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Venezuela’s Relations With Iran Unclear In Event of Chávez’s Death

first_img Chávez a frequent visitor to Tehran In recent years, Bolivia has also become a strong ally of both Venezuela and Iran. Last May, Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi visited the Andean nation to inaugurate the new College for Defense of the Bolivarian Alternative of the Americas (ALBA), an economic trading bloc founded by Chávez and former Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Last June, Ahmadinejad paid his third visit to Bolivia since the two established diplomatic relations in 2007, signing a $1.1 billion memo of understanding in the fields of agriculture, hydrocarbons, petrochemicals and health care. Morales has visited Tehran twice, once in 2008 and again in 2010. Ilan Berman, vice-president of the American Foreign Policy Council, said Iran has sent between 50 and 300 members of its Islamic Revolutionary Guard to Bolivia to serve as trainers at the school. “Iran’s involvement in the ALBA school serves as a microcosm of the Iranian-Bolivian relationship writ large,” Berman warned. “Indeed, regional experts now estimate that Bolivia could end up becoming as significant as Venezuela in Iran, both as a source of strategic resources for its widening nuclear program and as a hub for the Iranian regime’s expanding asymmetric activities in the Americas.” Ecuador’s Correa a ‘brother and friend’ of Iran Analyst: Drastic change in Venezuela ‘unlikely’ Since assuming the presidency in 1999, Chávez himself has made nine trips to Iran. His government has signed more than 200 agreements with Ahmadinejad, including joint ventures in a plastics mold factory, a binational bank and a $1 billion binational fund, as well as a deal to train 200 Iranians as petroleum technicians. In addition, Iran has invested in an automobile manufacturing plant in Valencia, as well as a tractor factory in Ciudad Bolívar; published reports also speak of Iranian contracts to build apartments for low-income residents of Caracas. And in 2007, the two countries established regular flights between Caracas and Tehran on Conviasa Airlines. Jaime Daremblum, Costa Rica’s former ambassador to the United States and now director of Latin American programs at the Hudson Institute, agrees with Bottome. “Iran plays an important role in Veneuzela, and the people who are close to the regime share that relationship,” he said. “A very drastic change would have to occur in the Venezuelan government, and I don’t see that happening for the time being. The chavistas, even without Chávez, will probably continue for some time.” He added: “If Chávez were to die and the regime continues, I don’t anticipate any change vis-à-vis the other countries,” he said. “Besides, the relationship Iran has with the other Latin American countries is not dependent upon its relationship with Venezuela.” For years, the growing friendship between Chávez and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has worried observers in the United States and Latin America because both leaders have used the oil wealth of their countries to spread an anti-Western and specifically an anti-Israel message. In late December, President Barack Obama signed into law the Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act — which obliges the State Department to develop a strategy within 180 days “to address Iran’s growing hostile presence and activity” in the region. Under President Hugo Chávez, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has aligned itself politically with the Islamic Republic of Iran, among the world’s most conservative Muslim nations. Chávez, 58, has also spearheaded Iran’s growing friendship with allies Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador and Nicaragua. Yet with the cancer-stricken president in a hospital in Havana, it’s unclear whether Iran will continue to have much influence in Latin America in the long term. For now, at least, “it will be more of the same,” Venezuelan analyst Robert Bottome, publisher of VenEconomy Weekly, told Dialogo n a phone interview from Caracas. “Everybody’s talking about the different factions competing for power, and in a year or more, that could make a lot of difference,” said Bottome, referring to Chávez’s hand-picked successor, Vice President Nicolás Maduro, and Diosdado Cabello, chief of Venezuela’s National Assembly. “But in the short term, all these guys have a tremendous interest in maintaining the status quo.” Bottome added that “objectively speaking, Venezuela is getting nothing. But if you assume we’re one of the countries that opposes the imperialists, then the alliance with Iran makes a lot of sense. Why would they want to change the relationship with Iran? It’s very productive for both of them.” On Jan. 10 — the day Chávez was supposed to be sworn in for a fourth six-year term as president — tens of thousands of his supporters staged a symbolic inauguration ceremony, their spirits boosted by the presence of three Latin American heads of state: Bolivia’s Evo Morales, Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega and Uruguay’s José Mujica. One of those other countries is Ecuador, which Ahmadinejad visited in January 2012, five years after his first tour of the region. During last year’s trip, he flashed the V-for-victory sign to admirers while riding through the streets of Quito in a convertible. At a news conference, Ahmadinejad called President Rafael Correa “a brother and a friend.” Later, the two leaders signed an agreement to deepen bilateral economic and financial cooperation. Iran opened an embassy in Quito in 2009 and is investing in several projects including hydroelectric dams. Ecuador, in turn, has received trade preferences for agricultural exports to Iran, while Tehran has promised up to provide its new friend with up to $400 million in petroleum derivatives. “The commercial benefit of the relationship with Iran has been small,” said Juan Carlos Donoso, a political science professor at Quito’s San Francisco University. “I don’t think it justifies muddying Ecuador’s name before the international community.” Besides the symbolism of defying the West, cozying up to Iran is part of Ecuador’s drive to open new markets, Donoso said. Although the United States remains Ecuador’s main commercial partner, China has become a major investor here, while the Quito government also is reaching out to Russia and other non-traditional trading partners. It also urges the Department of Homeland Security to step up surveillance at U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico “to prevent operatives from Iran, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, its Quds Force, Hezbollah or any other terrorist organization from entering the United States.” In addition, the new law outlines a multiagency action plan to provide security in those countries, along with a “counterterrorism and counter-radicalization plan” to isolate Iran and its allies. Iran now has 11 embassies in the region, up from five in 2005, and 17 cultural centers; besides Venezuela, it has particularly strong ties with Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua. Bolivia warms up to Iran too By Dialogo January 14, 2013last_img read more

