Hezbollah’s ‘Golden Days’ in Latin America Coming to an End, Expert Says
The rapidly changing diplomatic and political circumstances in Latin America mean that “Hezbollah’s golden days” in the region are coming to an end, an expert on the Lebanese Islamist terrorist organization has asserted.
Writing on the NOW-Lebanon website, journalist Ana Maria Luca observed that “things are changing drastically in the region. The late President Hugo Chavez, America’s most ostentatious enemy in the region, is gone. The times when Hezbollah members got Venezuelan papers to travel to the United States and Canada are probably over. Cuba — another country warmly disposed towards Iran, has recently seen an unprecedented thawing of relations with the US.”
Luca noted that Hezbollah was perturbed by the thawing of US-Cuba relations announced last month by President Obama. “This is how Hezbollah’s international relations official, Ammar Mousawi, congratulated Cuba,” she wrote. “‘The achievements of Cuba, which was firm in its principles, are a lesson for all peoples of the world who suffer from American hegemony,’ calling on the regime in Havana to ‘thwart the political, economic and military siege of Washington against Cuba for over half a century.'”
Luca’s observations were provoked by a report in the leading Brazilian daily, O Globo, which linked Hezbollah with Primer Commando de la Capital (PCC,) a criminal gang that operates across Brazil. “Intelligence services in Brazil believed that there were Hezbollah members in the country who were connected to Brazilian criminal gangs, providing weapons and explosives for the Brazilian criminals. In exchange, the Lebanese got protection for Lebanese inmates in PCC-controlled Brazilian prisons,” she said.
The revelation of Hezbollah’s Brazilian connection came on top of earlier investigations, reports and allegations of cooperation with the Mexican Los Zetas cartel, Luca said. “The documents, leaked by the Brazilian police to the press, show an interesting political shift in national and regional politics,” she asserted.
Hezbollah’s murky network in Latin America, which depends on friendly governments such as the leftist regimes in Venezuela and Bolivia, has been under scrutiny since 2006, when the US Treasury Department raised the matter with several Latin American governments. Almost ten years later, according to Luca, Hezbollah can no longer rely on intelligence agencies and police forces “turning a blind eye.”