June 13, 2023 | Flash Brief

Iran’s Raisi Embarks on Five-Day Tour of Latin American Countries

June 13, 2023 | Flash Brief

Iran’s Raisi Embarks on Five-Day Tour of Latin American Countries

Latest Developments

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi landed in Caracas on June 12, the first stop of a five-day visit to Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua. Accompanying Raisi is a large delegation, including the Iranian ministers of foreign affairs, defense, petroleum, health, and culture and Islamic guidance. Raisi’s trip aims to cement an anti-American alliance in the region, whose goal is to diminish Washington’s influence and advance a multipolar world where authoritarian states like China, Iran, and Russia rise at the expense of U.S. power.

Although this is Raisi’s first trip to the region, high-profile Iranian visits have been frequent. Foreign Minister Amir Abdollahian was in Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua last February, preparing the ground for the presidential visit. Minister of Petroleum Javad Owji also visited Caracas last April.

Expert Analysis

“Venezuela has increasingly become a center for Iran’s revolutionary agitation in the Western Hemisphere, with President Maduro’s full support. Today, the Iran-Venezuela relationship is a full-fledged strategic alliance that extends to their ideological allies, Cuba, and Nicaragua. Raisi intends to deepen bilateral and multilateral cooperation with this precise goal: undermine America in its own neighborhood.” — Emanuele Ottolenghi, FDD Senior Fellow

Challenging America in the Western Hemisphere

Iran and its Latin American allies view themselves as part of a “resistance front” against the United States and coordinate their policies against U.S. sanctions. At a press conference held before boarding his plane to Caracas, Raisi declared that Iran and its regional allies share “their stance against the system of domination” created by the United States. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and Iran’s Foreign Minister Abdollahian echoed this position during their February meeting in Caracas, when they discussed the need for “vigilance in defending their national interests against external pressures.” This is the central theme of Raisi’s Latin America trip.

Deepening Defense and Disinformation Cooperation

Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela are under U.S. sanctions and are aligned with China and Russia. Raisi’s trip will build on the resistance rhetoric to increase cooperation in defense, disinformation, and the fight against sanctions.

Iran has already shared drone technology with Venezuela and made itself indispensable to Venezuela’s oil industry. Raisi will seek to promote closer ties between their defense and oil sectors.

To promote disinformation, Iran already operates HispanTV, a Latin America-focused Spanish-language media outlet. Various Iranian official media channels also have a Spanish edition. Iran has established academic programs in Bolivia and Venezuela and launched recruitment efforts through affiliates of the U.S.-sanctioned Al Mustafa University, including in Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. New bilateral agreements signed between Iran and its regional counterparts in the spheres of telecommunication, information, culture and Islamic guidance will help expand this cooperation.

Related Analysis

What is Venezuela flying to Moscow?” by Emanuele Ottolenghi

“The Kremlin Latin America Echo-Chamber,” by Emanuele Ottolenghi

“Soleimani University,” by Emanuele Ottolenghi

“How Iran is making inroads in Latin America,” by Emanuele Ottolenghi


Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran in Latin America