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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Venezuela: Top Latin American Arms Buyer of the decade

Well-covered in today's news: Some Alaskans prefer cold to Chávez's oil
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - In Alaska's native villages, the punishing winter cold is already coming through the walls of the lightly insulated plywood homes, many villagers are desperately poor, and heating-oil prices are among the nation's highest.

And yet a few villages are refusing free heating oil from Venezuela, on the patriotic principle that no foreigner has the right to call their president "the devil."
Gateway Pundit links to how to help

Not as well covered, this story from El Herald Venezuela en vías de ser el mayor comprador de armas de la década (Venezuela Poised to Take Over as Top Latin American Arms Buyer) (also at Tal Cual Digital, in Spanish)

The information comes from this Forecast International report from last year: Venezuela Poised to Take Over as Top Latin American Arms Buyer
Over the past year Venezuela has adopted a force structure revitalization program that could be worth as much as $30.7 billion through 2012. If fulfilled, this would make the country the leading arms buyer in the region through the rest of the decade.

The revitalization program is being stoked by strong prices for the country’s oil exports, which means that Venezuela can finally address pent-up needs to overhaul an aging force structure. However, according to Forecast International Latin America analyst Tom Baranauskas, "The viability of the revitalization program is very much dependent on oil prices remaining strong, with ambitious government plans to increase social spending also likely to be vying for the windfall oil income."

While details are sketchy, the Venezuelan Navy itself is planning to spend some VEB2.141 trillion ($998.1 million) on a fleet and equipment revitalization program that will stretch from 2006 to 2010. The planned procurements include 138 naval vessels of all types, including larger patrol ships, smaller coastal and riverine patrol boats, three submarines, and various support ships.

The Air Force has a requirement for as many as 50 fighters, with Russian Su-27s or Chinese J-10s reportedly being considered, and for nearly as many Super Tucano turboprop attack/trainer aircraft. The Army needs at least 30 transport and gunship helicopters, and is in talks to buy light armored vehicles, artillery, and various electronics systems. An air defense upgrade program worth at least $150 million has been launched with the purchase of Chinese JYL-1 3-D radars.
Bear in mind that the report was from last year and didn't consider this year's shopping trip:
The $5bn investment promised by China outweighs all the money Mr Chavez spent on arms and in granting cut-price oil deals while on his world tour, Mr Birns says, making China the "high-water mark" of his travels.

Mr Chavez also declared he had secured Beijing's backing for his UN Security Council seat bid.
On that trip, Hugo decided at the last minute not to visit North Korea.

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