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...

  • Arts and Culture Blogs 10 New Hollywood Movies That Aim to Show Support for Israel (SATIRE)

    10 New Hollywood Movies That Aim to Show Support for Israel (SATIRE)

    Ten major film studios are currently in production on projects that promote a decidedly pro-Israeli narrative. In famously liberal Hollywood, such a development has left mouths agape and set tongues a wagging. Since the Jewish State began defending itself from the thousands of rockets that Hamas has hurled at it – as well as ongoing terror attacks and murders, the overwhelming number of Tinseltown’s producers, directors, actors, and studio moguls have remained indifferent to the plight of millions of Israeli [...]

    Read more →
  • Featured Israel Sports So Close: Israeli Judoka Loses Crown in World Cup Final, Finishes With Silver (VIDEO)

    So Close: Israeli Judoka Loses Crown in World Cup Final, Finishes With Silver (VIDEO)

    Israeli Judoka Yarden Gerbi (63kg), 25, of Netanya, on Thursday lost the final round at the Judo World Cup, and her world title to Clarisse Agbegnenou of France, at a match held in Russia. “I have mixed feelings,” Gerbi told Israeli Army radio. But, “I shouldn’t assume that I’d win the world Judo championship twice in a row,” she admitted. Gerbi won gold in Rio De Janeiro last year. “When I made my decision, I knew it was going to [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity Surviving the Holocaust by Hiding Their Faith (REVIEW)

    Surviving the Holocaust by Hiding Their Faith (REVIEW)

    “Jews Out!” was just the name of a child’s game that three little girls played in World War II Europe. But all is not as it seems because the three girls were Jewish, but hiding their true identities. In award-winning author R. D. Rosen’s riveting non-fiction work, Such Good Girls, “Jews Out!” wasn’t a game; it was a struggle for survival. The girls, Sophie, Flora, and Carla, grew up at a time and a place that did not allow them [...]

    Read more →
  • Music Personalities Twenty Years On, the Real and Radical Legacy of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach

    Twenty Years On, the Real and Radical Legacy of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach

    JNS.org – “He was part hippie, part yippie, part beatnik, and part New Age,” wrote Elli Wohlgelernter in a Jerusalem Post eulogy in 1994, following the Oct. 20 passing of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. Twenty years later, more robust accounts of Carlebach’s life have come to the surface. Earlier this year, Natan Ophir published the book Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach: Life, Mission & Legacy. This past summer, Rabbi Shlomo Katz’s The Soul of Jerusalem hit the shelves. But even the authors will admit [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Music Beatlemania Invades the Gaza Strip (SATIRE)

    Beatlemania Invades the Gaza Strip (SATIRE)

    As Hamas loses its grip on power in the Gaza Strip as a result of war, poverty and disillusionment, the Islamist terrorist group has developed an ingenious way to raise the morale of the 1.7 million Palestinian Arabs it was elected to serve. While currently focused on delivering a rocket into every Israeli home, Hamas has not left its own people behind. To gently wipe away the tears of children strategically placed inside kindergartens as human shields, the Hamas Interior Ministry [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Spirituality/Tradition Removing Jesus’ Jewish Identity From Artwork

    Removing Jesus’ Jewish Identity From Artwork

    In a strong statement that challenges the historic divide between Christianity and Judaism, Pope Francis recently proclaimed, “Inside every Christian is a Jew.” But if you look at Renaissance artworks that depict Jesus, you will not find any evidence of a Jew inside the Christianized Jesus — even though the Gospels in the New Testament tell us that Jesus was Jewish to the core. Getting that point across to the public is a daunting task, as I learned in interviews I [...]

    Read more →
  • Music Personalities Recycling His Roots

    Recycling His Roots

    JNS.org – Having started his career playing on his family’s pots and pans, Jewish musician Billy Jonas has maintained this homemade performance ethic while spreading his messages of simple living and environmentalism to a shared home throughout the world. After beginning in the kitchen, Jonas soon moved to the music room, where he picked up the piano, guitar, and trombone. These days, the multi-talented multi-instrumentalist plays on with pretty much anything he can find, including cans, bottles buckets, and other recycled-object [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Personalities Jewish Renewal Movement Founder’s Insights Form a New Guide for Senior Living

    Jewish Renewal Movement Founder’s Insights Form a New Guide for Senior Living

    JNS.org – Sara Davidson’s The December Project is a new book that should be read by all senior citizens, and by those who hope to live a long life, for it raises a question that most of us have not been taught how to answer: What should we do in that final stage of our lives? Many of us continue working past the traditional retirement age of 65, not because we need the money and not because we find the [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.