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Maduro Mourns death of Ebrahim Raisi, an ‘unconditional friend’ of Venezuela

By José Luis Granados Ceja

MEXICO CITY, Mexico, ( – Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro expressed his shock at the news of the death of Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi and sent his condolences to the people of Iran.

“We are deeply saddened by having to say goodbye to an exemplary person, an extraordinary world leader, an excellent human being, defender of the sovereignty of his people and unconditional friend of our country,” said Maduro via social media.

Iran proclaimed five days of mourning for Raisi following news of his untimely death after his helicopter crashed Sunday in poor weather in mountains near the Azerbaijan border. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian was also aboard and killed.

First-vice president Mohammad Mokhber will take over as interim president.

The death of Raisi comes amid heightened regional tensions in the midst of the ongoing military campaign by Israel against Hamas, the Palestinian political-military organization widely understood to enjoy close ties with Iran.

“We are confident that the Islamic Republic of Iran will overcome the implications of this great loss; the brotherly Iranian people have institutions that can deal with this severe crisis,” Hamas said in a statement expressing its solidarity with Tehran.

Latin American leaders likewise reacted to the news. Brazilian president Lula da Silva, Bolivian President Luis Arce, and Cuban president Miguel Diaz-Canel also expressed their sadness and condolences over Raisi’s passing.

Having been elected president in 2021, Raisi made the strengthening of ties with Latin American allies one of his priorities. He travelled to the region in June of last year, where he visited Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba and signed a number of strategic agreements.

Venezuela and Iran enjoy particularly close political, economic, and diplomatic relations, which have been further strengthened as a result of increased attacks by Washington and the imposition of punishing sanctions regimes on both countries.

“Relations between Iran and Venezuela are not normal diplomatic ties. They are strategic,” said Raisi in 2023.

The relationship between Caracas and Tehran blossomed under the leadership of former Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, who sought to strengthen ties with other OPEC countries but fostered an especially close relationship with Iran over their shared opposition to US imperialism.

Maduro last visited Iran in 2022, where he signed a 20-year cooperation agreement together with Raisi.

“A heartfelt hug from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. You, Iran, are an example of dignity, morality and resistance. Have strength brothers and sisters!” declared Maduro on Monday.

Iranian foreign minister Amir-Abdollahian, who was also killed in the crash, visited Caracas last year and inked a deal to rehabilitate the South American nation’s largest refining complex following years of US sanctions that have crippled the industry. The Maduro government has increasingly turned to Iran for assistance to jumpstart the oil industry, especially the refining sector.

Cooperation has additionally extended to other areas, including medical research. Iran recently announced that it would send experts to Venezuela to help with medical accelerators used to treat cancer patients.



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