For years, brutal regimes have popped up in the Caribbean, Central and South America, flourishing throughout the hemisphere like flowers whose pollen is carried from place to place, scattered by the wind.

America is battling a highly-visible enemy two thousand miles away and has taken its eyes off of the threat right in our backyard.  Please do not misunderstand me — international terrorism is a scourge that must be dealt with — but in doing so, we cannot take our eye off the ball.  In the jungles of the Caribbean, Central and South America a storm is brewing — a storm that most people think faded away long ago.  This storm is communism.

When people think of communism in the Western Hemisphere they think of the big players in the news: Cuba and Venezuela. Although these two are very important to the spread of this cancer, the problem is much more widespread.  It is also important to note that these two countries have the power to sweep most of the region into communism within the next decade or two.  The communist threat in the region also has far reaching implications into the world of the War on Terror.

Part of safeguarding our nation is protecting our interests within our hemisphere from terrorism.  Terrorist groups have learned that the land bridge that is Central America is the best route into the United States.  They now have safe havens within the Caribbean and South America from which they can launch operatives.  Iran, who has long been a state sponsor of terrorism, now has its largest embassy located in Venezuela. Iranian President Ahmadinejad has visited Venezuela several times, and has visited the radical regimes of Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua.

The Iranian leader has also offered them major advances in infrastructure and industry.  It is no secret that our southern border remains largely unprotected, with Iran sending terror agents to penetrate our borders as war with Iran grows increasingly likely. Moreover, several illegal aliens from radical Middle Eastern countries have entered the United States through our southern border. There are also terrorist cells based inside Mexico.

According to Jihadwatch.com, a former U.S. intelligence agent was quoted describing Hezbollah’s bases within Mexico like this: “Their operators are far more skilled … they are the equals of Russians, Chinese or Cubans,” he said. “I consider Hezbollah much more dangerous in that sense because of strategic thinking; they think more long-term.”

We are poised to fight the war on terror here in America if we do not begin to face the threat that is in our own hemisphere.  Aside from terrorists who are flocking to Central and South America, communism sweeping the region is a problem in itself.  Communist regimes think nothing of mistreating and murdering their own people and using drug trade as a means of making money.  People who live under these conditions are abused and mistreated every day much on the same level as those who lived under Saddam, the Taliban and those currently living under Assad and Ahmadinejad.  I personally know people who have fled the terrors of communist regimes in South America; the stories I have heard are frightening to say the least.  That is why I am beginning a series of articles on the threat in our own backyard and the implications it has for American safety and foreign policy throughout the world.  You can read them all right here on TheCollegeConservative.

Mark Mayberry | University of Tennessee at Chattanooga | Chattanooga, Tennessee | @MarkMayberry86