The Guardian 7 December, 2005

Venezuela and Spain
sign military equipment contract

CARACAS: Various contracts through which Spain is to supply Venezuela with military vessels and aircraft were signed last month in this capital in a ceremony attended by President Hugo Chávez and José Bono, Spanish Minister of Defence.

During the signing, the Minister emphasised that this sale of military equipment to the South American country is in line with Spain’s national obligations and interests.

The contracts were signed between the two nations, via which two Spanish companies are to build eight vessels and 12 airplanes for Venezuela are thus settled, despite opposition from the US Government.

Speaking during the signing ceremony, Bono made it clear that the equipment is for vigilance and protection of the coasts of this country and emergency use in the case of disasters.

Without mentioning the overt US opposition to the operation, the Spanish Minister stated: "I am not prepared to recognise that there are selected peoples, there is no nation selected over others that are rejected."

"There is only one rule worthy of being obeyed and that is the rule of law… and we must look after that rule", he stressed.

He highlighted the benefit that the contract signed with Venezuela will have for the companies involved, their workers, and the cities where the factories responsible for constructing the equipment are located.

He recalled that the operation was announced in March on the occasion of a visit to Caracas by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, President of the Spanish government.

"The vessels and planes contracted will have no components of an offensive nature or weapons of attack, they are only for self-defence and self-protection", he explained.

On his presence at the ceremony, Bono said that it was in line with a decision by the Council of Ministers of Spain, "a government that wants to be one of a sovereign and autonomous country."

All the equipment should be dispatched to Venezuela within the next 20 months.


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