In debate, Romney, Perry warn of Islamist terrorists in Latin America. Are they right?
In last night's Republican presidential debate on foreign policy, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry warned that Hezbollah and Hamas are operating in Latin America and pose a major threat to the US.
Amid last night's Republican presidential debate on foreign policy, one of the more obscure references made by candidates was to the threat of Islamic terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah operating in Latin America.Skip to next paragraph
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Both Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney cited Islamist threats in Latin America. Governor Perry claimed that "Hamas and Hezbollah are working in Mexico, as well as Iran, with their ploy to come into the United States," and warned of Iran's close ties to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
And after former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania said his first international visits would include Central and South America, Governor Romney agreed about the importance of Latin America to US security. "We have, right now, Hezbollah, which is working throughout Latin America, in Venezuela, in Mexico, throughout Latin America, which poses a very significant and imminent threat to the United States of America," he said.
Are Perry and Romney correct?
The answer to Perry's two main claims appears to be "no and sort of." It isn't clear what Perry is referring to in regards to Hamas and Hezbollah operating in Mexico. Mexican Ambassador to the US Arturo Sarukhan took issue with Perry's claim, tweeting, "Despite statements during #CNNDebate, Hamas & Hezbollah are not active in Mexico, as most recent @StateDept Annual Terrorism report confirms."
But as to Perry's warning about Iran's relationship with Venezuela and President Chavez, those ties are well documented. Given Iran's purported involvement with Mexican gangsters in the October assassination plot against the Saudi ambassador to the US and Iran's close relationship with Hezbollah – both are part of an anti-Israel "Axis of Resistance" – Perry may have mistakenly conflated the two relationships, resulting in his claim that Hezbollah is operating in Mexico.