Merchant of Death
Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible

Blood from Stones

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Press Releases

Joint Hearing Focuses on Iran in Latin America
On Tuesday I testified before three Subcommittees of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on the issue of Iran's involvement in Latin America. My oral testimony is a bit more detailed on Iranian banks in Ecuador, which I am including here.

The general consensus of those testifying (links to the the testimonies of all the witnesses can be found here under the hearing notice) was that Iran's penetration presents a strategic and under appreciated threat to both the democratic institutions of the region and the United States.

Iran's sponsorship of Hezbollah and Chávez's sponsorship of the FARC, and the history of both terrorist groups in reaching out to other non-state organizations for learning and cross-training is of particularly troublesome.

One of the factors that I think is important to point out in all this discussion is that the leaders of Bolivarian Revolution, and Chávez in particular, are not efficient in what they do or particularly coherent and consistent in how they behave. That is to say, Chávez does not necessarily have the broad control over all aspects of Venezuelan political life, nor does his government execute very well.

Venezuela has one of the highest murder rates in the world, and an oil-rich nation is suffering from both crippling electrical blackouts and water shortages in its main cities.

One of the factors that the Iranians and Cubans bring to the Boliviarian nations is a different sense of discipline and structure, making certain elements of the government far more accomplished at what they do. This is particularly true in the area of internal security and the suppression of dissent and control of the media.

The Cuban restructuring of the Bolivian internal security apparatus has created a whole new level of efficiency, last seen only when escaped Nazi Klaus Barbie ran the security apparatus for the "Cocaine Colonels" under Gen. Garcia Meza in 1980.

The Iranians have also been training small cadres of Nicaraguans, Mexicans, Bolivians and Salvadorans in crowd control, intelligence, counter-intelligence and surveillance. The Iranian regime has shown in the past elections just how efficient they can be at crowd control and dispersal, electronic surveillance and suppression of basic freedoms.

None of this will improve the level of street violence, provide more electricity or cause water to flow. But it does mean that, as the Boliviarian regimes attempt to consolidate their grip on power (and they have all moved in lock step on changing the constitution to allow themselves to stay indefinitely), they are receiving the best possible advise and training from repressive governments who have long histories keeping themselves in power for decades, despite unsustainable economic models.

This part of the alliance means that it will be harder than ever, through democratic means, to dislodge the Bolivarians now that they have arrived.
The Criminal State vs. Failed States
Iran's Expanding Latin American Reach
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