“Our relations are completely strategic,” said Ebrahim Raisi
Ortega attacks Europe and the United States in a meeting with Iranian President, Ebrahim Raisi, and insists on reviving his failed canal project.
HAVANA TIMES – On the first day of his visit to Nicaragua, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi noted that relations between the two countries are not “customary or traditional,” but “completely strategic.” He emphasized that both countries have “fought and defeated” the “imperialists” who “claim to respect democracy.”
The Iranian leader said, “Those in the West and in the United States who pretend to be democratic and claim to respect democracy act in the opposite manner; they neither respect countries or governments that are elected by the popular vote of their peoples.” He emphasized that “world imperialism” lies about its pretensions of democracy and human rights.
“The United States wanted to paralyze our people (Iranian) through threats and sanctions, but our people were not paralyzed and turned threats and sanctions into opportunities,” said Raisi. “Today, the Iranian nation is an advanced nation, despite the enemy’s sanctions, and that proves that if a people have a strong will, there is no way the devilish powers can stop them,” he added.
Raisi arrived in Nicaragua on Tuesday afternoon, June 13, in the middle of a Latin American tour which also includes Venezuela and Cuba. The high-level visit also has as an objective to strengthen relations with these “friendly countries” in economic, political, and scientific matters.
The Iranian president arrived accompanied by his wife, doctor Jamileh Alamolhoda, and a large delegation of officials. They were received at the Augusto C. Sandino International Airport by the Foreign Minister Denis Moncada; the treasurer of the Sandinista Front, Francisco Lopez; and the president of the Electric Transmission Company of Nicaragua (ENATREL), Salvador Mansell.
Ortega revives the failed interoceanic canal
Raisi was honored by the Nicaraguan dictator, Daniel Ortega, at the Omar Torrijos Non-Aligned Plaza, where he ranted against Europe, the United States and revived the failed Interoceanic Canal project through Nicaragua.
According to Ortega, “European empires” have been the “great exploiters of peoples” and that this practice “has not disappeared because it is in the very essence of empires.” However, “they want to give lessons on human rights, lessons on democracy, they want to give lessons to our people.” He questioned that just hours after the European Parliament debated for the eight time, since 2018, the sociopolitical crisis in Nicaragua.
The Nicaraguan dictator also told his Iranian counterpart that the United States “has launched with viciousness against Nicaragua” because they want to control the interoceanic canal route and blamed that nation for the failure of the megaproject.
What is it that they want? Control. So that no other country or Nicaragua can develop that canal. They made the Panama Canal, but Panama, despite the canal’s extension, needs another path. Because of that, when we have been working to develop the interoceanic canal, the campaign of the enemy forces of the revolution comes, the US government begins its offensive to try to prevent this project from moving forward,” said Ortega.
He added that the United States knows “that a new canal is necessary” and that is the element that has turned the United States into a “fierce enemy” of Nicaragua.
The Iranian president’s visit to Nicaragua continues this Wednesday, June 14, with a visit to the National Assembly and a series of private meetings, to then continue his tour by moving on to Cuba.
Raisi, former chief of the Iran’s judiciary, began his Latin American tour last Sunday, when he left Tehran. This is his first trip to the region since taking office in August 2021. Until now he has focused on visits around the region to strengthen relations with Iran’s neighbors.
Iran’s unfulfilled promises to Nicaragua
Economist Enrique Saenz recalls that since Ortega returned to power in 2007, Iran has created the “tradition” of signing agreements and making promises to Nicaragua that never materialize. “Sixteen years have gone by and in Nicaragua’s commercial accounts Iran does not even appear. These are non-existent commercial ties,” he said in his analysis platform “Vamos al Punto.”
Saenz remembered that former Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, visited Nicaragua when Ortega had just assumed power in January 2007, and returned in 2012. “Several missions took place in the interim and afterwards and left a trail of agreements, memorandums of understanding and promises,” he emphasized.
The economist highlights that among the agreements signed with Iran were the construction of four hydroelectric dams, 10,000 low-cost housing units, five milk-processing plants, two additional docks in Corinto for a value of 36 million dollars, cement factories, irrigation and drinking water systems and the delivery of four thousand tractors. None of this has been fulfilled.
Iran also promised joint financing with Venezuela for the construction of a deep-water port in the Caribbean, which has also not been fulfilled either.
Likewise, Argentinian academic, Hector Schamis, points out in his article Iran in Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, that “the pecularity” of this tour by President Raisi to Latin America is that it is a state visit to countries with which Iran hardly trades. “In fact, according to international financing organizations, none of the countries mentioned appears among its twenty most important trade partners. Latin America represents about 2% of its total trade,” he stresses.
Iran’s ties with the dictatorships of Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba are based on their mutual opposition to the United States.
Ortega is one of Iran’s main allies in Latin America and has supported Iran’s nuclear program and called on Israel to “disarm” in order to avoid a military conflict.
In February 2023, the governments of the two countries signed a memorandum on cooperation and public consultations in Managua, during the visit of Iranian Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, to Nicaragua.
“This trip deepens Iran’s presence in the Western Hemisphere, and with it increases the risk and the vulnerability of Latin America,” Schamis points out.
Repressors of political prisoners
Raisi became president of Iran on June 19, 2021. On that day, Amnesty International (AI) singled him out for leading an increasing repression, targeting peaceful dissidents, human rights defenders, and minority groups. Amnesty called for him to be investigated for “crimes against humanity,” referring to murders, enforced disappearance and torture, but also questioned his role as head of the Judiciary.
AI also noted that Raisi’s rise to power in Iran was a reminder of the reign of impunity that prevails there. For example, the organization documented in 2018 that Raisi was a member of the “death commission” that subjected thousands of political dissidents to enforced disappearances and executions in 1988 in Evin and Gohardasht prisons, located near Tehran.
Under Raisi’s Administration, an ultraconservative cleric sanctioned by the United States, “executed” at least 580 political prisoners, according to the United Nations (UN).
Like his guest, Ortega has been singled out by the UN for committing crimes against humanity. In 2018 he ordered a brutal crackdown against mass protests causing 355 murders confirmed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).
Violations of Nicaraguans’ human rights have continued systematically over the past five years. The regime imposed a de facto police state in September 2018, more than a thousand people were considered political prisoners, tens of thousands have been forced into exile and more than 300 people have been stripped of their Nicaraguan nationality.