June 25, 2013

Ana Maria Luca

According to several reports from intelligence services as well as testimonies of arrested businessmen and security experts, Hezbollah has an important fundraising network in the Latin American countries. This network is based on Iran's increasing diplomatic, economic, and military cooperation with the socialist Bolivarian countries (Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador). But the party also has its network of donors in the large Lebanese diaspora in Colombia, Brazil, and Paraguay.

In the last decade, Iran has increased its diplomatic and economic presence in Latin America even though Tehran had no historic, cultural, or trade ties with the region. Nonetheless, it's friendship with Venezuela is based on the same "anti-imperialist" and anti-American stance, in addition to a similar military strategy adopted by both countries – Venezuela supported the socialist Revolutionary Armed Forces in Colombia (FARC) in Colombia the way Iran supported Hezbollah.

The developing economies of Latin American countries attracted many immigrants from Lebanon. South America became popular as an emigration destination around two decades ago because the process of emigration to Australia and the United States had become very difficult.
South America's Tri-Border Area (TBA) – the relatively lawless region
near the Atlantic coast where the borders of Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil meet – has for years drawn attention as a center of contraband smuggling, drug trafficking, and large-scale money laundering, in part because all of the countries whose borders are involved profit from the illicit trade. Coincidentally, this area also has a large Lebanese Shiite business community. A 2003 study by the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress and the Central Intelligence Agency's Crime and Narcotics Center concluded that "Hezbollah has reaped hundreds of millions of dollars from narcotics and arms trafficking, product piracy, and other illicit activities in the TBA." Several businessmen of Lebanese origin have been arrested over the years for narcotics smuggling and money laundering. Hezbollah does not hide its presence in South America. Nor do supporters of the paramilitary group hide their political views – they openly admit to donating money to Hezbollah's welfare system and military arsenal in Lebanon. But to what extent these supporters are involved in organized crime with or without the knowledge of Hezbollah's leadership in Lebanon is yet to be proven. The question, however, still remains.

Read this article in Arabic

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  • pepito.perez.7547031

    I'm from South America and remember quite well the massive inmigration in the early Eighties following Israel's invasion of Lebanon. Most of those poor guys had difficulties learning Spanish and became specialised in ambulant shoe repair & scissors & knifes sharpening. Now, as the South American I am, where I do not really see the author's point is in why to make all such a fuss about Hezbollah when, on the other hand, the CIA and other agencies (including from European countries) have traditionally had very large & clandestine stations in all of our countries and influenced our different countries at large (for instance, with the active financial, material & logistic backing of military coups & paramilitary groups, a.k.a. Death Squads). Is it a matter of double-standards? Surely. Apart from the two sickening bombings in Buenos Aires (and it is still debatable whether it was indeed the Hezbollah or some false-flag operation), Hezbollah is looking for money & weapons in our countries, but does not interfere with our countries, it is too busy minding its own business in Lebanon. Western agencies have been actively manipulating our countries, ever since independence days. If we are stupid and wish to make friends with international pariahs like Hezbollah, North Korea, you name it... well, that's our perfect right! No mistakes, no learning! In your eyes, Hezbollah is the bad guy. Fine. Me too I loathe their terrorist attacks. The difference is that I do not point to just one terrorist group. If I am to be taken seriously, then I have to point to all of them. That's when the US State Dept. and all the other Western agencies come in. You may disguise in sheep, but we can still smell the wolf. I can only hope you don't take me to Guantanamo for disagreeeing with you!

    August 8, 2013

  • aml16091

    I think the texts for Paraguay and Brazil cover the TBA.

    June 27, 2013

  • Georges Melhem

    What about the triborder area? their strongest base in latin america...

    June 27, 2013