Israel links the alleged emergence of Hizbullah cells in Colombian territory with the strategy of its biggest enemy, Iran, to further strengthen its relations with Latin America and particularly with Venezuela.

The Israeli government denounces the emergence of Hizbullah cells in La Guajira,
By Guillermo Reinoso R., Editor El Tiempo News Desk El Tiempo, 18 July 2009
(Translated from Spanish)
 
In an interview with El Tiempo, Dorit Shavit, the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s Deputy Director-General for Latin America and the Caribbean, said that there are mosques in which money is being collected for this terrorist organization.
 
Israel links the alleged emergence of Hizbullah cells in Colombian territory with the strategy of its biggest enemy, Iran, to further strengthen its relations with Latin America and particularly with Venezuela.
 
Precisely one month ago, the Supreme Court authorized the extradition to the U.S. of a Colombian accused of belonging to a drug trafficking organization with ties to the Islamist group.
 
In an interview with El Tiempo, Dorit Shavit, Deputy Director-General of the Division for Latin America and the Caribbean of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel, said that the "penetration" of Iran in the region, especially in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua, and the further strengthening of political and trade relations with Colombia would be some of the issues to be addressed by the Foreign Minister of Israel, Avigdor Liberman, on his visit to Bogota on July 28 and 29.
 
Why are you so worried by that penetration by Iran?
 
Iran’s leaders have declared that they want to wipe Israel off the map (…) and I must remind you that Iran was involved in the attacks against the Israeli Embassy in Argentina (1992) and the headquarters of the Argentine Jewish Mutual Association (AMIA) in Buenos Aires (1994).
 
How does this increased presence in the region operate?
 
By opening new embassies and increasing the number of diplomats in existing ones, such as Uruguay and Chile. Iran has already opened embassies in La Paz and in Managua, has one in Bogota and is making efforts in Panama and Peru. It has also signed more than 200 cooperation agreements with Venezuela and is using this relationship to penetrate into other countries.
 
Isn’t that the normal work of any diplomacy?
 
We cannot deny that there is a commercial objective, but along with the Iranian penetration, Hizbullah cells are also arriving: For instance, in La Guajira. There, Colombia may also be threatened. Iran has opened a direct flight line between Tehran and Caracas, and it seems that the flights are not commercial as no tourists arrive on them, only technicians and other types of people.
 
Is there a Hezbollah presence in La Guajira?
 
Iran began with Hizbullah cells on the border between Paraguay and Argentina and we know that cells have been established in La Guajira in recent years, and that there are plenty of mosques that are used not only to conduct religious ceremonies, but also to raise money and send it to the Middle East.
 
Are there Hizbullah cells in Venezuela already?
 
There are Hizbullah cells on the Margarita Islands as well. There is an organization called Hezbollah Venezuela (which became visible to the public eye in 2006 and is accused of having placed explosives near the U.S. Embassy in Caracas). We’re not talking about a human rights NGO.
 
 Signing of agreements between the two countries
 
During Liberman’s visit, agreements will be signed to streamline the relationship between foreign ministries and facilitate bilateral cooperation in science, technology, and tourism. Israel is interested in reaching an agreement on investment protection, which should encourage new businesses. Our country is Israel’s second commercial partner in Latin America, after Brazil.