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Jun 1, 2019 0 Comments

VRIC Monitor: June 2019 Publications

June 2019
The VRIC Monitor is a one-of-a-kind, monthly report from SFS tracking extra-regional influence in Latin America. VRIC stands for Venezuela, Russia, Iran,China where Venezuela represents the Bolivarian Revolution and the broader Bolivarian Alliance or ALBA. Likewise, Iran represents the Iranian Revolution and a growing presence of Middle Eastern actors in Latin America, namely its chief proxy, Hezbollah. The monitor is comprised of open source information selected by SFS analysts and fellows. This is not a complete list of media reports on VRIC presence in Latin America, but a snapshot of open-source media highlighting the major areas of VRIC influence.

OVERVIEW  

The first fissure in the VRIC alliance is potentially emerging as Russia negotiates with the U.S. its position on Venezuela. The recent news that Russia’s state defense contractor Rostec is reportedly reducing its personnel in Venezuela has prompted speculation of a Russian withdrawal of support to Nicolás Maduro. Hanging in the balance are Venezuela’s Interim President Juan Guaidó’s efforts to find a solution to transition to free and fair elections. Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov holds talks with his Colombian counterpart Carlos Trujillo about the crisis in Venezuela after earlier talks in May with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

As Russia possibly recedes, China aggressively pursues initiating the region’s first 5G networks next year through its controversial tech company Huawei, moving around the company’s recent ban in the United States. China is currently working with Mexico, Argentina, and potentially, Brazil and Colombia to build telecom infrastructure in Latin America. Even in Venezuela, Huawei is working with the Maduro regime to bring a 4G wireless network to the country as the PRC increases its humanitarian support to Venezuela through two additional shipments of medical supplies in May.

Turkey has continued to increase its diplomatic engagement with Latin America, inaugurating a new Paraguayan embassy in Ankara on May 2nd, followed by a visit to Cuba, Mexico, and Guatemala in mid-May by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. Turkey’s burgeoning relationship with Iran has introduced a new actor to Latin America, Azerbaijan. While Iran keeps a low profile in the region, Azerbaijan’s recent diplomatic overture to South America and Mexico potentially provides another avenue for the Islamic Republic to advance its proxy networks in the region.

 

Read the full report, here.

May 1, 2019 0 Comments

VRIC Monitor: May 2019 Publications

May 2019
The VRIC Monitor is a one-of-a-kind, monthly report from SFS tracking extra-regional influence in Latin America. VRIC stands for Venezuela, Russia, Iran,China where Venezuela represents the Bolivarian Revolution and the broader Bolivarian Alliance or ALBA. Likewise, Iran represents the Iranian Revolution and a growing presence of Middle Eastern actors in Latin America, namely its chief proxy, Hezbollah. The monitor is comprised of open source information selected by SFS analysts and fellows. This is not a complete list of media reports on VRIC presence in Latin America, but a snapshot of open-source media highlighting the major areas of VRIC influence.

OVERVIEW  

The Venezuela crisis continues to serve as a proxy battle by the VRIC nations against the United States. Russia is the most forward-facing member of the alliance with Vladimir Putin threatening to act in the event of U.S. intervention and helping build up the Maduro military with more shipments of riot gear, tear gas canisters, and a new helicopter training facility in Venezuela. But Russia is not Venezuela’s only ally; Nicolás Maduro and his regime are shoring up its international support within the non-aligned movement. Meanwhile, the U.S. tightens sanctions against Venezuela and other ALBA nations, namely Nicaragua and Cuba, adding to the recent measures taken against Iran and Hezbollah, including officially designating the IRGC as a terrorist entity and listing a $10 million reward for information that can disrupt Hezbollah’s financial networks.

As Venezuela takes center stage, its ally Bolivia moves quietly to strengthen its cooperation with VRIC allies and non-ALBA nations in South America. It seems that a strategic play is taking place at the Port of Ilo, Peru potentially providing Bolivia with alternative access to the Pacific Ocean. Moreover, China deepens its financial ties to Latin America with its second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, and Turkey, Qatar, and the UAE are increasing their diplomatic engagement with the region in an effort to form direct commercial ties. April has seen burgeoning activity from all VRIC nations in Latin America, highlighting a notable trend that when one VRIC nation asserts its presence in a particular country, the other allies compound with additional deals and diplomatic engagement further reinforcing the VRIC alliance in Latin America.

 

Read the full report, here.

Apr 1, 2019 0 Comments

VRIC Monitor: April 2019 Publications

April 2019
The VRIC Monitor is a one-of-a-kind, monthly report from SFS tracking extra-regional influence in Latin America. VRIC stands for Venezuela, Russia, Iran,China where Venezuela represents the Bolivarian Revolution and the broader Bolivarian Alliance or ALBA. Likewise, Iran represents the Iranian Revolution and a growing presence of Middle Eastern actors in Latin America, namely its chief proxy, Hezbollah. The monitor is comprised of open source information selected by SFS analysts and fellows. This is not a complete list of media reports on VRIC presence in Latin America, but a snapshot of open-source media highlighting the major areas of VRIC influence.

OVERVIEW  

As international pressure mounts against the Maduro regime in Venezuela, its extra-regional allies Russia, Iran, and China continue offering various forms of aid: Russia is providing military support, China is protecting critical infrastructure, and Iran is voicing support for the Maduro regime through state-run media. In March, Russia and China have supplied Venezuela with military technicians and more humanitarian aid. With additional U.S. sanctions on Venezuela’s state mining agency, Minerven, and its chief executive, the Maduro regime is increasingly relying on VRIC support to find alternative sources of revenue and financial channels to evade sanctions.

As Venezuela continues to dominate headlines worldwide, the VRIC nations are operating throughout the region. Russia and China prompt a nuclear energy race in Latin America, with China engaging in nuclear talks with Argentina and Russia collaborating on Bolivia’s nuclear program. Whereas, Brazil starts to edge out China to work closer with the U.S. on the heels of a historic visit to Washington, D.C. on March 17-19 by President Jair Bolsonaro.

 

Read the full report, here.