Latin American expert Luis Fleischman told Newsmax Friday that the rise of leftist governments is leading to a deterioration of democracy in South and Central America.
He also warned that alliances between these governments and Iran could result in Iran placing nuclear weapons in the Western Hemisphere — within easy range of the United States.
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Fleischman is an adjunct professor of sociology and political science at Florida Atlantic University Honors College and the editor of "The Americas Report." He is also an adviser to the Menges Hemispheric Security Project at the Center for Security Policy and the author of the new book "Latin America in the Post-Chavez Era."
"There are certain areas in Latin America where democracy is flourishing. Take for instance Brazil, Chile, Uruguay," he said in an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV on Friday.
"But on the other hand, there are places such as Venezuela and the alliances Venezuela has made with other countries such as Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Ecuador, and obviously Cuba, where democracy deteriorates.
"The Bolivian revolution is a new type of socialist revolution," he continued. "One of the main characteristic is the state actually overruns civil society. The power of the executive overruns the legislative powers and the judiciary. This model is being imitated by a number of countries in Latin America, not only those who made alliances with Hugo Chavez, but also with countries such as Argentina. The president of Argentina admires Hugo Chavez and admires his style of government, which by the way continues after his death."
Hugo Chavez pursued alliances with the drug cartels, with the Iranians, and with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, Fleischman pointed out.
"The alliance with drug cartels is very dangerous," he says "What they are doing, besides intoxicating our society with drugs, is bribing and destroying the institutions of the state — the bureaucracy, the police, etc.
"Countries in Latin America are experiencing anarchy as a result of the presence of the drug cartels. Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, all these countries are experiencing anarchy."
The lack of government control in some areas could make them havens for terrorists. But even more disturbing, the leftist governments' ties with Iran are growing, Fleischman warned.
"The danger of the alliance with Iran is clear," he said.
"The best friends of Iran, after Syria, are Venezuela and its allies. So what happens if Iran develops a nuclear weapon? They can place nuclear missiles on Latin American soil and that could be a very serious danger to U.S. security because it enables Iran [to launch missiles] right here in our backyard."
Regarding China's relationship with Latin America, Fleischman said the Chinese have economic interests and "a political agenda" as well.
"They resent the fact that the United States has influence in their backyard," he told Newsmax. "We have strong relations with South Korea, with the Vietnamese, with Japan, and they resent that.
"Therefore the Chinese are looking to increase their political power in our own backyard. That means they will tend to increase their alliances with these anti-American liars led by Venezuela."
Other countries in the Western Hemisphere have reacted to the anti-democratic movement in parts of Latin America by "basically looking the other way," according to Fleischman.
"The Organization of American States has a charter that protects democracy. They basically endorse the idea that if one country is violating democracy they have every right to intervene in that country and demand that they restore democracy — not intervene military but demand that they restore democracy," he added.
"They have not done it with the Bolivian revolution, with Venezuela, and with its allies. They have ignored the violations of democracy so this is a lack of leadership on the part of Brazil and also the United States," he said.
Asked if American influence in Latin America is diminishing, Fleischman said, "It shouldn't because the United States is still the main trade partner of the majority of the countries, even though the Chinese are gaining ground. The United States used to be the largest partner of Brazil in trade, and today China is.
"Yet the United States has adopted a foreign policy of basically trying not to interfere in Latin American internal affairs, up to the point that they have not even properly demanded the restoration of democracy or the implementation of the OAS charter with regard to democracy."
Turning to Egypt, Fleischman says the Muslim Brotherhood, the liberals, and the military have all played a "terrible hand" following the ouster of Hosni Mubarak.
"I do not think that Egypt is going to fall into anarchy like Syria," he added. "But the Muslim Brotherhood is going to bring al-Qaida in and that is going to be a serious, serious problem.
"The United States should have had a planned policy toward Egypt after the transition to democracy in the post-Mubarak era. And our foreign policy at this time is let's try not to be involved. We have enough problems here domestically. We don't need to be involved in every region in the world," he said.
"So they dropped the ball on Egypt and now we have a problem."
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