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Military sales to Venezuela produced a bitter ministerial rift in Madrid · ELPAÍS.com in English
Dozens of confidential documents released by WikiLeaks illustrate how the United States exerted pressure on the Zapatero government to keep Spain from selling military equipment to Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez. In the end, Spain sold the boats to Caracas but Washington blocked the sale of the planes by claiming rights to the air technology.

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But it was the military sales agreement, signed by Bono in 2005 during a visit to Caracas, that pushed Washington over the edge. In February that year, the defense minister called the US Embassy to explain that Chávez had promised the patrol boats would only be used to guard Venezuela's Caribbean coast and not for offensive purposes. "The principal reason Spain was making the sale to Venezuela - reportedly worth over 600 million euros($780 million) - was to give a shot in the arm to ailing state-owned ship building firm Izar. The sale would be 'very significant for Izar,' said Bono, but would not tip the military balance in the region," wrote Chargé d'Affaires Robert Manzanares on February 24, 2005.

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On April 20, 2005, Francisco Pardo, then-secretary of state for defense, met with Manzanares at the Embassy to demonstrate to diplomats that Spain wasn't selling "corvettes," as the opposition Popular Party was charging, but instead coastal patrol ships. Pardo then showed the chargé a copy of the agreement signed between Spain and Venezuela. "I do not have to show you this classified document [...] but I want us both to be absolutely clear on what we are and are not selling," Pardo said according to cable dated two days after the meeting.

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"We are the eighth-largest power in the world but the [US government] treats us like a fifth-rate power," [[Foreign Minister]] Moratinos told the ambassador. "We want to work with you, but need a minimal political signal that you want to work with us. We need to demonstrate that the bilateral relations are on track and are not just about what we are doing in Venezuela and Cuba."



Of all the ways of organizing banking, the worst is the one we have today — Mervyn King, 25 October 2010
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 13th, 2010 at 06:55:29 AM EST

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