Close to sixty percent of the Bolivian people live at or below extreme poverty. You would think its left-wing ruler, Evo Morales, would focus all of his waking energies on reforms that could make a dent on that data point including lowering taxes, encouraging trade and foreign investment. Of course, that would be logical. Morales and a few other Latin American leaders are busy trying to undermine U.S. interests and security throughout the Americas.
Rather than focus on economic and political reform Morales, with the assistance of terror states Cuba, possibly Iran and Hezbollah, has opened the General Juan Jose Torres Anti-Imperialist Special Forces Military Academy. At the dedication ceremony in August, Morales said if the United States teaches “domination of the world from its military schools, we will learn from this school to free ourselves from imperial oppression.” Morales, with the support of Cuba, Ecuador, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and other anti-U.S. powers in the region, want to use this academy to counter the U.S. training programs at places such as Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC).
Latin American leftists, as well as the Americans who support them, for decades have railed against WHINSEC and other U.S. training and assistance programs. WHINSEC provides “professional education and training to military, law enforcement, and civilian personnel of nations of the Western Hemisphere” consistent with the Organization of American States’s (OAS) democratic charter. Of course terror states such as Cuba, among others, are not allowed to attend.
With support from Democratic Members of Congress, left-wing groups been demanding that WHINSEC be shut down. One of their strongest allies in Congress is Democrat Representative Jim McGovern from Massachusetts. During the last Congress McGovern and 54 other Democrats sponsored a bill to shut down WHINSEC, H.R. 2989, the Latin America Military Training Review Act. According to WHINSEC opponents, the program has created war criminals and human rights abusers as well as been responsible for destabilizing governments throughout the Americas.
McGovern and the left-wing special interest groups pushing for WHINSEC’s closure have been very quiet about Bolivia’s parallel school. And I doubt they are going to say much about it either. Interestingly, it does not appear that McGovern has introduced his anti-WHINSEC measure this Congress. Have they given up now that Bolivia is hosting a military academy for regional powers opposed to the U.S.? Doubtful. I suspect the reason they are so quiet is purely political, they do not want to embarrass their party, president, or presidential candidate. This new school is one more foreign policy failure for the Obama administration and, by default, his former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Bolivia withdrew from WHINSEC in 2008 – we should’ve tossed them out – and set about creating this new school with the support of Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and possibly, Iran. The Iran connection is a curious. When Morales first opened his parallel military academy in 2011, he had invited Ahmad Vahidi to the opening ceremonies. At that time Vahidi was a senior commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp.
Vahidi is wanted in Argentina for his role the 1994 terrorist attack of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people and injured hundreds. In 2007, an INTERPOL Red Notice was issued for his arrest. Morales must have known this but he still invited him for the photo-op, so much for INTERPOL collaboration in Latin America. Vahidi was on the ground for less than five hours; the Argentines were incensed and Morales forced to apologize for inviting Vahidi to the grand opening. I think the entire incident was staged to send a message to Uncle Sam, and Argentina’s left-wing ruler, Kirchner, could’ve cared less about it.
There is some evidence of Iran’s involvement with Morales’s Anti-Imperialist academy, at least based on public sources; however, the connections are tenuous, at best. Ahmadinejad and Morales inked in 2012 a military cooperation agreement, the year after the pre-cursor to the Anti-Imperialist school was opened. In the MOU Iran and Bolivia promised to cooperate with counter drug, intelligence, and jungle operations training.
While is a lack of sufficiently reliable information in the public domain about Iran’s involvement with the academy, there is enough circumstantial evidence for the Congress to probe deeper not just on this issue, but linkages to other related issues such as narcoterrorism, Cuba’s premature removal from the U.S. state sponsors of terrorism list, the FARC and much more.