Latin American Countries Reject Clinton’s Threats over Iran Ties

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez considered recent declarations by U.S. secretary of state Hilary Clinton, as “signs of an imperialist offensive” which aims to stop the growth of progressive forces in the region and recover control over its “backyard”.

By Kiraz Janicke – Venezuelanalysis.com
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Caracas, December 14, 2009 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez considered recent declarations by U.S. secretary of state Hilary Clinton, as “signs of an imperialist offensive” which aims to stop the growth of progressive forces in the region and recover control over its “backyard”. 

Last Friday Clinton told a state department briefing on Latin American relations that countries in the region should “think twice” before increasing ties with Iran, citing Venezuela and Bolivia in particular.

“If people want to flirt with Iran they should take a look at what the consequences might well be for them. And we hope that they will think twice,” she said.

 “We can only say that is a really bad idea for the countries involved,” Clinton warned.

Speaking at the summit of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) as it met in Havana, Cuba on Sunday, Chavez insisted that the statements are an open threat, an indication of the imperialist offensive reflected in the installation of seven U.S. military bases in Colombia and the coup in Honduras.

“These statements are threats, especially against Venezuela and Bolivia, and against the whole of ALBA” he said.

Iran has strong diplomatic and trade ties with Venezuela and has also recently strengthened its relations with Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua. The Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Brazil, Bolivia and Venezuela in late November.

At the time Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said Brazil recognised Iran's right to develop a peaceful nuclear programme.

Both the Brazilian and Bolivian governments made statements rejecting Clinton’s comments on Saturday.

For the Venezuelan president, Clinton’s threats oblige ALBA countries to consolidate their process of regional integration.

“We must strengthen ALBA and consolidate it from all points of view,” he said.

Bolivian President Evo Morales rejected Clinton’s comments and reiterated he would not accept any kind of threat or warning from the U.S. government.

The Latin American leaders also criticised the U.S. role in Honduras, where the democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya was ousted in a military coup in June.

Amidst reports of massive fraud, ballot stuffing, an abstention rate of 70% and at least one death, the coup regime carried out elections in a U.S. backed process on November 29.

However, the majority of Latin American governments, including Brazil and Argentina have refused to recognise the outcome, categorising the elections as simply an attempt to legitimise the coup.

Clinton defended Washington’s role as a “pragmatic, principled, multilateral approach”.

However, Cuban president Raul Castro slammed the U.S. for presiding over an “electoral farce.”

Latin American countries have also criticised the Obama administration for its failure to condemn the human rights violations carried out by the coup regime.

At least two protestors active in the resistance to the coup have been killed since the “elections” in Honduras: Santos Corrales García, who was last known to be in police custody after being arrested on December 5 and whose decapitated body was found on Friday and human rights defender Walter Trochez, who was shot in the chest by a drive-by gunman on Sunday, after earlier recounting that he had escaped a kidnapping attempt December 4 after suffering several hours of beatings and threats by masked men.