Madrid tells Washington of anger over planes row

19th January 2006, Comments 0 comments

19 January 2006, MADRID — The Spanish government has told Washington of its anger following the row over selling military aircraft to Venezuela.

19 January 2006

MADRID — The Spanish government has told Washington of its anger following the row over selling military aircraft to Venezuela.

The Bush administration denied Spain permission to re-export U.S. technology involved in the 12 Spanish-made military aircraft which were to be sold to Venezuela.

Deputy prime minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega told EFE on Thursday that she had personally put Madrid's feelings to US ambassador Eduardo Aguirre, calling it "unfair" and "unjustified."

She said the government's view is that a Spanish company - the EADS-CASA firm contracted to build the aircraft - and Spanish workers are being made "to pay the consequences" of poor bilateral relations between Washington and the leftist government in Caracas.

Even so, she said that now that Spanish feelings had been made clear, the US decision will be respected and the matter was over.

She said the issue should not affect other relations between Madrid and Washington, which she described as "very good".

Fernandez de la Vega reiterated that the contract to sell the aircraft to the government of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, a harsh critic of the United States, will be fulfilled, and that EADS-CASA is looking for a substitute supplier of similar technology to replace the U.S.-made parts.

The EUR 1.7 billion contract for the sale of 12 EADS-CASA military transport and marine surveillance planes and eight military patrol boats built by state-owned shipbuilder Navantia was signed in November.

Chavez, a former army colonel first elected to the Venezuelan presidency in late 1998, misses no opportunity to attack US "imperialism."

He also has forged close ties with the Cuban communist regime, whose leader Fidel Castro he takes as a mentor.

In justifying the Bush administration's decision to deny the license, the US Embassy in Spain said that Chavez "has systematically undermined democratic institutions, pressured and harassed independent media and the political opposition and grown progressively more autocratic and anti-democratic".

It added that "in a region in need of political stability, the Venezuelan government's actions and frequent statements contribute to regional instability".

The proposed sale had the potential to further complicate the political situation in South America, the Embassy said.

EADS-CASA is the Spanish unit of European aeronautics giant EADS, which was created in 2000 from the three-way merger of France's Aerospatiale Matra, Germany's DaimlerChrysler Aerospace and Spain's Construcciones Aeronauticas (CASA).

Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's conservative predecessor had been one of the Bush administration's staunchest allies in Western Europe.

But weeks after taking office in April 2004, Zapatero pulled Spanish troops out of Iraq, a move resented by Washington.

Chavez said last Friday that the U.S. refusal to grant Spain a re-export license was part of "an imperialist assault".

"This is evidence of the horrific imperialism that Washington wants to impose on the world. I denounce once again the U.S. imperialist assault against the Venezuelan people and its government," he added.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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