Engel Chairs Hearing on Iran in the Western Hemisphere

Washington, D.C.

– Congressman Eliot Engel, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee

on the Western Hemisphere, held a hearing on Iran’s

presence in the Western Hemisphere. The

hearing is being co-convened by the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, the

Subcommittee on Middle East and South Asia and

the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade.

Chairman Engel states that

he has “serious concerns about expanded Iranian influence in the region.”

Rep. Engel also points out

that “we must never forget the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires that killed 30 people and the 1994 bombing of

the AMIA building in Buenos Aires

that killed 85 people.” The State Prosecutor of Argentina concluded that the

bombings were executed by Hezbollah, which is supported by Syria and sponsored by Iran.

Witnesses at the hearing

include Eric Farnsworth (Vice President of the Council of the Americas), Dina

Siegel Vann (Director of the Latino and Latin America Institute at the American

Jewish Committee), Douglas Farah (Senior Fellow for Financial Investigations

and Transparency at the International Assessment and Strategy Center), Mohsen

Milani (Professor and Chair of the Department of Government and International

Affairs at the University of South Florida), and Norman Bailey (Consulting

Economist at the Potomac Foundation).

Testimony can be read and

the proceedings can be viewed at http://foreignaffairs.house.gov/subcommittees.asp?committee=8&sec=hearings

 Venezuela Statement:

Today’s hearing in the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere of the House of

Representatives, titled “Iran in the Western Hemisphere,” featured a number of

unfounded allegations against Venezuela by several congressmen, including the

chairman of the committee, Rep. Elliott Engel (D—NY). In particular, Mr.

Engel’s opening statement today harkened back to the time of the Monroe

Doctrine, when the U.S.

considered Latin America to be its “backyard”

and countries of the region were not allowed to set their own foreign policies.

During the hearing, some legislators expressed U.S.

disaffection with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s itinerary during his

recent trip to the Middle East, while others echoed already discredited

allegations against Caracas made by the outgoing

Manhattan District Attorney, criticized Venezuela’s

joint energy ventures with Iran

and threatened Venezuela’s

oil assets in the United

States. 

The Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

stresses that the relationship between Venezuela

and Iran is longstanding,

peaceful and of no threat to the national security of the U.S. or of any other country.

Iran and Venezuela have shared open and

strategic relations since both countries co-founded OPEC in 1960. That

relationship grew closer between President Chavez and former President Mohammad

Khatami, and continues to this day with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  It includes

increased cooperation in energy and oil, agriculture, basic industries, and

science. More recently, this relationship has allowed Venezuela to build factories for

the production of food, bicycles, construction materials and other consumables.

It is not that the relationship between Venezuela

and Iran poses a real threat

to the United States; it is

instead that some in Washington cannot move

beyond viewing Latin America as part of its

“backyard.”  Contrary to the opinions of these policymakers, Venezuela’s foreign policy is made in Caracas – not in Washington.

At the end of his opening statement today Rep.Engel called for a reengagement

of U. S. foreign policy with

Latin America.  We applaud his efforts,

but they should be based on mutual respect. We reject the notion that Washington should have

veto power over the decision of Latin American countries to engage with the

rest of the world. 

Venezuela

strongly reserves the right to establish and maintain relations with any

country in the world, whether or not that country agrees with the U.S.

Venezuela’s foreign policy is made with our national interests in mind and with

a view towards establishing a multi-polar world. 

Source:

Embassy of Venezuela in Washington

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