HispanTV is the IRIB’s Tehran-based Spanish language network, which airs throughout Latin America and Spain. The network serves as an arm of Iran’s public diplomacy outreach to Latin America, a region in which Iran has invested significant political capital. According to Iranian officials, the goal of HispanTV is to “broaden the Iranian regime's ''ideological legitimacy'' among friendly governments in the region – and to diminish the influence of ''dominance seekers,'' a thinly-veiled reference to the United States.”
HispanTV’s December 2011 debut marked the latest chapter in Iran’s efforts dating back to the 1980s to establish strong commercial, political, and strategic links to Latin America. Buttressed by a shared antipathy toward the U.S., Iran has made common cause with leftist, populist Latin American regimes in Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, etc., enabling the Islamic Republic to anchor a Hezbollah and IRGC presence in the Western hemisphere.
HispanTV’s debut occurred around the imposition of the U.S. and EU’s toughest sanctions to date against Iran for its illicit nuclear program. Iran’s pursuit of economic and strategic ties with Latin America was instrumental to its ability to withstand the international sanctions regime. The Venezuela/Cuba-led axis (known as the Bolivarian Alliance for the People of Our Americas, or ALBA) helped Iran “skirt international sanctions and evade financial authorities by launching front companies, laundering money and injecting cash into the financial systems of ALBA countries for lucrative, commercial, and criminal enterprises. Additionally, Hezbollah utilized the tri-border area of Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil as a staging ground for money laundering and drug trafficking operations, netting the Iranian proxy millions of dollars.
HispanTV has contributed to Iran’s “resounding success in promoting an anti-US and anti-Israel message in Latin America.” The network provides Iran a mass media platform to conduct “proselytization activities designed to promote its particular brand of political Islam, and ideological coalition-building intended to make the region more inhospitable to the United States than it is currently.”