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Venezuelan Bishop Warns of Iran’s Rising Influence in the Country

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro speaks at a meeting for re-branding the country in Caracas Feb. 11, 2019. (Photo; CNS/Manaure Quintero, Reuters) 

By Inés San Martín 

ROSARIO, Argentina (Crux) – According to one Venezuelan bishop, the world should be concerned by the growing military presence of Iran in his country.

This presence, Bishop Mario Moronta of San Cristobal argued, is not based on an interest in the Venezuela’s mineral resources but is part of an effort to establish a geopolitical base.

In a letter published earlier this week, Bishop Moronta warns that, “far from what many think, the Iranians are not as interested – as other nations are – in Venezuelan resources (certainly there is an interest here);” instead, what encouraged this Middle Eastern country to do business with this South American nation is the possibility of “penetrating” Venezuela to “establish a strategic base, geopolitical in nature.”

The prelate begins his letter by saying that he’s made this warning to the Venezuelan bishops’ conference, but thus far, he’s been mostly ignored by bishops and experts alike, who are more worried about the presence of Cuban intelligence agents in the country.

“I pointed out the same thing in various forums and meetings and almost no one paid any attention to me,” he writes. “Only one professor and sociologist known to many heeded this, warning at the same time of the risk of allowing the presence of a process of ‘Islamization’ in the nation to be easily overlooked.”

“Venezuela now becomes in a clear and ‘peaceful’ way a partner of Iran, by allowing it to put its bases of operations in our country,” Bishop Moronta continues. “Let’s not be naïve. Its presence had and has a geopolitical objective: To penetrate a privileged region in Latin America.”

The Bishop of San Cristobal also warns in his letter that the country “facing an abyss and we cannot take a step forward, because we are rushing to the precipice.”

“You can ask me if I have a proposal … but at this moment I consider that an important step is to become aware of the disaster in which we are involved, of what is coming to us, of the time that has been lost, of what could have been,” he writes, regretting that instead of listening to the “voice of the people who want an authentic leadership that offered true hope and not fantasies,” the thought of “advisers and experts” prevailed with no successful outcome.

Though Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro still holds the support of many in the country, the situation in Venezuela is one of the worst in Latin America: An estimated 90 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, and 80 percent of people live in extreme poverty, dependent on state resources to survive.

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