Peru's ex-military chief sees Iranian threat in region; Bolivia claims Sendero subversion
Gen. Francisco Contreras, chief of staff of Peru's armed forces until his retirement earlier this year, told the Jerusalem Post July 25 that he believes Iran's growing presence in Latin America poses a threat to regional stability. "It appears that Iranian organizations provide support to other terrorist organizations," he said. "We definitely need to be concerned with the growing presence of Iran in South America. It appears that Iranian organizations provide support to other terrorist organizations, and that there is cooperation between them."
He especially noted Iran's increasing ties with Venezuela and Bolivia. "There is something strange in the relationship [Venezuelan President Hugo] Chávez has forged with Iran, as is the presence of the Iranian defense minister in Bolivia on a recent visit," he stated darkly.
The Post notes that Israel's military ties with Peru go back several decades, and in recent years include the sale of Spike anti-tank missile to the Andean nation's army, as well as Israeli drones to its air force. Contreras defended his controversial decision to contract the Israeli security firm Global CST. In 2009, the government of Peru signed a $9 million deal with Global CST, run by former IDF general Yisrael Ziv to help combat remnant Sendero Luminoso insurgents. Although the remnant insurgency has not been crushed, Contreras asserted that CST Global assistance and new US military made a significant difference. "The combination brought a major change, and our military became more offensive and took the battle to the terrorists, instead of always being on the defensive," he said. (JP, July 25)
Bolivian police meanwhile announced the arrest of four Sendero Luminoso militants in the city of El Alto on Aug. 1, saying they were distributing pamphlets attacking President Evo Morales. National Police special anti-crime director said the pamphlets called for Bolivians to protest against fuel price hikes, using the term “gasolinazo,” implying an outrage. The pamphlet reportedly read: "Alerta ¡no al gasolinazo!, fuera las transnacionales de Bolivia, socias de Evo, ¡Viva el marxismo, leninismo maoísmo!" (Alert: No to the gasoline outrage! Transnationals, partners of Evo, out of Bolivia! Long live Marxism, Leninism, Maoism!)
Government Minister Sacha Llorenti said three of the detained would be deported to Peru, while the fourth has a political asylum application pending, and his case will be reviewed by Bolivian immigration authorities. Llorenti linked the arrested men to Ulser Pillpa Paitán AKA "Comrade Johnny"—another presumed Sendero militant detained as a drug trafficker on the border with Peru in June. "Comrade Johnny" was detained with two of his brothers, and were said to be impersonating police. (El Mundo, Santa Cruz, Aug. 3; AFP, El Comericio, Lima, La Prensa, La Paz, Aug. 2)