Arlene Bridges Samuels
The Eclectic Evangelical @InEssentialsUnity

Dictators in Cuba and Iran Propping up a Dictator in Venezuela Means Disaster

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Iran has built 80 outposts all over Central and South America to promote its dangerous brand of Islam, including Iranian Embassies in Cuba and Venezuela. Venezuela, once the jewel of South America, is in a tragic collapse bringing Iran’s threat to the western hemisphere much closer. Americans may have found it easy to ignore the Syrian civil war, Israel’s constant vigilance to defend itself or Iran’s decades-long march for nuclear weapons. We tell ourselves the Middle East is thousands of miles away even though we do realize that Iran’s leaders are bad guys fomenting terror through many surrogates including Hezbollah, Syria, and Gaza. We help Israel in every way possible yet all the while the distance between Iran and the US has shrunk. Washington and Teheran are a little over 6,000 air miles apart. The distance between Caracas, Venezuela and Washington is right at 2,000 air miles. But lest we think we can still maintain a sense of safety, we must think again as the tragedy and heartache of Venezuela grows in its catastrophic dimensions.

The following are just a few facts which only skim the surface of treacherous waters rising in Venezuela and beyond. Venezuela’s free-fall has been years in the making stemming from the alliance forged between now-deceased Venezuelan socialist President Hugo Chavez and Iran’s Ahmadinejad. Three to four million Venezuelans have fled, pouring into neighboring, overwhelmed Columbia. The lights were out for six days recently with rampant looting from a hungry population where temperatures soar above 100 degrees. The electric grid was restored after a week but water is running out or contaminated. Hospitals were in the dark and have no medicines. Venezuelans are dying. Millions more are at risk of disease and death.

Although the Bolivar, Venezuela’s currency, is inflated at 2 million percent, socialist dictator Maduro is trying to make sure he’ll survive by working to transfer 20 tons of his gold out of Venezuela. Simultaneously, he’s ordered troops to burn humanitarian aid trucks at the border. Since 2017, the US has already provided $150 million in aid. The United Nations and other countries are pleading with Maduro to open the border for his citizens to receive desperately needed food and water.

The Christian Broadcast Network’s Contributing Correspondent Chuck Holton has reported that Maduro has emptied prisons, arming inmates, and giving them license to rape and pillage. He went on to comment, “Venezuelans allowed themselves to be disarmed in 2012. Caracas is now considered the most dangerous city in the world outside a war zone.” Welcome to malignant, cancerous socialism. Are Democrat Senator Bernie Sanders, the glamorously airheaded AOC, their socialist-leaning congressional cohorts, and misguided millennials aware of Venezuela’s capsizing ship of state? IF they are aware, denial has taken over in their worship of socialism gone-amuck.

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Thankfully, Trump’s Administration has recognized Juan Guaido as the legitimate Venezuelan President but the US State Department has ordered US Embassy staff home. The US and other nations are supplying aid to Columbia. And what about Iran? In 2015, Obama and Kerry, “the desperate duo,” smilingly bulldozed their bad-and now worse-Iran deal into existence. Cleverly disguised as an achievement, its main brokers in the US and Iran lured much of the world into naïve receptivity.

While Iran’s populace is not imploding like Venezuela’s, Iran faces mounting economic pressures spending too much in the thin air of nuclear deception. Although Iran has reserves of more than $50 billion, for example, their populace is restless; suffering under the theocratic Imams’ hegemonic goals to establish a modern caliphate resembling the ancient Persian empire. Nuclear capability is more important than the well-being of its people. Jobs are decreasing along with the plummeting Rial, Iran’s currency. Human rights violations-using Iran’s penal code of hanging, stoning, firing squads, and crucifixion-are increasing.

The Iranian Mullahs and Maduro are united against their common enemy, the US, who has slapped sanctions on both regimes. Iran’s elite military Quds Force has trained part of Venezuela’s military and Hezbollah, one of Iran’s surrogates, has been in Venezuela already for seven years. Adding to the volatile mixture is Russia’s 400 mercenaries who protect Maduro and China’s billions in loans to Venezuela. The Gatestone Institute, an American think tank, is calling Venezuela “the Syria of the Western Hemisphere.” A sad and sobering moniker.

A COUNTRY WHICH DOES NOT RESPECT THE RIGHTS OF ITS OWN CITIZENS WILL NOT RESPECT THE RIGHTS OF ITS NEIGHBORS.

