Iran's Influence in the Americas

A look into the effectiveness of Iran's outreach into Latin America and its implications for U.S. security policy.

The January 2012 visit by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to several Latin American countries marked his sixth visit to the region since his election in 2005.  The growing relationship between Iran and Latin America over the past 15 years, particularly with the ALBA countries of Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua, has raised alarms among U.S. policymakers.  Given the lack of transparency between Iran and its partners in Latin America, U.S. policymakers worry that Iran may be using Latin America to evade international sanctions and to support such terrorist organizations with a presence in the Americas, notably Hezbollah.  This project seeks to identify the extent of Iran’s outreach in Latin America and how effective it has been in building support for the Islamic Republic.  This project also seeks to provide U.S policymakers with clear recommendations on how the United States can best limit Iran’s influence in Latin America and how the United States can strengthen its own ties with its hemispheric neighbors.