Yesterday Spain’s Defence Minister revealed in Congress that between 2000 and 2003, during Aznar’s second presidential term, the Popular Party government authorised sales of arms to Venezuela, including guns, grenades and anti-riot gear.
Bono also revealed that in December 1999, Aznar’s government authorised the sale to Venezuela of a military patrol boat, but that in January 2000 Venezuela’s president Luis Chavez was forced to withdraw from the draft agreement, which had been signed by both parties, because the floodings and mudslides in Venezuela at the end of 1999 forced his government to cut down on military spending and spend more public funds on repairing damage caused by the natural disaster.
José Bono offered this information in response to the fierce criticism directed at the Socialist government by members of the Popular Party, and by Aznar himself, of the recent offer of Zapatero’s government to sell military patrol boats and planes to Venezuela.
The US Government criticised the same deal. However, according to Bono, the patrol boat included in the most recent agreement is exactly the same kind as the one included in the sale attempted by the PP government in 1999
The leader of the opposition party, Mariano Rajoy, said in recent declarations that no government of which he formed part would sell arms to Venezuela. Rajoy was Minister of Public Administration and then Education during the first PP government, and Interior Minister and Government Spokesman during the second. He was also Vice-President.
During his appearance before congress yesterday, Defence Minister José Bono also revealed that between 2001 and 2003, during Aznar’s presidency, the Spanish government authorised the sale of arms to the following countries (among others): Morrocco, Pakistan, Angola, Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia Saudí, Cuba and Tunisia.
Bono asked yesterday whether, given the recent concern expressed by the Popular Party about human rights in Venezuela, Aznar’s government had been as concerned about the same issues at the time of the above arms sales.