Tehran busts sanctions to set up shop in Venezuela
04 Aug 2020

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a branch of Iran’s army, is believed to be behind the opening of a superstore in Venezuela in the latest attempt to defy American-led sanctions.

The Caracas branch of Megasis was officially opened last week by the Iranian ambassador and the Venezuelan vice-president. The Iranian chain store sells a range of products from canned chickpeas to tractors.

The chain’s owner, Issa Rezaei, said that the store would “break the blockade imposed by the United States” on both countries by showcasing more than 2,500 Iranian products alongside local produce.

Officials in Washington condemned the growing alliance between the Islamic Republic and the regime of President Maduro, as it emerged that Megasis and associated companies had links to the Iranian military and the IRGC, designated as a terrorist organisation by President Trump last year.

An Iranian cargo ship docked in June with food for the supermarket a month after the Islamic Republic sent five tankers with gasoline to Venezuela.

The country has endured rising living costs and crippling fuel shortages under US sanctions, despite possessing the world’s largest proven oil reserves.

Mr Rezaei, who runs 700 Megasis stores in Iran, is also the deputy minister for industries. He said that he had invested $10 million in the Caracas store for mainly commercial reasons.

He added that he hoped to ship Venezuelan products such as mangoes, pineapples and wood back to Iran in a “win-win” for both countries.

By David Rose, The Times, 3 August 2020

Read more at The Times

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