Venezuela has raised the stakes in South America, buying Russian tanks and missiles with money borrowed from Moscow.
President Hugo Chavez announced the 1,4 billion euro deal on his weekly television show. He said he borrowed the money so Venezuela would not have to cut spending on social programmes. “We have to thank the Russian government for approving the loan to finance this arms deal,” said Chavez.” We did it this way so we can continue to give priority to education and health care. That makes the burying of weapons to defend the country a viable option.” The money will go on 92 tanks and an advanced missile system capable of shooting down planes and cruise missiles. Chavez also asked for help in developing nuclear energy. Venezuela does have one ancient, mothballed reactor, but experts say it will be many years before the programme comes on stream.