Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent tour of Latin America shows that area of the world could become an active breeding ground for terrorism and other nefarious operations.
In the past week, Ahmadinejad has visited Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. During his five-day trip, he defended the Iranian nuclear program, actively criticized capitalism and the United States, and bolstered ties to the Latin American countries.
Even before this excursion, experts expressed concerns about Venezuelan ties to Iran, and the United States had sanctioned Venezuela's state-run oil company, PDVSA, for cooperation with Iran. Venezuela also actively fundraises for, and may harbor members of, the Iranian based terrorist group Hezbollah.
But Venezuela is not the only Latin American country with ties to Iran that threaten U.S. national security. Iran has connections with Raul and Fidel Castro in Cuba and is bolstering relations with Ecuador. During his visit, Ahmadinejad called Nicaragua President Daniel Ortega his "brother president." Iran's leaders want Nicaragua to become their tool.
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinenen, R-Fla., warned, "The growing alliances between Iran and anti-American dictatorships in the Western Hemisphere pose a serious threat to democracy and stability in the region."
If Iran continues to make advances in Latin America, the United States may find that it no longer has friendly southern neighbors.