The Iranian regime continues to expand its presence in the Americas. Yesterday, officials with Ecuador’s Central Bank announced that the Iran Export Development Bank will open a branch in Quito. This is part of an agreement penned in December 2008 when Ecuador’s Rafael Correa visited Tehran. “The agreement is in line with the Ecuadorian government’s policy to develop trade and diplomatic relations with many countries in the world to expand its market,” said Central Bank Head Carlos Vallejo.
Under U.S. law, Iran’s Export Development Bank and its officials are specially designated nationals (SDNs). SDNs individuals and companies owned or controlled by, or acting for or on behalf of, a targeted country – in this case Iran, a state sponsor of terrorism. As detailed by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, “the SDN list includes individuals, groups, and entities, such as terrorists and narcotics traffickers designated under programs that are not country-specific. Collectively, such individuals and companies are called “Specially Designated Nationals” or “SDNs.” Their assets are blocked and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from dealing with them.” In other words, bad seeds.
Iran meddling in the Western Hemisphere is not new. It has been ongoing for several years. With the support anti-U.S. axis countries led by Cuba and Venezuela, Iranian regime officials have been quietly developing a foundation for engagement throughout the Western Hemisphere. The Iranian regime seems to be moving beyond a proxy effort (i.e., supporting like-minded groups and fellow travelers in the region such as Hezbollah and other terrorists), to direct engagement with regional governments. Started in Cuba decades ago, it has spread to Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador.
Rafael Correa and his diplomats have craftily cultivated relations with the U.S., attempting to project an image of a populist reformer. In reality, they have destroyed a South American democracy where freedom and rule of law play second fiddle to implementing a Bolivarian Revolution in Ecuador. Inviting Iran to invest in the region is part of the strategy. Ecuador recent actions involving Iran are consistent with his support of other terrorists, Colombia’s FARC. Someone at Foggy Bottom should call him on it.