by WorldTribune Staff, June 22, 2023
Iranian President President Ebrahim Raisi concluded a Latin American trip on June 16 by saying the Islamic Republic’s ties to the communist states he visited, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, are not a “normal but rather a strategic” relationship against foreign interference.
“Iran has just finalized a tour across Latin America’s authoritarian regimes, with a lot of anti-American rhetoric and several cooperation agreements. Its secret agenda does not presage anything good,” exiled journalist Arturo McFields Yescas, a former Nicaraguan ambassador to the Organization of American States, wrote for The Hill.
“Relations between Iran and Venezuela are not normal diplomatic ties. They are strategic,” Raisi said in Caracas, where he was warmly received by socialist dictator Nicolas Maduro.
“The nations of Iran and Venezuela have shared enemies, who do not wish us to live independently,” Raisi said in reference to Washington.
Maduro said he has plans to install a bust of Qassem Soleimani, an Iranian general who was assassinated in a U.S. drone attack in Iraq in January 2020, at the resting place of Simon Bolivar, a Venezuelan military and political leader who led parts of Latin America to independence from Spanish colonial rule two centuries ago.
In Caracas, Iran and Venezuela announced they are seeking to promote greater oil and commercial cooperation, going from $3 billion to $20 billion in the coming years.
Iran and Venezuela signed more than two dozen agreements. Several related to energy, including deals on developing an oil platform and a petrochemical products plant, while agreements were also signed on maritime transport, agriculture, medicine, information technology, insurance, and cultural ties.
Iran and Venezuela signed a 20-year cooperation plan last year during a Maduro visit to Teheran. The two dictators said last week that their new agreements are in line with better implementing the plan.
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega dedicated several minutes of a speech to Soleimani, after which he and Raisi observed a minute of silence for the general.
“We pay homage together with our heroes and martyrs to all the heroes and martyrs of Iran, in particular to General Qassem Soleimani, who was assassinated by Yankee imperialism when he was fighting against terrorism,” Ortega said.
Raisi railed against the sanctions that Washington has imposed on Iran and Nicaragua after the collapse of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and a crackdown on the Nicaraguan opposition.
“The U.S. wanted to paralyze our people with threats and sanctions, but it hasn’t been able to do it,” said Raisi, who also later addressed Nicaragua’s National Assembly.
Raisi and Ortega signed several agreements covering economic and trade cooperation and the health sector, according to Iranian state media.
In Havana, Raisi signed six agreements covering areas such as telecommunications, information technology, and portable services. The nations also announced the strengthening of exchanges between their ministries of justice and customs authorities.
Cuban dictator Miguel Díaz-Canel, who promised to bolster political engagement with Teheran, said: “When the president of Iran comes to our country under these conditions of sanctions against the nation of Cuba, it strengthens our faith and belief in Iran,” he said.
Maria Elvira Salazar, chairwoman of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere in the U.S. House of Representatives, told Fox News that Raisi’s trip demonstrates the failure of Joe Biden’s Latin America policy. Biden has “allowed the world’s worst actors to penetrate our hemisphere with impunity,” Salazar said.