Venezuelan President Hugo Chvez is planning to visit Russia, Belarus, and Iran later next week. Russia-Venezuela cooperation follows the path of the Russia-Iran relationship, boosting an anti-American, authoritarian, and anti-status quo actor, only this time in the Latin America. Chavez also allows Iran to expand its influence in Latin America. To compete, Brazil is reaching out to the Islamic Republic. Both Brazil and Venezuela, together with Turkey, have already expressed their support to Iran by opposing the U.N. Security Councils anti-Iranian sanctions, which, ironically, Russia supported.

Moscow and Caracas have a booming military cooperation, including Russian arms sales to Venezuela. So far, Caracas has purchased $4 billion in arms, including fighter jets, Mi-17 helicopters, 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles, and a Kalashnikov factoryall in the last five years. And Venezuela is scheduled to buy $5 billion more in Russian weaponry.

When Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin met with Chavez in April of this year, the two leaders discussed a satellite launch site, to begin Venezuela's space program, a joint venture on oil exploration in eastern Venezuela, and the construction of a nuclear power plant.

Some observers nastily called the alliance of Venezuela, Iran and Russia VIRUS. The question is, whether the VIRUS has already spread, or is likely to spread, to Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, North Korea, and possibly China.

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