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South America’s Dangerous Left Turn: Part II, Terrorist Alliances

It is no secret Iran has been conducting a secret nuclear weapons program right under the nose of the global community. The sense of urgency to prevent Iran from obtaining the “bomb” continues to rise to a fevered pitch evidenced by the recent flurry of activity and negotiations within the United Nations. However, what hasn’t graced the front pages of American periodicals, is the cozy relationship Hugo Chavez maintains with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Some may write off Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez as a left wing blowhard, but to underestimate his long term vision of hegemony in the region, would be a huge miscalculation by the United States. The Houston Chronicle ran a story in May 2005, describing a visit by former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami to Venezuela, where Chavez reportedly expressed his desire to “introduce nuclear elements to Venenzuela.” The article continues:

Standing side by side with Khatami in Caracas, Chavez said, “Iran has every right to develop atomic energy and to continue research in that area. … Faced with the threat of the U.S. government against our brother people in Iran, count on us for all our support.”

After receiving the report that Chavez might be trying to acquire nuclear technology or weapons from Iran, I met with a high-ranking U.S. official to voice my concerns and ask what he thought about such speculation. He answered me point blank: “It would not surprise me. Chavez is dangerous, underestimated and capable of almost anything. We are hearing a number of curious and disturbing reports. He is actively working to recruit terrorist nations and developing countries into his campaign of hatred against the United States.”

These developments are not to be taken lightly. As recent as February 16, 2006, Iran Press News reported Iran’s willingness to assist Venezuela with nuclear technology development.

Chavez has also appeared on Al-Jazeera calling for Arab nations to “unite against the United States.” He’s also aided and abetted terrorists. According to my sources, under Khatami, Venezuela and Iran entered into an arrangement where Venezuela would provide passports to Iranian and Syrian spies to enter the United States after other channels were shutdown due to increased Post 9-11 security measures.

If you think for one second Hugo Chavez’s anti-American sentinments are overstated, take this example on for size:

Paraguay is one of a shrinking number of American allies in South America. To demonstrate his dissatisfaction with this relationship, Chavez partnered with Castro to smuggle 700 Cuban agents into Paraguay disguised as doctors in an attempt to depose Paragauy’s President Duarte. Thankfully, the plot was uncovered in August 2005 and thwarted, however, that same year thed Paraguayan Ambassador to Caracas was badly beaten in broad daylight in the Venezeulan capital. An official apology never came from Chavez.

And don’t think for one second the Iranian regime’s infilitration and support in our region stops with Venezuela. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accepted an invitation to visit Cuba in September 2005 to show gratitude for Castro’s support of Iran’s nuclear program. A Castro and Ahmadinejad partnership brings fanaticism of the most dangerous kind only 90 miles from U.S. soil. We haven’t seen a threat this close since the Cuban Missle Crisis in the 1960’s.

So as the debate rages on over what the UN should do about Iran, keep in mind Cuba, Syria and Venezuela voted against the IAEA’s (International Atomic Energy Agency) desire to refer the Iranian nuke issue to the Security Council. Despite the U.S. concentrated efforts to fight the War on Terror in the Middle East, we cannot ignore what’s going on in our own hemisphere. Venezuela is keeping dangerous company, so we better wake up and pay attention.

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Written By

Mr. Setmayer is conservative media commentator and political consultant in Washington, D.C. She previously served as a research fellow and communications specialist for the Coalition on Urban Renewal & Education (CURE). She appears regularly on CNN, PBS and NPR's News & Notes with Ed Gordon.

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