Update on the latest in sports:

first_imgUpdate on the latest in sports: Golf returns to TV with charity skins matchUNDATED (AP) — Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson headline a $3 million charity match on May 17 that marks the return of televised golf. They will be partners against Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff in a skins match called “TaylorMade Driving Relief.” All the money goes to COVID-19 relief.McIlroy and Johnson will be playing for the American Nurses Foundation, while the Oklahoma State alumni team will be playing for the CDC Foundation.The match will be played at Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Florida. It will be the club’s first event to be shown on TV.VIRUS OUTBREAK-REAL HEROES PROJECT Share This StoryFacebookTwitteremailPrintLinkedinRedditNFL-OBIT-SHULAWinningest NFL coach Don Shula dead at 90MIAMI (AP) — Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Don Shula has died at his home in South Florida. He was 90. May 4, 2020 BOSTON (AP) — New Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo said on Monday that he is fully healthy and he will be ready for the season — if there is one.Verdugo has used the delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic to rehab a stress fracture in his spine he already had when Boston acquired him from the Dodgers in the deal that sent Mookie Betts to Los Angeles on the eve of spring training. At the time, the Red Sox said he was not expected to break camp with the rest of the ballclub; Verdugo had said he may be ready “slightly after” opening day.Verdugo said he remained active at home after the Red Sox complex in Fort Myers, Florida, was shut down. But things have been easier since he was allowed to return to the ballpark last week, and he is now working out four days a week. Because of social distancing mandates, the only other player he has seen there is pitcher Chris Sale.COLLEGE BASKETBALL-LOUISVILLENCAA accuses Louisville basketball of recruiting violations The Miami Dolphins say Shula died Monday morning.He won the most games of any NFL coach and led the Dolphins to the only perfect season in league history.Shula surpassed George Halas’ league-record 324 victories in 1993. He retired following the 1995 season with 347 wins, 173 losses and six ties, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997.Shula became the only coach to guide an NFL team through a perfect season when the 1972 Dolphins went 17-0. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross says that if there were a Mount Rushmore for the NFL, Don Shula would be chiseled into the granite. NEW YORK (AP) — Mike Trout and Gerrit Cole aren’t the only major leaguers with a big financial incentive to get back on the field.While they head a starry quartet that would take in more than $200,000 per game, 65 players would earn at least $100,000 each time their team wins or loses.That’s according to an Associated Press analysis of their contracts.Most rookies and those making the minimum would get nearly $3,500 each from a major league payroll of about $24 million per game. Clubs would benefit, too, with huge revenue streams flowing from regional sports networks and national broadcast contracts.GOLF-SEMINOLE MATCHcenter_img In other NFL moves:— The Dallas Cowboys have made room for new backup quarterback Andy Dalton by waiving the player who sat behind Dak Prescott for most of the past three seasons. Cooper Rush saw mop-up duty in five games. Prescott hasn’t missed a game in his four seasons. Dalton, a former Cincinnati starter, is guaranteed at least $3 million in his one-year contract.— Former third-round pick Nazair Jones was one of four players waived by the Seattle Seahawks as the team reached its 90-man roster limit. Jones, running back Adam Choice, defensive tackle Shakir Soto and linebacker Pita Taumoepenu were all released Monday. Jones was the only one to have played in a game for Seattle.MLB-RED SOX-VERDUGORed Sox OF Verdugo says he’ll be ready for start of season Sports greats celebrate health care workersUNDATED (AP) — New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, Hockey Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky and U.S. women’s soccer star Carli Lloyd are among the athletes who are participating in a project which will recognize and celebrate health care workers for their efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.“The Real Heroes Project” is a collaborative initiative among 15 leagues, including Major League Baseball, the National Football League, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League and Major League Soccer.Participating athletes will share a personal thank you message on social media utilizing #TheRealHeroes from today. Athletes will cover their name on their jerseys or uniforms and replace it with the name of the health care worker they are honoring.Public service announcements will debut on Wednesday across league and team platforms. Other leagues also are participating.,Tampa Bay Lightning advance to face Dallas Stars in Stanley Cup finals, beating New York Islanders 2-1 in OT in Game 6 LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Louisville has received a notice of allegations from the NCAA that accuses its men’s basketball program of committing a Level I violation with an improper recruiting offer and extra benefits and several Level II violations that accuse former Cardinals coach Rick Pitino of failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance.The notice is the completion of a nearly two-year NCAA investigation.Louisville acknowledged its involvement in federal corruption investigation of college basketball related to the recruitment of former player Brian Bowen II, which led to the ousters of Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich in October 2017.VIRUS OUTBREAK-BASEBALL SALARIESAP Exclusive: Trout, Cole top 65 to earn $100,000 per game NFL-BEARS-GINNBears sign Ted Ginn Jr. to one-year dealLAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — The Chicago Bears have signed wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. to a one-year contract.A 13-year veteran who has played in Super Bowls with San Francisco and Carolina, Ginn caught 30 passes for 421 yards and two touchdowns with New Orleans last season. He has 409 receptions for 5,702 yards and 33 touchdowns for Miami, San Francisco, Arizona, Carolina and New Orleans.Ginn has returned 257 punts for 2,600 yards with four touchdowns and 307 kickoffs for 6,899 yards and three TDs. He is one of 10 players to return two kickoffs for touchdowns in the same game. In 2009 he became the first to run back two for 100 yards in the same game. Associated Press last_img read more