May 15, 2006:
The Venezuelan government is negotiating a weapons procurement contract with Iran that will run for five years and involve about $100 million in purchases a year. Given Venezuela's already extensive weapons procurement agreements with Russia, Spain, and other countries, it seems unlikely that either the country's armed forces nor the "Bolivarian Militia" will be able to absorb the enormous amount of equipment effectively, particularly given the lack of standardization. President Hugo Chavez seems more intent on making allies with as many nations, that don't get along with the United States, as possible. This kind of diplomatic theater is expensive, as Chavez likes to use his oil money to get attention and buy friends. But for many impoverished Venezuelans, who form the base of Chavez's support, these spendthrift theatrics are increasingly unpopular.