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Madrid suspends sales of anti-riot gear to Venezuela as precautionary measure

Contracts were cancelled in early March but made public on Friday Officials believe equipment could be used against anti-government protestors

Anti-riot police battle with protestors in Caracas on Tuesday.
Anti-riot police battle with protestors in Caracas on Tuesday.F. PARRA (AFP)

The Spanish government announced on Friday that it has temporarily suspended the sale and distribution of anti-riot gear to the government of Venezuela as a precautionary measure, as the government of President Nicolás Maduro continues to crack down on ongoing nationwide protests.

The decision was made on March 6 by the Foreign Ministry’s JIMDDU regulatory agency, which deals with defense exports, but wasn’t made public until today.

According to diplomatic sources, it was a unilateral decision made by Spanish officials who believed that the equipment could be used against anti-government protestors.

The nationwide riots and unrest that have swept Venezuela since February 12 have left at least 39 people dead, more than 600 injured and thousands of people detained.

Venezuela is one of the Spain’s biggest buyers of anti-riot gear. In 2012, the Caracas government bought some €449,624 in equipment from Spanish companies. During the last quarter of 2013 – the last year for which statistics have been made available – Venezuela purchased €16,000 in non-lethal pyrotechnic material.

Since the protest began, some 30 Spanish nationals have been detained across the country, diplomatic sources said.

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