Iran is attempting to increase its influence in Venezuela, one of the US’ other rivals, which is holding an Iranian culture fair this week and looking to Tehran for help in reviving its failing energy sector, said Voice of America (VOA).
Caracas, the Venezuelan capital, hosted the International Exposition of Venezuelan-Iranian Culture and Friendship from March 4 to March 13. The Center for Intercultural Exchange in Latin America, or CICL, which has its headquarters in Caracas, is the organisation behind hosting it.
The Latin American branch of Iran’s al-Mustafa International University, which the report describes as Tehran’s primary institution for recruiting, indoctrinating, and training foreign converts to Shi’ite Islam, is CICL, according to a report published by the US research group Foundation for Defense of Democracies in December.
The meeting between Iran’s top diplomat, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and Venezuela’s oil minister, Tareck el-Aissami, took place in Caracas on February 3. According to official Iranian media, el-Aissami asked the Iranian government to share its knowledge of energy and related technology with his country, which has the largest reserves of crude oil worldwide but a deteriorating infrastructure that has recently been plagued by domestic fuel shortages.
The National Iranian Oil Refinery and Distribution Corporation will receive a $490 million contract to renovate the Paraguana Refining Complex, Venezuela’s largest refining plant, according to a three days later release from the state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela.
According to the Iranian foreign ministry, at a more recent meeting with Amir-Abdollahian on February 28 in Geneva, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Yvan Gil Pinto praised Iran as a very close ally.
The government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is “committed to deepening relations with Iran in all spheres, including oil, energy, economy, and trade,” according to Pinto, who was quoted in the article.
Both countries are subject to severe sanctions from the US because it accuses them of sponsoring terrorism, violating human rights, and engaging in other wrong deeds.
This week’s episode of the Flashpoint Iran podcast featured a VOA interview with exiled Venezuelan opposition figure Julio Borges about the expanding Iranian-Venezuelan partnership.
Borges is a prominent Justice First party member and a former foreign minister of the last temporary Venezuelan administration, backed by the US, which was made up of various opposition groups and disbanded in January after four years in office.