Protests over possible Iran-U.S. war planned here

File photo by Andy Carvin Carlos Arredondo at a Jan. 27, 2007 Iraq war protest in Washington D.C.

International relations between the United States and Iran have become so tense that expats here will be demonstrating against a possible war. That will be Saturday in San José.

One of those doing so will be Carlos Arredondo, a Costa Rican who is a naturalized U.S. citizen. He made headlines in the United States in 2004 when he torched the van that Marines used to bring him the news of his son’s death in action in Iraq. Another son, Brian Luis, committed suicide in 2011, and Arredondo blames that act on depression brought about by the death of the first son, Alexander.

Carlos and Mélida Arredondo will be joined by Jim Scarborough, who was identified in a news release as a member of Veterans for Peace. He served in Vietnam. The Arrendondos are members of Military Families Speak Out, the release said.

The demonstration is to be held on the pedestrian mall in downtown San José west of the Plaza de la Cultura. The action here is in unison with other demonstrations in the United States against a new war.

Thursday James Clapper, the director of U.S. national intelligence told the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs that senior Iranian officials are “now more willing to conduct an attack in the United States.” He said Iran is trying to penetrate and engage in the Western Hemisphere.

Iran is developing or has developed a nuclear weapon and makes no secret of the desire of officials there to use it on nearby Israel. Some reports this week said that Iran also is developing a medium range missile that could hit New York and major European cities.

Members of the U.S. congressional panel also expressed concern Thursday that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s ties to several Latin American leaders could pose a threat to U.S. national security.

Some U.S. lawmakers and military leaders have said they feel Ahmadinejad is reckless enough to engage Israel and the United States. His government already has threatened to use force against U.S. warships operating in the Persian Gulf.

The chairwoman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, said some people might question whether the Iranian-Latin American connection is a threat, but she said there is cause for concern.

“Iran’s Ahmadinejad recently returned from his ‘Tour of Tyrants’ trip to visit Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba and Ecuador. Media reports have
indicated an increased presence of Iran’s Quds Force in these countries and offices of Iran’s intelligence services surfacing throughout the region,” said Rep. Ros-Lehtinen. “The fact that the military arm of a state-sponsor of terrorism has its operatives within multiple countries in our hemisphere is certainly cause for alarm and merits congressional focus.”

Obama administration officials say the United States is keeping a close watch on Ahmadinejad’s ties to Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. During Ahmadinejad’s recent visit to Venezuela, he and Chávez praised each other and joked about concerns in the West about Iran’s relations with Latin America.

The United States and Europe have been tightening sanctions on Iran in recent months because of Iran’s nuclear program. Iran says its program is for peaceful purposes. Also on Thursday, the U.S. Senate Banking Committee approved tough new sanctions on Iran, which now will have to go to the full Senate floor.

Arredondo, who lives in Barrio México, also is known as El Gringo when he joins other informal bull fighters in the ring at Zapote. He was living in Hollywood, Florida, when the Marine casualty assistance team brought word of his son’s death in An Najaf, Iraq. The 20-year-old Marine was on his second tour of duty in that country and died from gunfire.

Arredondo described the experience in the left-leaning magazine The Nation. He became highly agitated at the news and took a can of gasoline and a propane torch into the Marine van. But he said that the ignition was accidental. He was burned but blown clear by the subsequent explosion. He said he attended his son’s wake on a stretcher due to the serious burns.

He spent a year recovering and then became an anti-war activist. U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy helped him obtain his citizenship in 2006.

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