South America and Islamist Militants: Possible Repercussions of Terrorist Alignments in the Wake of Hugo Chavez’s Death

By Yakir Pimentel, Edited by Col. Gordon Forbes (ret.)

FARC in South AmericaThe ‘Tri-Border Region’ – comprised of the convergence point between the Brazilian, Paraguayan and Argentine borders – has long been a significant concern for regional security authorities. The weak military presence, coupled with insufficient border control – and the impenetrable jungle thicket – provide excellent conditions for regional drug trafficking gangs to operate freely and with little concern for government intervention. Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, and Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, are the region’s principal money-laundering centers creating the largest focal points for illegal financing. (Hudson, Rex. Terrorist and Organized Crime Groups in the Tri-Border Area [TBA] of South America, 2010, Page 2, Paragraph 2)

The Lebanese military organization, Hezbollah, has been suspected of utilizing the Tri-border Region (TBR) since the late 1980’s as a base of operations, a transhipment point of personnel and materiel, and training grounds for new and current troops. Hezbollah’s relationship with Iran as their militant proxy group has allowed them to take advantage of the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s personal relationship with former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. This relationship has allowed them to acquire new regions in which to operate. It has also yielded direct aid from a South American government and possible new business connections with Venezuela’s proxy group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). (Pickell, Sam. Radical Islam’s Western Foothold: Hugo Chavez and Hezbollah, 2010)

This article will argue that the relationship between Hezbollah and Venezuela destabilizes regional political cooperation. The destabilization factors include: a breakdown in interstate diplomatic relations; military interventions from regional and external forces; and lastly, violence between terrorist groups as funding methods overlap between FARC and Hezbollah. This will be examined through an analysis of the political and military connections between Venezuela and Hezbollah.

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