Bloomberg: Iran poses one of three major threats to democracy in Latin America, along with drug cartels and the danger of U.S. disengagement from the region, House Speaker John Boehner said.
By Nicole Gaouette
Iran poses one of three major threats to democracy in Latin America, along with drug cartels and the danger of U.S. disengagement from the region, House Speaker John Boehner said.
Boehner said today that when he went to Latin America in January, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was also in the region visiting Venezuela and Cuba. The U.S. State Department has designated Iran and Cuba as state sponsors of terrorism, and has criticized Venezuela under leader Hugo Chavez for human rights abuses and links to the two nations.
“His trip underscored the designs Iran has for expanding its influence in Latin America,” Boehner said at a meeting of the Council of the Americas at the State Department in Washington. “The best defense against an expansion of Iranian influence in Latin America, and against the destructive aspirations of international criminals in the region, is for the United States to double down on a policy of direct engagement.”
Boehner praised the October 2011 passage of free-trade agreements with Panama and Colombia, where the pact will formally take effect in May. He said he was disappointed that “the administration has not moved to build on these achievements by seeking Trade Promotion Authority.”
He urged that all nations honor the rule of law and respect international norms. “That means paying debts to bondholders, honoring legal commitments and the decisions made by international arbiters, and respecting private property,” Boehner said.
Argentina nationalized the Spanish-owned energy company YPF SA (YPFD) last month, a loss that owner Respol YPF SA (REP) estimated at $7.5 billion. President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner signed the nationalization into law May 5.
“Some governments in the region have demonstrated an alarming willingness to drift away from such norms when it suits their objectives,” Boehner said.