Cuba welcomes Ahmadinejad; Ecuador up next
A hand signaling victory as it snuck its way out the the window of his limousine, a warm welcome at La Havana University with an honorary doctorate conferred, and absolutely no mention of his alleged obsession with making his country a nuclear heavyweight. That was Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to Cuba yesterday, in a nutshell.
The Iranian leader arrived in his official plane for a quick visit to his friends, the brothers Castro, Raúl, Cuba’s president, and Fidel, the island’s longstanding leader.
Even though Ahmadinejad’s tour of the Americas was promoted as a trip “to help promote commercial ties” with the region, the Iranian leader still lived up to his audience’s expectations.
“Thankfully we are already witnessing that the capitalist system is in decay,” Ahmadinejad said. “On various stages it has come to a dead end — politically, economically, and culturally.”
Ahmadinejad also spoke of the “solidarity between two revolutionary peoples,” butobservers were quick to point out one striking difference Cuba and Iran’s revolts: “Iran’s ushered in a religious Islamic government, while Communist Cuba under Fidel Castro was officially atheist for decades.”
As Ecuador readies itself to receive Ahmadinejad at 1:00pm local time, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) released a statement wondering if “Correa’s Uranium Can Assist Iran’s Nuclear Program.”
“Ahmadinejad’s stop in Ecuador illustrates a growing strategic partnership between Rafael Correa and the regime in Tehran,” Ros-Lehtinen says. “Over the last five years, Iran’s economic investments in Ecuador have been effectively used to secure a loyal ally within our Hemisphere that could help Iran circumvent U.S. and UN sanctions. Iran’s deepened alliance with Correa also facilitates Tehran’s ability to access Ecuador’s uranium deposits.”
Even if some may write off Ros-Lehtinen’s comments as par for the course for Republican rhetoric – she previously labeled Ahmadinejad’s presence in the region as a “Tour of Tyrants” - the U.S. media does seem to agree with the congresswoman’s assessment of Correa’s leanings.
On Wednesday, a Washington Post editorial described President Correa as “an autocratic acolyte of Hugo Chavez who is usually and deservedly ignored outside of his own country, (and) will get little attention Thursday.”