Correa has long pursued a multi-billion dollar judgment against oil company Chevron for alleged pollution that occurred in Ecuador’s Lago Agrio region. A U.S. federal judge ruled earlier this month that the judgment could not be enforced in America because the plaintiffs’ attorneys bribed a judge in Ecuador, ghostwrote purportedly neutral scientific studies, and conspired to break the law.
Correa in December dissolved a nongovernment organization protesting state oil drilling in the Amazon. He previously called the Free Beacon“corrupt” for reporting on the Chevron case.
Correa has also emulated Chavez by frequently decrying the alleged “imperial” influence of the United States in Latin America. He has expelled an American ambassador, shut down a joint U.S. anti-drug base, and grantedasylum to WikiLeaks founder and privacy advocate Julian Assange despiteallegations that Correa’s government has spied on reporters.
In his report, Mr. Nisman contended that the 1994 bombing was not an isolated event. “It has to be investigated as a segment in a larger sequence,” he said in a report summary, pointing to parallels with the case of two Guyanese men convicted in 2010 of conspiring to attack Kennedy International Airport in New York.
In that case, a former Guyanese government official, Abdul Kadir, opened himself to a claim by prosecutors in New York that he secretly worked for years as a spy for Iran when he said during cross-examination that he had drafted regular reports to Iran’s ambassador in Venezuela on plans to infiltrate Guyana’s military and police. The plot to attack the airport did not advance beyond the conceptual stage.
Mr. Nisman, who has investigated the bombing since 2005, suggested that “criminal plans” by Iran could be under development in Latin America, including Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Guyana, Paraguay, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and Uruguay.
And let’s not forget the direct flights fron Tehran to Caracas.
Connecting the dots, Mr. Nisman found that one of the Iranian agents in the plan to incinerate JFK—Guyanese citizen Abdul Kadir—had a “close relationship and hierarchical subordination” to Rabbini. But Kadir’s activities were supported from other countries as well. He “was very important to the plot, not only because he was a successful leader, but also due to his deeply rooted connections with Iran and its embassy in Venezuela.” And he was active in countries throughout the Caribbean, including Trinidad and Tobago; Dominica; Barbados; Antigua and Barbuda; Surinam; and Grenada. “His activity as an Iranian leader allowed him to establish and strengthen relations with other regional Islamic leaders and by 1998 he was the representative of the Secretariat of the Caribbean Islamic Movement.”
It is unlikely that either Kadir or Rabbani would have gotten as far as they did without the use of a seemingly benign activity to shield them. “The dual use of institutions controlled by the Iranian Regime, the cultural, religious and propagation activities conducted by its agents abroad and the radical indoctrination of its supporters” become operational with “the construction of intelligence stations,” the summary explains. These have “the capability to provide logistic, economic and operative support to terrorist attacks decided by the Islamic regime.”
Welcome to this week’s Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean. As the title indicates, it’s been a year since Mel Zelaya was thrown out of office. He and his teddy bear are also gone from his tin foil-lined room at the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa.
Today’s podcast at 11AM Eastern:
The UN Office for Drugs and Crime’s report
Lula’s adventure in Tehran smacks of the overconfidence of a politician who basks in an approval rating of over 70% and who sees the Iraq war and the financial crisis as having irreparably damaged American power and credibility. But the United States is still Brazil’s second-largest trading partner. Although some American and Brazilian officials are keen to prevent ill-will over Iran from spoiling co-operation in other areas, it nevertheless may do so. The United States Congress may be even less willing to support the elimination of a tariff on Brazil’s sugar-based ethanol, for example.
Lula wants the UN reformed to reflect today’s world, with Brazil gaining a permanent seat on the Security Council. But by choosing to apply his views on how the world should be run to an issue of pressing concern to America and Europe, and in which Brazil has no obvious national interest, Lula may only have lessened the chances that he will get his way.
PUERTO RICO Students approve strike pact. Back in the olden days when I was a student at the UPR they were striking, too, but no one slept in cute little tents on campus. Either way, the strikes are a total waste of time.
The report launched by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) expresses concern about Venezuela due to the existence of cells of armed insurgent groups, such as the Bolivarian Liberation Front and civilian militias supported by the government.
BARBADOS will benefit from a wide-ranging, Caribbean aid package of some US$300 million, United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced in the island yesterday.
The package comprises $US45 million committed to the State Department for the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) in 2010 and the Obama administration’s request for US$79 million in the 2011 financial year.
Clinton also announced the administration’s commitment to provide US$162 million for Caribbean HIV/AIDS programmes and US$8 million to fund regional climate change and energy projects.
Welcome to the Carnival of Latin America and the Caribbean. Today’s Carnival is named after those busts of Fidel Castro Hugo Chavez is planning to install in Caracas while Cuba continues to hold political prisoners and harass their wives.
Via Real Clear World Video: Greg Grandin, Michael Shifter, Kevin Casas-Zamora and John Coatsworth discussing Latin America
Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited Latin America and the Caribbean last week, making stops to shore up allies Colombia, Peru and Barbados, on the heels of the signing of the first major U.S. defense pact with Brazil in 30 years.
He’s doing his job, and not a moment too soon, given the den of dragons the region has become. Colombia’s FARC terrorists have now made common cause with Mexico’s drug traffickers, whose violence is spilling over the U.S. border.
Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez has allied with Iran and Russia, touting nuclear cooperation with both. Chavez also is acquiring as much as $9.5 billion in Russian arms — bad news, given his history of supplying terrorists and threatening neighbors.
His ally, Bolivia, is setting up a de facto Russian air force base to check U.S. allies in Peru and Chile. And his other ally, Ecuador, is making a name for itself as a money laundry for pariahs like Iran.
So it says something that the one issue Gates came out strongly for was passage of the U.S.-Colombia free trade pact. “I would hope that we would be in a position to make a renewed effort to get ratification of the free-trade agreement. It’s a good deal for Colombia. It’s also a very good deal for the U.S.,” said the defense chief.
The reasons are easy to understand. A stable, prosperous Colombia will serve as a beacon for others to imitate and contrast sharply with Chavez’s failed economic model. It also will send a message to the region that the U.S. can be trusted as an ally.
The irony is that Gate’s plea addresses not just Hugo Chavez, but also the failures of President Obama and congressional Democrats.
The president claims he wants free trade with Colombia, but has done nothing to rouse votes on Capitol Hill or to prod House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who personally iced the pact in 2008.
Mire in domestic politics, Congress remains in thrall to union cash, with Pelosi unwilling to move to a vote until Big Labor gives the nod, something the AFL-CIO says it will never do.
Even so, Obama’s Cabinet officials are pushing forward.
Colombia’s presidential palace told IBD that U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk called President Uribe’s office Thursday to say he’s expecting action soon. That’s welcome news.
It’ll be more than a bit strange if Obama’s own Cabinet pleads for free trade with Colombia while Obama and Congress’ Democrats continue to throw up obstacles. But that’s how it looks.
Must be that “smart diplomacy” we’ve been reading about.