Chavez Says He Will Buy from China if Brazil Won’t Sell Warplanes

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said the U.S. is blocking his efforts to acquire Brazilian military training aircraft as part of an ongoing "war" between the two countries.

Brazil needs U.S. approval to sell the aircraft as they utilize U.S. technology, Chavez, 51, said in a televised address to military personnel. The Tucano prop planes are built by Brazil’s Empresa Brasileira de Aeronáutica SA, the world’s fourth-largest aircraft maker.

"The contract is ready but we can’t sign it," Chavez said. Chavez said his country is giving Brazil more time to resolve the problem but will turn to other suppliers, including China and Russia, if a solution isn’t forthcoming.

Chavez has repeatedly accused the U.S. of seeking to scuttle Venezuelan arms purchases, including military transport planes from Spain.

Venezuela’s military purchases have been questioned by the U.S., which has said the buildup poses a threat to stability in the Western Hemisphere. Since March, Venezuela has purchased $240 million in Russian arms, including helicopters and rifles.

"I’ve already talked to the president of Brazil," Chavez said. "The people from Embraer came here. They need permission from the U.S., imagine that. We’ll see what happens with Brazil."

An Embraer spokeswoman declined comment. U.S. Embassy spokesman Brian Penn declined immediate comment.

The U.S. said in November that it would "review" technology licensing issues related to the sale of 12 Spanish transportation aircraft to Venezuela.

The $4 million Tucano is a turboprop training and light combat aircraft developed by São José dos Campos, Brazil-based Embraer to take off and land in rough terrains.

The aircraft has been sold to 15 countries including the U.K. and France, and Brazil uses a modified version to patrol the Amazon, according to Embraer’s Web site. The Super Tucanos employ fourth- generation avionics and armaments systems, Embraer said on its Web site, without giving details.

U.S. efforts to block the sale are part of a "war" being waged against Venezuela, the world’s fifth-largest oil exporter, Chavez said.

"We are already at war, political war, media war," said Chavez, who has repeatedly accused the U.S. of seeking his overthrow.

Mercopress – www.mercopress.com

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