Cuba’s China Card and Pan-Islamism in Latin America

July 13, 2012 12:34 pm 1 comment

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (left). Photo: wiki commons.

A real sweet deal last week featuring interest-free loans between China and Cuba is redoubling the influence of president Hu Jintao in Latin America and the Caribbean.

While little talked about here, Chinese news agencies were reporting widely on their government’s fawning over Cuban president Raul Castro, in his first official visit to China to meet Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao.

In Beijing, China agreed to support Cuba’s development of technology and health services and Hu also called for more cooperation in trade, energy and biotechnology and promised to open a zero percent interest line of credit to support Cuban agriculture.
Trade between China and Cuba has grown from $590 million in 2004 to $1.8 billion in 2010, making China now Cuba’s biggest trading partner after Venezuela.

With Beijing showing Iran-friendly Cuba as its regional face card, the China-Cuba alliance could disrupt the space where Israel and China operate their sensitive military and high tech channels, which are always a bone of contention with Washington.

From Mexico southward, the adoption of Cuba by China also complicates relations between Tel Aviv and South American nations who host large Jewish populations and officially support nuclear cooperation with Tehran and Havana under the aegis of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

The realpolitik that hovers above the non-proliferation conversations indicates that in spite of the Dirty War in South America, Iran-Contra and its Saudi backing from the likes of billionaire Adnan Khashoggi, and the job creation generated by Washington’s multi-billion dollar War on Drugs, half a century of Made in Cuba revolutionary politics continues to have political currency in Latin America.

Not because the revolution was successful – Fidel has acknowledged the failings of his economic programs – but because its ritual behaviors challenge the rules of the Inter-American System dominated by Washington and its regional apologists.

What’s different with the China card is that the face of “Che” Guevara is no longer on the T-shirt. It’s not Chairman Mao or Osama Bin Laden either. The new icon for Latin America’s Next-Gen troublemakers is the Mullah’s virtual Man in Havana, Iranian political leader Ahmadinejad.

Ahmadinejad wins the respect of struggling Latin Americans because he stands up to Washington better than his friends in Ecuador, Venezuela and Nicaragua do. And his Iranian media team is savvy enough to know that softening his image with a pair of sunglasses will get him 100,000 more views on the Internet where the nation branding game is played.

The Obama White House provides disingenuous public diplomacy that invites Ahmadinejad to act out while the Pentagon quietly implements a military-track Latin security structure with regional shared base agreements similar to its growing Africa Command.

Tough talk from Washington about slapping China with fines for its sanction-busting purchases of Iranian oil subsided after Hillary Clinton’s state department white-listed Beijing, along with Japan, Turkey and Italy, citing their efforts to reduce their use.

Efforts to position these developments as a “back to the future” Cold War political dynamic are a misstep. Using the old paradigm masks the broader long term agenda of pan-Islamist clerics who see Latin America, with its large Middle Eastern and Afro-descendant population as a long term “win back” in the theocratic struggle for hearts and minds.

Some scholars examining slave rebellions in the 19th century Brazilian Empire credit followers of Islam with leading oppressed slaves to emancipation. Others point to the Catholic Church’s successful domination of the South American continent centuries before. But the hard-line, revolutionary, anti-U.S. mix could be explosive for Jewish interests, internationally.

In Paraguay, where populist president Fernando Lugo was recently impeached for failing to respect the interests of international landowners, right wing politicians are calling for a return to the strong-arm policies of the late dictator general Alfredo Stroessner, which included unofficial anti-Semitism.

Stroessner, who took power in a 1954 coup with the tacit support of the government of the United States, provided sanctuary to Holocaust war criminal “angel of death” Dr. Josef Mengele. Today, themes like Jewishness, the Holocaust and anti-Semitism are almost totally forgotten concepts in the region.

Ciudad del Este (formerly known as Puerto Stroessner), the Paraguay smugglers’ paradise across the Parana River from Brazil, has long been a mecca for financial dealings that support proxy terror group Hizbollah.

The long U.S.-Mexico border may offer proxy terror groups a similar haven. Throwing sunshine on the situation along the Texas-Mexico frontier, Tom Reed, former head of the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and secretary of the Air Force has written a Tom Clancy-style novel called The Tehran Triangle that discusses proxy terror groups in the Juarez-El Paso metropolitan area. Washington says that these connections simply don’t exist. But senior U.S. officials have made similar statements before.

Chinese and Taiwanese interests, which operate prosperous businesses on both sides of the Parana and the Rio Grande, some of which are believed to front for ground level intelligence gathering activities, watch with interest.

On the El Paso side of the Rio Grande there is a Holocaust Museum. On the Brazil side of the Parana, there is a large Mosque.

