US Republican Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar criticized the Biden administration for having no plan to counter what she described as ‘Iran’s expanding influence in America’s backyard’.
After Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s tour to Latin American countries of Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua, US seems to be irritated by the move as Republican Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar addressed the issue this Thursday with discontent.
Slamming the Biden administration for lacking a clear vision for Latin America, Salazar said that this inaction by the White House has created an opportunity for rival nations, such as Iran, to establish closer ties in the U.S.’s backyard.
Speaking to Fox News Digital this Thursday night, Salazar asserted that “weak leadership from the Biden Administration has allowed the world’s worst actors to penetrate our hemisphere with impunity,” adding that “[Iranian] President [Ebrahim] Raisi’s visit to Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua in plain defiance of the United States demonstrates the failure of the Administration’s Latin America policy.”
Salazar, who is also chair of the House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, further urged the Biden administration to rebuild ties with the aforementioned countries before it is too late; “We must repair our relationships with our friends in the region so that we can form a united front against the countries that invite the Islamic Republic’s terrorist regime into our hemisphere,” she added.
Raisi’s four-day visit to the Latin American countries began early this week, which according to Iran’s state media, could provide Raisi face-to-face meetings with the leaders of the three countries, each of whom signed documents to expand bilateral cooperation with Iran in different economic, political and scientific issues.
Raisi first visited Venezuela, where he was photographed with President Nicolas Maduro and ranted about the crippling sanctions both countries suffer at the hands of the United States. “They do not want the two countries, Iran and Venezuela, to be independent,” Raisi said during his first visit to Venezuela, referring to the U.S. government. He said the links between the two countries “is not normal but rather a strategic relationship” and that they share “common interests” and “common enemies.”
Losing Latin America, an own goal by the Biden administration and beyond
Countries in Latin America have, on many occasions, expressed frustration with the Biden administration over sanctions that Washington insists to impose against countries in the region such as Venezuela and Cuba.
According to the United Nations (UN), 7.1 million people have migrated from the oil-rich Venezuela since 2015 as the country undergoes a dire economic situation heavily caused by wide-reaching US sanctions.
The same is true of Cuba, where the US first imposed an embargo on the sale of arms to this Latin American country in the midst of Cold War with the Soviet Union on March 14, 1958. And then it was last year in September that Biden renewed the US trade embargo against Cuba, thereby extending into the 65nd year the regimen of punitive sanctions. The policy, as Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson acknowledged in 2015, is “harsher than on many other countries in the world over the years.”
At the same time, Iran has been cleverly working and cooperating with these Latin American countries in various fields. Iran’s main goal, according to Emanuele Ottolenghi, senior fellow in the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, is to “build alliances with like-minded movements and governments to erode U.S. influence in the Western Hemisphere and challenge the U.S. in its own backyard, something that the Islamic Republic has been quite successful in it”.