Monday, 26 December 2011

Venezuela bleeding and the military caste buying more weapons

I stumbled upon a new article in the Russian press about the weapons industry in this year. A Russian magazine in that sector, ЦАМТО, produced some interesting statistics on the business of killing tools.

It lists the nations that spent the most in weapon imports in 2011. The top ten arms importers were the following:

  1. India
  2. United Arab Emirates
  3. Australia
  4. Saudi Arabia
  5. South Korea
  6. Iraq
  7. USA (which is also the main exporter)
  8. Venezuela
  9. Turkey and
  10. Pakistan

    Top weapons' importers

    Above you can see a chart showing the amounts in million dollars. Venezuela, for instance, is sending $2,33 billion abroad in weapons. As the Russian news agency RIA says, Venezuela actually got into more than 4 billion dollars debt with Russia this year for weapons, so I assume part of the money will be technically spent next year.

    Some Chávez apologists try to justify this all saying military expenses get a bigger share of the national budget in the US than in Venezuela. I am not sure about that anymore. Most of the imports for this year are in the form of a debt to Russia that will probably be paid, as before, by means of the FONDEN, the Venezuelan Fund for Development or Chávez's Personal Piggy Bank, redirected through different obscure mechanisms. The budget for defence in Venezuela is thus just a part of what the government spends for the military caste and its amigos. 49,9% of shares in Moznabank, a bank to be used in buying weapons, was paid with money from FONDEN, as the Central Bank of the Russian Federation stated.

    Next year Venezuela's "explicit" defence budget is going to epresent 6.5% of the national budget, much more than this year. Some high ranking Chávez officials are very happy...and so is former KGB and Putin's pal Igor Sechin, who has seen to it a lot of the defence deals between Venezuela and Russia become a reality.

    The money for weapons is sent completely to other countries and does not generate investment in other technologies (not like the DARPA programme in the USA or similar programmes in Europe or China, Israel or Brazil).

    Venezuela should be spending that money in biologists and physicians, in farmers and police agents, in electronic engineers and in setting up research centres, in building real houses and real roads. It is instead spending it in the military structures that claim to be "revolutionary" and are just there to guarantee that Chávez clan remains in power.

    People anywhere have the right to criticise the US government for all its spending in defence -and I am one of those who do that, but we, Venezuelans, should be more than mad at our government, which is getting the country further away from sustainable development. 

    Igor Sechin, former KGB and now key man in the weapons business with Venezuela

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