"Che," Iran and the Bomb
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Ernesto "Che" Guevara is still remembered as a dashing revolutionary thirty eight years after his death on October 8, 1967 in the Yaro ravine in Bolivia. Today, the dreams - or nightmares - of "Che" live on in the actions of Venezuela's Marxist president, Hugo Chavez, assisted by his Islamic fundamentalist and Asian Communist friends.|
Venezuela was once friendly to the United States and a major U.S. supplier of oil. The name of the nation is now the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, in reference to 19th century liberator Simon Bolivar who advocated a united South America. Continent-wide unification of Latin America is a major project of Chavez. The politics and society of Venezuela under Chavez are increasingly Marxist, but the Bolivarian Republic, at least for now, remains a major oil supplier to the United States.
Chavez greets supporters behind a large poster of "Che" Guevara
Chavez is an admirer of "Che," and occasionally addresses crowds wearing a T-shirt bearing the cult revolutionary's image. Chavez also has decided to go nuclear, and develop atomic reactors for "peaceful" purposes. He has the friends to help him do it. If Chavez is successful in his nuclear bid, atomic bomb capabilities will belong to a man who considers capitalism as "savagery," and describes the United States as "the most savage, cruel, and murderous empire that has existed in the history of the world."
Venezuela is a member of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and is also the only member of the organization to support Iran's contention that the world has no business investigating its nuclear conduct.
The mullahs who control Iran are grateful to Chavez and his regime for their support. Although the IAEA voted to bring Iran's nuclear program to the attention of the Security Council, the Iranian government specifically thanked Venezuela for its support.
In turn, the Venezuelan ambassador to Iran, Arturo Gallegos, declared that the "brother nation" of Iran would continue to receive "unconditional support and the solidarity of the people Venezuela."
Both Iran and Venezuela claim that their interest in nuclear power is only for "peaceful" uses, but much of the world is skeptical. The United States has reason for deep concern, since both Iran and Marxist Venezuela consider the U.S. an archenemy, and there is substantial evidence that both nations support guerrillas operating against the U.S. and its allies. Venezuela is suspected of aiding Marxist guerrillas in Latin America, especially in neighboring Colombia, and Iran is reportedly aiding insurgents attacking U.S. and British forces in Iraq.
Chavez sports a "Che" t-shirt before the cameras
Chavez has eagerly pursued close ties with Iran. Following the July election of to the Iranian presidency of hard liner Mahmud Ahmadinejad, Chavez tossed diplomatic restraint aside and called Ahmadinejad directly to express his congratulations, and indicate his desire to visit Tehran for a "comprehensive expansion" of cooperation between the Bolivarian Republic and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Two months later, Iran and Venezuela signed a series of multi-million dollar business, financial, and technology agreements. Iran has also assisted Venezuela to develop the means to sell oil to China. In view of Venezuela's "solidarity" with Tehran, Iranian nuclear expertise will, no doubt, soon find its way to Chavez' Venezuela.
Iran may soon expand its ties with Latin America beyond Venezuela. The Brazilian ambassador to the Latin and Caribbean Group of Nations (GRULAC), Luis Antonio Fachini, is reported to have invited Iran to send representatives to speak to the organization, which is open to considering Teheran's views on matters of mutual interest.
While Chavez is courting Iran, he is also cementing relations with another nation more ideologically consistent with Venezuela's present Socialist course. Hector Navarro, one of the Chavez inner-circle, has referred to North Korea as a "model" for the Bolivarian Republic to follow, and is prepared to exchange ambassadors with the Stalinist Asian nation.
During his recent visit to the Bolivarian Republic, the president of North Korea's parliament, Yang Hyong Sop, declared his nation's support for Chavez and his regime. "It is very necessary to further strengthen the relations…between our two people…and …face the conspiracies of our enemies," Yang stated during a visit to Venezuela in late September.
North Korea has nuclear weapons, and friendship with the enigmatic Communist regime provides another source of technical support for his atomic ambitions. Since its founding in 1945 immediately after WWII, North Korea has been a determined foe of the United States, including the Korean War war from 1950 to 1953. A peace agreement has never formally ended the conflict.
Chavez' alliance with Iran and North Korea is potentially a very serious matter for the United States. It is time for America to understand these dangers, and rally democratic forces in the region.
Posted October 17, 2005
Toby Westerman publishes
International News Analysis - Today
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