1 Comment

  • While he is a former president, a caption writing error causes the reader to identify Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as the current president of Brazil. Lula was president for two terms and his authority ended in January 2010 when current president Dilma Vana Rousseff took office. Both Dilma and Lula are members of the Workers Party. As the author of the article, I offer my apoplogy connected with this oversight. Eric Ehrmann

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Jewish Identity Sports LeBron James’ New Coach Shaped by Summer on Kibbutz and Jewish ‘Life Lessons’

    LeBron James’ New Coach Shaped by Summer on Kibbutz and Jewish ‘Life Lessons’

    JNS.org – Influenced by his Jewish upbringing and a summer on a kibbutz, basketball coach David Blatt is embarking on his highest-profile challenge yet: coaching LeBron James, the four-time National Basketball Association (NBA) Most Valuable Player who has made waves for returning to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. After guiding Israel’s storied Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball franchise to its 51st Israeli league championship and 6th Euroleague title this past season, Blatt landed the Cavaliers head-coaching job in June. Just weeks later, [...]

    Read more →
  • Food Jewish Identity Young Syrian Jewish Restauranteur Continues a Family Legacy

    Young Syrian Jewish Restauranteur Continues a Family Legacy

    JNS.org – At the turn of the century, a young Jewish immigrant arrived in New York. So begins the history of many American Jewish families. It is 27-year-old Albert Allaham’s story, too, with a few unusual twists. Albert’s “century” is the 21st—he arrived almost 100 years after the massive waves of European Jewish immigration. Rather than coming from a small town along the Danube river, his shtetl was Damascus. His first American business was not a pushcart on the Lower East [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity A Holistic Look at the Rebbe’s Life and Career (REVIEW)

    A Holistic Look at the Rebbe’s Life and Career (REVIEW)

    Did you know that in the entire Bible, only one birthday is mentioned and it is that of Pharaoh? And did you know that according to some scientists, by accepting Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, it is impossible to prove or disprove that the sun is the gravitational center of our solar system? In his new book, REBBE, best-selling author Joseph Telushkin reveals many surprising and sometimes shocking details as he chronicles the life and teachings of the charismatic Rabbi [...]

    Read more →
  • Food Mitzvos New Jerusalem Eatery’s Uniform Pricing Seeks to ‘Help People Make It’

    New Jerusalem Eatery’s Uniform Pricing Seeks to ‘Help People Make It’

    JNS.org – Omelet sandwich: 5 shekels. Iced coffee: 5 shekels. Tuna sandwich: 5 shekels. Fresh-squeezed orange juice: 5 shekels. Cheese bureka: 5 shekels. There’s plenty more on the Cofizz menu, but you get the idea. Dani Mizrahi and Amir Amshalm, two Israeli men in their early 30s, asked themselves: Why not launch a take-out food joint in busy neighborhoods around Jerusalem where everything—and that means everything—goes for five shekels, or about $1.50. They’d seen the concept take off in Tel Aviv, where [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel New Primetime Drama ‘Tyrant’ Filmed Entirely in Israel (VIDEO)

    New Primetime Drama ‘Tyrant’ Filmed Entirely in Israel (VIDEO)

    The new FX Network drama Tyrant was shot entirely in Israel, just 10 miles north of Tel Aviv, Bloomberg News reported last Tuesday. Tyrant follows the life of an Arab dictator’s second son Barry, played by Adam Rayner, who reluctantly returns home to the Middle Eastern nation of his birth to join the family business away from his suburban life in America. The elaborate set production for the primetime drama included a crew of 300 and a reported cost of over $3 million [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Supermodel: Jewish Mothers Are Constantly Trying to Set Me Up With Their Sons

    Supermodel: Jewish Mothers Are Constantly Trying to Set Me Up With Their Sons

    Skokie, Il-born 25-year-old Erin Heatherton (Erin Heather Bubley) is rocking the modeling world. And in a new interview accompanying a cover spread for Miami’s Ocean Drive magazine, she says Jewish moms are “constantly trying to set her up with their sons.” Imagine that – who would have thought? “The moms, they’re doing what they do. It doesn’t matter what country they live in, what city – grandmothers, too,” she admitted. “But I’m probably going to do that too one day.” Heatherton was [...]

    Read more →
  • Education Israel First Ever: Turkish Academics to Visit Israel Holocaust Museum for Seminar

    First Ever: Turkish Academics to Visit Israel Holocaust Museum for Seminar

    Some 15 Turkish university professors and lecturers will take part in a first of its kind seminar at Holocaust museum Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies starting next week. The trip is especially significant as Holocaust denial is rampant in the Arab world. A Palestinian professor was recently forced to resign after he led a trip to the Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz. Participants in the week-long program at Yad Vashem will experience in-depth tours of the museum’s archives and [...]

    Read more →
  • Israel Music Guns N’ Roses Guitarist Rocks Solo Acoustic Version of Israeli National Anthem – Hatikva (VIDEO)

    Guns N’ Roses Guitarist Rocks Solo Acoustic Version of Israeli National Anthem – Hatikva (VIDEO)

    Ok, fans, question time. What do: Guns ‘n’ Roses shred-meister guitarist, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (aka Ronald Jay Blumenthal), “Hard Rock Hotel”, “Las Vegas” and Israel’s ”Hatikva” (The Hope) national anthem… all have in common? I know, you’re probably thinking, “Hmm, ‘One of these things is not like the other,’ would fit in here,” right? Um, no, turns out. Caught backstage by blogger Darren Garnick at the swanky Vegas gig in early June, Thal, acoustic guitar in hand, fretted out a sweetly melodic [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.