Saturday, January 14, 2006

"Sing a song for Chavez..." or at least buy Citgo gas

Looks like it's beginning to be a Latino bloc against Bush

Spain said on Friday it would go ahead with the sale of military aircraft to Venezuela in spite of a US ban on the export of US technology to the country.

Defence analysts said Washington's refusal to grant a re-export licence for the US components of the Spanish aircraft might scupper Spain's largest-ever defence contract: a $2bn deal to supply 12 transport and maritime surveillance aircraft and eight patrol boats to the government of Hugo Chávez.

Spanish state radio quoted Defence Ministry sources as saying the aircraft sale would go ahead and that EADS-Casa, the European defence consortium, was in contact with French companies to provide substitute technology, although this could increase the price.

EADS-Casa on Friday declined to comment on whether alternative technologies were available. Navantia, the Spanish state-owned shipyard, said the sale of its patrol boats would not be affected by the US ban...

"Despite being democratically elected, the government of Hugo Chávez has systematically undermined democratic institutions, pressured and harassed independent media and the political opposition, and grown progressively more autocratic and anti-democratic," the US government said.

Now that's the pot calling the kettle black...and no doubt readers of the UK Financial Times see the irony...

...Madrid's deliberate courting of leftwing and populist regimes in Latin America has not endeared José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero's government to Washington. The contract with Venezuela was signed in November in spite of strong US opposition. It soured relations that have never fully recovered from Mr Zapatero's decision to pull Spanish troops out of Iraq in 2004.

Venezuela, the world's fifth biggest oil exporter, has gone on a military spending spree that has stirred concern in Washington.

Mr Chávez complained this week that Washington was also trying to scupper a contract for Brazil to sell Venezuela at least a dozen Super-Tucano light attack aircraft, a deal agreed with President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva last year.

Celso Amorim, Brazil's foreign minister, acknowledged that there were "signs" that the US was seeking to veto the Brazilian contract.

I can understand what Chavez wants to defend against. And Brazil.

And it's stuff like that which makes you think the Bush folks simply fears or loathes or is unable to face everyone - even their funding sources and blogging supporters- except for a few select folks.

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