Venezuela slams Spain over police gear ban

Venezuela slams Spain over police gear ban
Madrid has suspended exports of anti-riot and police gear to its former colony of Venezuela. Carlos Becerra/Juan Barreto/AFP
The government of Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, after more than two months of street protests, slammed Spain on Sunday for claiming it was not seeking dialogue with political foes.

Spain's Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo confirmed Saturday that Madrid has suspended exports of anti-riot and police gear to its former colony.

He said Spanish officials were in contact with Caracas "to try to re-establish a climate of reconciliation which has broken down."

He also said Spain was paying close attention to the fate of some 200,000 Spaniards in Venezuela.

Thirty-nine people have died in clashes between security forces and protesters angered by soaring crime, high inflation and shortages. Another 608 were wounded and 192 are going through the court process.

The conservative Spanish government's swipe at Venezuela's heavily state-led leftist government was not exactly welcomed.

Caracas "categorically rejects the unfortunate remarks" by Garcia-Margallo, "whose government has no moral authority to hand out advice on violence or dialogue when the world has seen how Spain's people have risen up to protest policies both exclusionary and in violation of human rights," a government statement said.

Venezuela said recession-hit Spain should "seek to promote dialogue with its different social groups who are seeking justice in Spain" as it says Maduro has done.

Caracas maintains it has used appropriate levels of force to protect civil institutions and its elected government.

Meanwhile, foreign ministers from the UNASUR grouping of South American nations were arriving in Caracas in a bid to foster dialogue with political foes who have so far declined Maduro's offer to sit down for talks.

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