ANDREI SAKHAROV, Soviet nuclear physicist and human rights activist

Let’s diverge to Cuba, a Maduro ally. Thirty thousand Cuban troops are on the ground in Venezuela. Little Cuba; a communist thorn in our side for decades with Havana only 105 air miles away…. a flight of minutes. Iran and Russia have embassies in Havana and in 2015 former President Obama gleefully opened the US Embassy. He celebrated with the Castros at a ballgame and while he did meet with some dissident leaders, it didn’t stop the regime from beating dissidents by dragging them in the streets and threatening to rape their daughters.

The Trump administration has maintained diplomatic relations yet is deeply concerned about Cuba’s still-repressive human rights record. In 2017 the US added prohibitions on doing business with Cuban military hoping to increase monies to Cuban entrepreneurs. Tourism was cut back as well. Making matters more disturbing, a shadowy health crisis arose where 26 American Embassy staffers suffered suspicious debilitating hearing and cognitive impairment. The US State Department ordered two-thirds of the staffers to leave Cuba. The perpetrators of the attack are still not yet determined, and Cubans vehemently deny they had anything to do with the attacks. Senator Marco Rubio observed, “Havana is one of the most heavily surveilled cities on the planet. There is no way the Cubans don’t know who did it—if they didn’t do it themselves.”

My own thoughts jumped first to the Iranian Embassy, then the Russians when I first heard of the attacks. It may sound “star-warrish” but some of the scientists and physicians are thinking that targeted, beamed, psychophysical microwaves could be the source of the serious maladies. The high-profile visits of Iran’s Foreign Minister Zarif and later President Hassan Rouhani to Cuba in 2016 symbolize their goals…to shore up trade and other connections and spread their version of Islamism and revolution in Cuba, Central, and South America. Personally, I don’t think it’s far-fetched to blame Iranians ensconced in Cuba for possible microwave warfare to reduce the presence of US diplomats in Cuba. Is it too far-fetched to worry that Cuba could become “Little Iran?” A repeat of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis with the Soviet Union?

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It’s a good thing that the United States Congress recognized Iran’s tentacles of Islamism wrapping around Central and South America. Congress passed a law in 2012-interestingly, signed by President Obama-called “The Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act of 2012.” It recognizes “Iran’s growing hostile presence and activity in the Western Hemisphere” with its diplomatic, military, and economic inroads in Latin America along with Hezbollah operations. Here’s the text of the law: https://www.congress.gov/112/plaws/publ220/PLAW-112publ220.pdf

Continuing to keep a close watch on the comings and goings of ships and planes from Iran to Cuba is vital. The last geopolitical chess move the US needs from Iran is the establishment of a “Little Iran” in Cuba. With Iran’s frequent threats against the US, their “Great Satan,” its goals could more easily morph into missile attacks from Cuba 90 miles away. In addition, with Iran’s years of flights between Caracas and Teheran and Iranian ships docking at Venezuela’s busiest port of La Guaira, Iran is already known for disguising Iranian passenger planes to covertly transport weapons into Syria.

Caught in the middle like so many populations in history, Venezuelans are ruled by a dictator clutching socialism in a narcissistic, evil embrace of power. His deadly embrace has resulted in the ruination of a once beautiful nation and people. Maduro’s socialism is as destructive as communism, Maoism, and other horrific “isms.”

I have no additional words to adequately describe my feelings except to say God have mercy on all who are oppressed. And may our United States Administration in concert with other free nations wisely and effectively rescue Venezuelans from socialism’s outcome.

About the Author
Arlene Bridges Samuels has held pioneering positions with Israel Always, American Israel Public Affairs Committee, (AIPAC) and International Christian Embassy Jerusalem's project (ICEJUSA), American Christian Leaders for Israel. Traveling to Israel since 1990, she is now an author at the Times of Israel, The Christian Post, Contributor to The Christian Broadcast Network and a networker, consultant, and speaker. Her articles have also appeared in Philos Project, Providence Magazine (The Institute on Religion and Democracy), ICEJ's Word from Jerusalem, Mercy Ships, and Concerned Women for America. She shares her devotionals, The Eclectic Evangelical, on Facebook and is an active member of a small Anglican church. After attending Winthrop University in her home state of South Carolina, Arlene earned her Masters degree at the University of Alabama. Every season, she looks forward to the Alabama Crimson Tide winning SEC and national football championships!
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