Thursday, December 01, 2005

Venezuela Clinches Spain Defense Deal

By: Andy Webb-Vidal in Caracas
November 29 2005
The Financial Times

Venezuela and Spain signed a deal on November 28, 2005 to buy twelve transport aircrafts and eight coastal patrol ships to support maritime defense. The United States was opposed to this deal because this increase in the defense equipment of Venezuela will increase Venezuela’s military power and political influence in the region.

Both the governments of Venezuela and Spain maintain that the contract is for defense reasons only. Chavez says that the vessels and the aircraft will be used to combat the drug trade, which is largely influenced by Colombia, which borders Venezuela and is the largest producer of cocaine in the world.

The united States is also concerned that Venezuela is purchasing 100,000 assault riffles from Russia. While the U.S. and Spain are still on fairly good terms, Spanish defense minister, Jose Bono, stated, “What country with a business opportunity would give it away to another country?”

1) Will this contract for military supplies between Spain and Venezuela further hurt the relationship between the U.S. and Spain (which was severely affect by Spain’s removal of peace-keeping troops from Iraq in April 2004)?
2) How would this increase in military supplies affect Venezuela’s political influence in the region?

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