signing a military training agreement with Bolivia along the way. Ahmadi-nejad made official visits to Bolivia and Venezuela; in addition, he attended a UN gathering on sustainable development in Rio de Janeiro.
The Bolivian daily Los Tiempos said Ahmadi-nejad and Bolivian President Evo Morales signed an agreement under which Iran will train some Bolivian military officers.
The agreement will be good for five years with an option for renewal, Los Tiempos reported. And the signed document also includes a confidentiality clause under which neither country is to detail the agreement.
The agreement, a memorandum of understanding (MOU), says that each six months Iran will train 10 Bolivian counterdrug officers in intelligence and jungle operations planning and will provide Bolivia’s counterdrug forces with communications gear. Los Tiempos said it hasn’t been decided whether the training will be done in Iran or Bolivia.
On Ahmadi-nejad’s first visit to Bolivia in 2007, he pledged $1.1 billion in aid. There have been complaints since then that little of that aid has materialized in five years. Los Tiempos said all Iran has done in that time is build a hospital and three dairy processing plants.
The Bolivian Foreign Ministry said before the visit that a new agreement to be signed on this trip would provide for a map of the Bolivian highlands to be drawn up. But Los Tiempos said that agreement was not signed and no one explained why.
This is not the first Iranian involvement with the Bolivian military. Last year, Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi visited Bolivia for the opening of its military academy, with which Iran is understood to be involved in some way.
Argentina screamed when Vahidi’s presence was announced; Vahidi is one of the people Argentina has charged with involvement in the 1994 bombing of the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires.
Argentina was incensed and called for Vahidi to be extradited to Buenos Aires. Within hours, Vahidi departed from Bolivia for home, cutting his visit short.
The Ahmadi-nejad visit was also abbreviated, but that was the way it was scheduled. It lasted only five hours and was more a photo
op than a serious visit.
The two presidents made statements that were very heavy on anti-imperialist rhetoric. That was also true when Ahmadi-nejad later visited Venezuela. All three presidents seemed intent on polishing their credentials as challengers of the American way.
The visit to Venezuela was largely a love fest between Ahmadi-nejad and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who is under treatment for cancer. The two men hugged each other repeatedly and alternated taking verbal pokes at the United States.
Ahmadi-nejad assailed the Western concept of freedom, saying that Washington uses the pretext of promoting democracy to dominate other countries.
In between the visits to Bolivia and Venezuela, Ahmadi-nejad attended the Rio+20 UN summit on sustainable development. There, Ahmadi-nejad delivered a fire-breathing speech that denounced the way the world is run under the leadership of America and insisted that the existing world order be replaced. But the speech failed to propose what the old order should be replaced with.
Ahmadi-nejad probably didn’t go near Rio’s famed Ipanema Beach during his visit. If he did, he would have seen hundreds of gays, Jews and human rights activists all protesting his visit. They didn’t object to any of other visitors, but singled out Ahmadi-nejad. Signs carried by the protesters said, “Rio does not welcome Mahmud Ahmadi-nejad” and “Iranians we love you.”
Some in Tehran complained that Ahmadi-nejad was treated shabbily in Brazil. Majlis Deputy Avaz Heydarpur pointed out that Brazilian President Dima Rousseff failed to meet with Ahmadi-nejad while he was in Rio and called that “disrespectful.”
But Ahmadi-nejad was not making an official visit to Brazil; he was attending an international conference. International protocol did not require Rousseff to meet with any of the attending chiefs of state.
Ahmadi-nejad did not visit Cuba, Nicaragua or Ecuador on this trip. Those are the other anti-imperialist states he has visited in the past. It wasn’t known why they were skipped this time.