At a summit in Venezuela on Mar. 29, President Hugo Chávez won new backing from Spain and Brazil. Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, inked a deal to sell $1.7 billion in military patrol ships and transport planes to Caracas. And Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who recently agreed to sell Chávez 50 light combat aircraft, voiced his strong support for the former Army paratrooper. The moves may irritate the U.S., which is worried that Chávez' arms buildup could destabilize the region. The Bush Administration has criticized Russia's recent sale of 100,000 AK-47 rifles to Venezuela.

Edited by Rose Brady

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