”
“Ahmadinejad’s upcoming tour of tyrants is just the latest indicator of Iran’s expanding presence in Latin America,” the statement reads. “Our Committee has held hearings and briefings on this issue, during which Members on both sides of the aisle expressed serious concerns. I plan to hold additional hearings and classified briefings, including a classified session later this month, to oversee what specific actions the Administration is taking to address this serious threat.”
The Iranian leader will be present at the inaugurations of fellow strongmen Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua and Otto Pérez Molina in Guatemala.
Guatemala’s visit wasn’t included in the first draft of the Iranian president’s schedule, but has since been confirmed.
Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, will receive Ahmadinejad next Thursday, who will be traveling with Foreing Affairs Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, Trade, Industry, and Mining Minister, Mehdi Gazanfari, and Energy Minister Majid Namjoo. According to the official Iranian press agency, IRNA, the goal of Ahmadinejad’s visit is “to help promote commercial ties.”
“Ahmadinejad’s desire to strengthen ties with anti-American dictators and expand Iranian influence in the Western Hemisphere directly threatens U.S. security interests, and continues a trend also followed by previous Iranian leaders,” wrote Ros-Lehtinen in her statement.
“Iran has extensive defense and economic partnerships with the Castro, Chavez, Ortega, and Correa regimes that endanger democracy and stability in the region. The Iranian-backed extremist group Hezbollah has also expanded its activities throughout the region since the 1994 AMIA attacks in Argentina, which Iran was behind. This is a threat which we cannot ignore,” added the Congresswoman.