Spain's Minister of
Retreat Defense, José Bono, paid a surprise visit to Venezuela's Hugo Chavez last Friday, on his way back from Colombia, due to a tecnical failure of his airplane. Chavez, who happens to be shopping for arms which he doesn't really need, other than threaten his neighbors and oppress his own people.
Bono recently cancelled the sale, agreed by the last government of Aznar, to Colombia of 46 AMX-30 tanks and 20 howitzers to Colombia. Instead, Bono announced during his visit the donation of two C-212 military transport aircraft that can be used for medevac, along with supplies for a field hospital.
So no arms sales to Colombia, which fights FARC terrorists, drug lords and other thugs, instead donating material that can be used to retreat.
Venezualan strongman Hugo Chavez refuses to see FARC as terrorists. Last week, a cross-border attack on Venezualan oil installations was dismissed at first to be FARC, according to Colombia intelligence, instead insisting the hand of right-wing President Uribe was in a presumed attempt to destabilize Venezuela.
My take is that with Chavez' offensive arms buying spree, his lack of support at home (I agree with Thomas Barnett that at some point he will declare himself President-For-Life), and his lackluster condemnation of FARC (some even say covert support), he may be in cahoots with the FARC in trying to set the stage for a small border war with Colombia, as do all dictators who need to shift focus at some stage.
Last Sunday, during his weekly radio show, he praised Spain's Socialist Prime Minister Zapatero's plan for his Alliance of Civilizations and announced he would put Venezuela's support behind it.
So briefly, we have Spain cancelling arm sales to Colombia, a cross-border FARC attack on Venezuelan oil installations, a Spanish Minister of
Retreat Defense who needs to touch down after engine problems in Venezuela, Chavez' support for Zapatero's Surrender to Jihad two days later, and finally Chavez visiting Spain on a state visit, possibly as early as November. Will they talk arms sales? Possibly, as Spain's socialists are looking for ways to keep their naval shipyards open.
It's a bridge too far to claim that Spain might be aiding Venezuela in a possible conflict with Colombia. What is emerging is that Spain's new Socialist government now not only seeks to move itself closer to the Arab World, but is also actively distancing itself from struggling democracies, instead seeking to align itself more with Socialist regimes around the world, even if they are a destabilizing factor in the region. Arms sales to Venezuela would be a very strong indicator of this new alignment.