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28 Feb, 2023 22:24

US senator threatens Brazil with ‘crippling sanctions’

Ted Cruz was furious after Iranian warships docked in Rio de Janeiro over American objections
US senator threatens Brazil with ‘crippling sanctions’

Washington should sanction everyone having anything to do with the visit of two Iranian warships to Brazil, Senator Ted Cruz said on Tuesday, declaring the visit “a direct threat to the safety and security of Americans.”

The Iranian Navy frigate Dena and the supply ship Makran are on a mission to sail around the world. They arrived in Brazil on Sunday, intending to resupply before proceeding to the Panama Canal. The US has previously demanded Brazil refuses them permission to dock, citing unilateral American sanctions against Tehran.

“These Iranian warships are already sanctioned, and so the port in Rio de Janeiro where they docked is now at risk of crippling sanctions, as are any Brazilian companies that provided them services or accepted payments – and so are all foreign companies that entangle themselves with the port or those Brazilian companies in the future,” Cruz said in a statement.

Insisting that US anti-terrorism laws are “not optional,” the senator called on President Joe Biden to “impose relevant sanctions” and re-evaluate whether Brasilia is adequately cooperating with Washington. “If the administration does not, Congress should force them to do so.”

The Texas Republican sits on the Foreign Relations Committee and is the ranking member of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. Though his party is in the minority in the Senate, it currently controls the House of Representatives.

Cruz also claimed Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was “aligned against the US and our interests,” and added that Biden either did not convey US concerns while hosting Lula at the White House, “or the Brazilians did not care.”

Glenn Greenwald, an American journalist who lives in Brazil, responded that Cruz’s statement illustrates US hypocrisy on the world stage.

“The US officially regards all of South America as its property, and sees itself as the Supreme Ruler of the whole region,” Greenwald tweeted, adding that this is the reason Brazil and many other countries “laugh in Biden’s face” when he talks about “the US war in Ukraine” being about defending sovereignty. 

“If Ukraine has the right to host all of NATO right on the Russian border, then Brazil can host whichever ships it wants,” Greenwald added.