One of the constant images of the current wave of protests has been the overwhelming and excessive use of tear gas by the National Guard and other security forces against demostrators. You might ask where all those cannisters come from: Russia? After all we have spent a lot of money buying them military stuff. Maybe… China? Or even in an ironic twist of fate, they come from the good ol’ U.S. of A?
Nope. The answer is that most of the tear gas recently used is coming from our next-door neighbor, Brazil.
This extended report from Ultimas Noticias’ Lisseth Boon & Cristina González (including the video above) indicates that the Venezuelan government bought 143 tons of tear gas to Brazilian company Condor Tecnologias Não-Letais between 2008 and 2011, at a cost of $6,5 million. The interesting thing that none of this appereared in the budgets of either the Defense Ministry or the Interior Ministry. (There was no public tender, but that almost goes without saying.)
The report also shows inconsistencies between the Venezuelan and Brazilian data regarding the acquisition of riot control materials: Venezuelan statistics said that just 2,1 million dollars were spent between 2002 and 2008, but its Brazilian counterpart puts the final cost at 9,9 million. A difference of 7,8 million. This is either the first-ever case of underinvoicing in the CADIVI era, or because part of the bill was paid by the secret off-budget slushfund known as FONDEN. You might have read about it before.