The Iran-Venezuela Connection

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The Iran-Venezuela Connection

On November 2007, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez made his seventh trip to Iran, strengthening bilateral relations and trade between the two countries.

The Iranian daily E’temad describes these relations between Tehran and Caracas as “brotherly” and underlined that bilateral relations between the two countries have reached their height under Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, expanding also to other Latin American countries.

Also, the English edition of published the personal story of Iranian anti-regime dissident journalist Manuchehr Honarmand, who was arrested at the Caracas airport even though he holds Dutch citizenship and ended up spending three years in a Venezuelan prison.

The following are excerpts from the E’temad article and from the story on

Iran-Venezuela Relations Started During Khatami’s Presidency

“Venezuelan President [Hugo Chavez’s] seventh trip to Iran takes place at a time when Tehran and Caracas have increased their bilateral relations and trade volume. Although the beginning of the history in their relations goes back to four decades ago, the new round of relations between Tehran and Caracas began since the formation of the Iranian reformist government headed by President Muhammad Khatami.” [1]

“Iranian dissidents state that [former president] Khatami had no interest in pursuing an alliance with Venezuela. But this was the policy of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who controls foreign policy. The reasons to seek out links with Venezuela were multiple. At the time, Iran, under international pressure, was looking for new alliances particularly among the so-called non-aligned countries. In the Middle East, Iran there were only Syria and Qatar, but it had no base close to the United States.” [2]

Ahmadinejad, Chavez Deepen Relations

“Tehran and Caracas are continuing to deepen their bilateral relations at a time when, because of the nuclear dossier, Iran is faced with the threat of the United States and other Western countries more than at any other time in the past. Hence, this issue has led to verbal support from Hugo Chavez for Iran, on many occasions. Perhaps this could be the reason for Chavez’s threat [to the U.S.] about increasing the price of oil if any military action were to be pursued against Iran.” [3]

“Although according to Ahmadinejad and Chavez the strategic alliance of Tehran and Caracas are not against the U.S., their similar remarks and statements about it indicate their common way of thinking…

“Many are of the opinion that Venezuela was looking for a companion against the U.S. and saw in Iran a good one in this difficult path… However, even though Venezuela mantains verbal opposition towards U.S. policies, it has developed considerable trade relations with the U.S. Furthermore, Venezuela is one of the exporters of oil to the U.S.” [4]

Direct Tehran-Caracas Flights Established

“The brotherly relations between Ahmadinejad and Chavez went as far as the establishment of a direct flight between the two countries, so that people of both countries could also benefit from the friendly relations…

“In addition, Tehran and Caracas have so far signed dozens of economic cooperation pacts… The joint oil field of both countries in Venezuela, which has a capacity of 236 billion barrels of heavy crude oil, is referred to as a strategic alliance.” [5]

“However, according to comments in the well-known Iranian blog Jomhour Iran, part of the Iranian population seemed unhappy about the two countries’ alliance. The Iranian regime has made huge investments in Venezuela – on the order of $2 billion – creating discontent among the Iranian people, who need domestic investment in order to rise above the poverty line.” [6]

Chavez Paved the Way For Iran Into South American Countries

“…Thanks to Chavez’s charismatic personality and Venezuela’s oil production and economic influence, he paved the way for Iran’s political relations with South American countries… Last September, Ahmadinejad visited [Bolivian President Juan Evo] Morales, and the two countries [Iran and Bolivia] signed a five-year industrial cooperation plan with a $1 billion investment as well as a $100 million plan to jointly develop technology and trade.

“[Also,] relations with Nicaragua, led by Sandinista President Daniel Ortega, and with Ecuador, led by Chavez’s personal friend President Rafael Correa, are developing. In exchange, Iran has received support from these Latin American countries against sanctions in the U.N.” [7]

An Iranian Anti-Regime Dissident Journalist’s Story

“A witness to the beginning of Iranian-Venezuelan relations is Manuchehr Honarmand, an Iranian dissident journalist… Honarmand is a Dutch citizen who used to write columns for the Iranian opposition daily Kayhan International, based in London. In December 2002, he travelled to the U.S. to expand Kayhan distribution, and passed through Caracas. While in transit at the Caracas airport, waiting for a connecting flight, he was approached first by two Iranians, who asked him for information about himself, and shortly thereafter by two uniformed Venezuelan policemen.

“They handcuffed him and brought him to an office behind the transit area. Then the Venezuelan police beat him and forced him to sign papers in Spanish, which he was unable to understand. A few hours later, Honarmand found himself in a dark cell in Caracas, charged, on no evidence, with transporting drugs in a suitcase. For the first few months, the Venezuelan authorities refused to allow him to contact the Netherlands Embassy. According to the report by the Venezuelan National Guard, the suitcase [in question] was found with a Copa Airlines (a South American company) luggage tag, while Honarmand had been travelling on a KLM flight. Honarmand was robbed of his luggage and his money, and his papers and Dutch passport were confiscated.” [8]

“Honarmand was freed only in 2005, after 3 years, thanks to pressure by the Dutch government. He now lives in the Netherlands, but that experience has marked his life as a human being and as a journalist. Following his release, he devoted much of his work to gathering information on the nature of the ties between Tehran and Caracas.” [9]


[1] E’temad (Iran), November 19, 2008.

[2] (Saudi-owned, Dubai-based), “Unholy alliance between Caracas and Tehran,” Roberto Barducci, January 13, 2008.

[3] E’temad (Iran), November 19, 2008.

[4] E’temad (Iran), November 19, 2008.

[5] E’temad (Iran), November 19, 2008.

[6] (Saudi-owned, Dubai-based), “Unholy alliance between Caracas and Tehran,” Roberto Barducci, January 13, 2008.

[7] (Saudi-owned, Dubai-based), “Unholy alliance between Caracas and Tehran,” Roberto Barducci, January 13, 2008.

[8] (Saudi-owned, Dubai-based), “Unholy alliance between Caracas and Tehran,” Roberto Barducci, January 13, 2008.

[9] (Saudi-owned, Dubai-based), “Unholy alliance between Caracas and Tehran,” Roberto Barducci, January 13, 2008.

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