Speaking Farsi in Caracas

It’s not just Russian you’ll hear on the streets of Venezuela’s capital these days, as several Iranian businesses have sent hundreds of employees over to begin work on various “friendship” projects at the invitation of President Hugo Chavez, fulfilling what was several years ago speculated to be an emerging “axis of autocracy.”  From the Associated Press:

Keyvanfar says the reason for the relationship between Iran and Venezuela is simple: “I think the two presidents don’t like the United States _ that’s the only thing.” 

Iran is courting Latin America’s leftist bloc with active diplomacy, joint business projects and aid while gathering support for its much-criticized nuclear program. Nicaragua has received Iranian aid pledges for a dam and milk-processing plants, and is playing down U.S. concerns about Iran’s nuclear-weapon ambitions. Iran has also promised Bolivia US$1 billion in aid and investment, including plans to build a cement plant, dairies and two public health clinics. (…)

“Iran will take every opportunity to show that it is not isolated and in the process question Washington’s influence, even in its own backyard,” said Farideh Farhi, a researcher at the University of Hawaii who writes frequently about Iran’s foreign policy.