Iran joins forces with Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua to blow back U.S. sanctions

By Alejandra Garcia and Bill Hackwell
July 3, 2023

This lightly edited article is reprinted from Resumen Latinoamericano English edition which was posted on June 19, 2023. 

Iran President Ebrahim Raisi

The President of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, concluded, this Friday (June 16) in Havana, a trip to Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba that aimed to denounce the U.S. sanctions suffered by the four countries and the imperialist policy – and to create new economic and commercial agreements to promote the development of their peoples. The tour succeeded in uniting forces among these countries, which are under heavy unilateral sanctions at a time of economic hardship.

Raisi was received with honors in Caracas by Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. This was the starting point of the Iranian leader’s first visit to Latin America since he was sworn in as president in August 2021. During his visit to Venezuela, Raisi dismissed the use of the dollar and urged the country to try and find formulas that would allow dispensing with the U.S. currency to carry out transactions and commercial exchange in the country’s own currency. “This is one of the premises to achieve a new international order,” he claimed.

During his visit Raisi signed dozens of agreements with the three sanctioned allies. For example, he said Iran, which produces almost all the medicine it needs, will export drugs and medical equipment to Venezuela and Nicaragua, while also aiming to boost university collaboration with all three countries.

While the trip of the Iranian president focused on expanding economic and scientific cooperation, it was also carried out in the spirit of solidarity. For example, Raisi spoke to a meeting of Venezuelan youth in the Teresa Carreño Theater in Caracas, June 13. He called for building a new world that empowers independent and sovereign nations with their own economic models that can work in cooperation and mutual respect. The old model of “imperialism is in decline,” he said.

During his time in Nicaragua, Raisi criticized the U.S. and “other Western nations that set themselves up as defenders of human rights, democracy and freedom but don’t respect the will of the peoples, as is happening in Palestine, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and in some Latin American nations.”

In Cuba, Raisi and Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel signed cooperation agreements to establish regular consultations between the two foreign ministries. Bilateral contracts were also signed to further cooperate in telecommunications and justice systems.

“It is an honor and an enormous satisfaction to receive you today in Cuba,” assured Díaz-Canel during the official talks he held June 16 with the Iranian leader. “You have visited three Latin American countries that have a significant relationship with the Iranian Revolution: Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba,” he stressed.

Those nations, together with Iran, “have had to heroically confront with tenacious resistance, the sanctions, pressures, threats, blockades and interference of Yankee imperialism and its allies,” Díaz-Canel, First Secretary of the Cuban Communist Party, went on to say.

The Cuban president also pledged to travel to Tehran soon and urged both nations to “take advantage of our potentialities” to deepen economic relations. Meanwhile,  Raisi said in a closed-door business forum that Iran would seek agreements in electricity generation, biotechnology and mining.

This visit expresses a “unity among those of us who have been punished for building societies different from those the imperialist paradigm wants to impose. For that reason, we have been subjected to blockades, to inhumane and unjustified sanctions,” Díaz-Canel commented.

Iran, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba are united and convinced they will not give up their convictions. “Among all of us, we are going to take advantage of the potential we have to complement each other and become stronger to face the empire,” the Cuban president warned.

Given Cuba’s current situation, “it is very stimulating to receive a visit from a friend, from a sister nation. It also strengthens faith, decision, desire and commitment to continue moving forward. We are not alone,” Díaz-Canel concluded.

Washington did not directly comment on Raisi’s trip, but National Security Council spokesman John Kirby instead reiterated that the U.S. is concerned about Iran’s “destabilizing behavior” and will continue to take steps to mitigate it.

Right-wing Cuba-hater María Elvira Salazar, chairwoman of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere in the U.S. House of Representatives, couldn’t contain herself, telling Fox News that Raisi’s trip demonstrates the failure of President Joe Biden’s Latin America policy. In the spirit and language of the Monroe Doctrine, she claimed: “Biden has allowed the world’s worst actors to penetrate our hemisphere with impunity.”

While Raisi’s trip did not sit well with Washington, it proves that Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua have Iran as one of their most solid allies. It was a big boost to the relationship with the three sanctioned Latin American countries, but the union is not new. It has been consolidating over the years when any of these Latin American countries have gone through political tensions or crisis. In those moments, they received Tehran’s unconditional backing.

This significant trip shows every indication that this support and solidarity will not just continue but grow.