Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez is one of the few world leaders to stand by Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, even as hundreds of thousands take to the streets of Iran’s cities to protest his re-election claim. A Venezuelan foreign ministry statement, “in the name of the people,” hailed the “extraordinary democratic development” that resulted in Ahmadinejad’s victory.
“The Bolivarian government of Venezuela expresses its firm rejection of the ferocious and unfounded campaign to discredit, from abroad, that has been unleashed against Iran, with the objective of muddying the political climate of this brother country,” said the statement issued June 16. “We demand the immediate end to maneuvers to intimidate and destabilize the Islamic Revolution.”
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva has also backed Ahmadinejad—even comparing the post-election unrest to grousing football fans after a match. “For now, it is a matter of flamenguistas and vascainos,” he told the Brazilian newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo, referring to fans of the rival Brazilian football fans clubs Flamengo and Vasco da Gama. “It is not the first country that holds an election in which someone wins and the loser protests.”
Chávez and Lula belong to a small circle of political bedfellows who support Ahmadinejad, including the King of Swaziland, the militant Palestinian organization Hamas, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. (AP, June 19; McClatchy Newspapers, June 17)