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Spain suspends sale of riot gear to Venezuela in light of turmoil, officials say

By Al Goodman, CNN
April 4, 2014 -- Updated 1051 GMT (1851 HKT)
National Guard soldiers in riot gear after the installation of President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas on March 19, 2013.
National Guard soldiers in riot gear after the installation of President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas on March 19, 2013.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 30 have died in protests against the government of Venezuela
  • Among those killed in the protests was a dual Spanish-Venezuelan citizen
  • Official: It's not the first time Spain has suspended riot control gear to the country

Madrid, Spain (CNN) -- Spain has suspended the sale of police riot-control equipment to Venezuela due to instability there, two Spanish government officials said Friday.

Weeks of protests against the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro have left more than 30 people dead, more than 500 injured and more than 2,000 people detained, Amnesty International said in a report released this week.

Spain's provisional suspension of the riot-control gear sales was quietly agreed to last month by a government commission that includes the ministries of foreign affairs, defense, interior and commerce, said the officials, who declined to be named because they are not authorized to publicly speak about the decision.

The suspension was first reported by Spain's El Pais newspaper.

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Spain authorized the sale of $2.6 million euros ($3.5 million) in riot-control equipment to Venezuela last year, the Economy ministry reported.

Spain's inter-ministerial government commission routinely reviews sales of military weapons and other sensitive material like police riot-control equipment, and takes into consideration "the internal stability of the nation destined" to receive the equipment, said one of the government officials.

The other official said it's not the first time Spain has suspended the sale of riot control gear to Venezuela. It was also done when long-serving Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez -- Maduro's predecessor -- was in power.

Among those killed in the protests was a dual Spanish-Venezuelan citizen, Wilder Carballo Amayo, who died last February from a gunshot wound to the head, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said.

Spain, like many other nations and international agencies, has urged the Venezuelan government and opposition forces to seek a solution through dialogue.

The Venezuelan Embassy in Madrid answered a phone call from CNN but declined to comment immediately on the suspension of sales of crowd control equipment.

Amnesty International's president in Spain, Esteban Beltran, told reporters this week, "In our opinion, if human rights are not placed at the top of the political agenda in Venezuela, then Venezuela risks entering a spiral of violence that would lead to even more human rights abuses and violations."

READ: Protests rage in Venezuela, one month on

READ: Venezuelan President Maduro to CNN: U.S. would respond the way I did

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