May 6, 2015
- Iran Steps Up Covert Action in Latin America – Adam Kredo
The Iranian government is significantly boosting its presence and resources in Latin America, posing a security threat to the region, according to U.S. and Latin American officials who met last week in Florida to discuss Iran’s covert actions. “It is troubling in some of the briefings we get, particularly on the classified side, to see Iranian influence in Latin America,” said Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), a member of the House Committee of Foreign Affairs.
Iran is providing its officials with passports from Venezuela and other countries, giving them free rein to travel throughout South America. Iran has forged close ties with Argentina, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Bolivia, among others. Luis Heber, a member of the Uruguayan senate, said at least 10 Iranian agents suspected to be members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have been spotted in his country carrying Venezuelan passports. There is “a clear penetration of Iran in our country,” he said.
Iran currently hosts at least 80 so-called cultural centers in the region and has doubled the number of embassies in the region since 2005. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), vice-chair of the House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, asked: “How is it they have Iranian consulates in Latin America?…Iran is penetrating the Western Hemisphere and it’s not for cultural exchanges or approval of travel documents….This makes no sense…other than espionage, subterfuge, and illicit activities.” (Washington Free Beacon)