[News] Iran and Latin America

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jan 21 15:40:31 EST 2010


January 21, 2010

The Press Stirs the Pot

Iran and Latin America


Should the United States be concerned about 
Iran’s determined efforts to reach out to Latin 
America? Or, as was suggestively described in the 
Economist, by the Ayatollahs’ strategy of cozying up to Latin America?

The US continues to see the world as its own 
business. It gives itself and its allies, most 
notably Israel, the right to geopolitical 
maneuverability. Iran, on the other hand, is 
censured, derided and punished for even its own 
internal policies, within its own borders. Thus, 
an Iranian move into Latin America is naturally 
viewed as unwarranted, uncalled for and most 
definitely dangerous as far as the US is concerned.

But Iran is not invading America geopolitical 
space per se. It is neither financing a terrorist 
group, nor involved in the ongoing narcotic war. 
More, there is no historical connection between 
an interventionist Iran and the bloody past of 
Latin America, including its former dictators and 
brutal juntas. In fact, Iran’s ‘cozying up’ to 
Latin American merely began in 2005. Since then, 
Iran has opened embassies in several Latin 
American countries and launched important joint 
projects that provided funds and work 
opportunities for thousands of ordinary people. 
There is no Iranian equivalent to the School of the Americas.

So why the alarm?

Paul McLeary of Aviation Week gives us a clue. 
Iran’s move “has set off a proxy conflict between 
Iran and Israel in South America, with the 
presidents of both countries logging 
frequent-flier miles to win friends in the 
region. One cause for concern among many analysts 
is the weekly flight between Caracas and Tehran 
(with a stop in Damascus) that Iran Air has flown for two years.”

He quotes Frida Ghitis: “Flight manifests are 
kept secret, so neither cargo nor passenger 
information is well known 
one Israeli report 
suggested that Venezuela and Bolivia are supplying uranium to Iran.”

Two questions emerge. One, is it required of 
Caracas and Tehran to provide a detailed report 
of the cargo and passengers to the US and Israel, 
and perhaps also cc-ed to a list of their friends and allies?

The second pertains to Israel itself. Why is the 
media most concerned by Iran’s ‘suspicious’ 
behavior in Latin America, despite the fact that 
its presence is welcomed by various countries in 
the hemisphere, while Israel - whose bloody 
involvement has wrought much chaos to South 
America - is simply unquestioned, and even cited 
as a credible source? There is no evidence to 
link Iran to death squads, or any Iranian firm 
with “an archive and computer file on 
journalists, students, leaders, leftists, 
politicians and so on” to be hunted down, killed 
or simply made to ‘disappear’ under brutal 
regimes. Israel’s own history in Latin America 
seems to inspire little commentary by the 
ever-vigilant ‘many analysts’. McLeary, Ghitis 
and others need to do their homework before 
leveling accusations against others. The book 
Dangerous Liaison: The Inside Story of the 
U.S.-Israeli Covert Relationship may be a good place to start.

Back to the lurking Ayatollahs in America’s 
backyard, Susan Kaufman Purcell is also raising 
questions, this time about Brazil. In Brazil 
President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva welcomed his 
Iranian counterpart, president Ahmadinejad late 
November 2009. In the January 7 Wall Street 
Journal, Purcell claimed: “Until recently, the 
Obama administration assumed that Brazil and the 
United States were natural allies who shared many 
foreign policy interests, particularly in Latin 
America. Brazil, after all, is a friendly 
democracy with a growing market economy and 
Western cultural values.” Purcell suggests that 
Brazil’s various achievements – largely 
beneficial to the US – qualified the country to become “more like us”.

The article infers, however, that Brazil is 
actually “not like us”. The fact that it dares to 
be different - by pursuing a Brazilian-centered 
foreign policy - shows the audacity of the 
deceivingly loveable Lula. The Brazilian 
president is apparently going rouge simply by 
deviating from Washington’s regional and 
international priorities. Amongst his many 
crimes: “Instead of expressing concern over 
Iran's activities in Latin America, Brazil is 
drawing closer to Tehran and hopes to expand its 
$2 billion bilateral trade to $10 billion in the near future.”

Another: “He reiterated his support for Iran's 
right to develop nuclear technology for peaceful 
uses, while insisting that there is no evidence 
that Iran is developing nuclear weapons.” And of 
course, Purcell doesn’t fail to remind us of “the 
weekly flights between Caracas and Tehran that 
bring passengers and cargo into Venezuela.”

Western media is indeed rife with all sorts of 
unfounded accusations, baseless speculations and 
superfluous insinuations. They evoke in the 
reader and viewer a dread and fear, based in this 
case on the doomsday scenario whereby fanatical 
Latin Americans and radical Muslims gang up on America, and ultimately Israel.

Now consider these appalling insinuations by the 
Economist. First it claims that the Brazilian 
President “offered support for Iran’s work on 
nuclear technology for (supposedly) peaceful use.” Note the word “supposedly”.

Then: One of the “instruments” of destabilizing 
Latin America is Iran’s production of “news 
programmes and documentaries for Bolivian 
television, no doubt to give a fair and balanced 
view of the Great Satan.” Note the writer’s 
insertion of the little irrelevant term “Great 
Satan” to convert the act of TV production that 
challenges Western mainstream media’s narrative into a menacing endeavor.

More: Brazil president talked “about Israel’s 
right to stay just where it is on the map.” Of 
course, Lula didn’t phrase it that way. This is 
the writer’s attempt to remind us of the claim 
that Iran has threatened to wipe Israel off the map.

Still, more: “
protesters waved banners reminding 
Mr Ahmadinejad that the Holocaust had indeed 
taken place”. This provides the big climax - the 
claim that Iran’s president has denied the Holocaust.

But why the charged, exaggerated commentary?

A seemingly random Economist ‘advertisement’ box 
embedded with the article, and another long side 
column at the magazine’s website reminds readers 
of “The Economist Debate Series – January 11-18.” 
The topic of the week, presented with an image of 
a warplane radar zooming in on the Iranian map, 
asks the question: “Is It Time to Strike Iran?”

After reading such unsubstantiated, yet 
disquieting analyses, how would most readers respond?

Ramzy Baroud is editor of 
His work has been published in many newspapers 
and journals worldwide. His latest book is 
Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a 
People's Struggle (Pluto Press, London). His 
newbook is, 
Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story” (Pluto Press, London).

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