Acting Assistant Secretary for US Department of State’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs Michael Kozak told journalists in a call that the opening of the market shows alliance between the two states, AP reported on Friday.
“I would be surely surprised if Venezuela is able to obtain much benefit from Iran,” said Kozak in his response to a reporter's question about the mall. “Iran is willing to play around, is willing to sell stuff to Venezuela when Venezuela really does not have the money to be buying very much.”
Iran’s Ambassador to Venezuela Hojjatollah Soltani put it differently, saying, “Despite the sanctions, despite the threats, we are two sister nations,” Bloomberg wrote.
An Iranian cargo ship docked in Venezuela in June carrying goods for the new market in Caracas, weeks after the Islamic Republic had already sent five tankers loaded with gasoline to the fuel-starved nation.
The recent deliveries signal a newly blossoming relationship between the two nations in defiance of stiff financial sanctions by the administration of US President Donald Trump against each of them.
The new Megasis shopping center, in the east of Caracas, was launched Wednesday amid a tightening of the coronavirus quarantine. The inauguration was a private event attended only by Venezuelan government officials, Iranian diplomatic staff and businessmen.
Megasis, as it is called, fills a massive warehouse in eastern Caracas, a cross between Home Depot and Costco, with tires, tractors and edibles.
On Tuesday, Issa Rezaei, the Iranian owner of the mall said on Twitter that “our goal is commercial.” He also said he is buying Venezuelan products like mangos, pineapples and wood to take to Iran.
The store has a bit of everything – clothes, SUV tires, diapers, canned food, cleaning products and dog food.
“There are a lot of weird things, but I don’t care, as long as the prices are good,” said Juan Escalona, a 45-year-old construction worker, while buying a package of Iranian black beans.
Toward the back of the store, where giant Iranian blankets are hung, there is also a large poster with the flags of Iran and Venezuela together.
The two countries began close cooperation two decades ago after the election of former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez with Iranian companies building apartments and vehicles in the Latin American country.