From Americas Society/Council of the Americas. AS/COA Online's news brief examines the major—as well as some of the overlooked—events and stories occurring across the Americas. Check back every Wednesday for the weekly roundup.
Ahmadinejad Tours Latin America
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad began a tour of four Latin American countries on Sunday, beginning in Venezuela and traveling to Nicaragua yesterday for President Daniel Ortega’s inauguration. He is visiting Cuba today, and will fly to Ecuador on Thursday. Ahmadinejad is continuing efforts to expand Iran’s political and economic influence in the region, even while a crisis involving Western sanctions and a threat to block the Strait of Hormuz takes place in Iran. In an interview with Al Jazeera, COA Vice President Eric Farnsworth commented on Iran’s relationship with its few Latin American allies: “It is certainly a marriage of political convenience. In other words, they need each other."
Read an AS/COA News Analysis about Ahmadinejad’s trips to Latin America.
U.S. House Speaker Leads Delegation to LatAm
House speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is leading a congressional delegation to Latin America this week, with stops in Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico to focus on energy and economic security. As well as discussing implementation of Colombia’s free-trade agreement—recently ratified by the U.S. Congress—the delegation will also consider energy issues in Brazil. During the first leg of the trip in Rio de Janeiro, the delegation visited a recently pacified favela.
Romney Releases First Spanish-Language Ad
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has released a Spanish-language campaign ad in Florida. The ad is narrated by Romney’s Spanish-speaking son Craig. The Washington Posts’ The Fix blog states that “while the ad does not mention Cuba, Cuban-Americans are obviously Romney’s focus,” given that 72 percent of registered Republicans in Miami Dade county are of Hispanic descent and largely Cuban-Americans. The ad features three Cuban-born Florida Republican lawmakers: Representative Mario Díaz-Balart, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and former Representative Lincoln Díaz-Balart.