This is a story on the NYT, so I'll just quote a few fun parts...
BOGOTÁ, Colombia, Feb. 14 - President Hugo Chávez's government is moving toward purchasing combat planes from Brazil, the latest step in what the Bush administration has cast as a worrisome arms buildup by the left-leaning government in an already tumultuous region.
The Bush administration, which has been in an increasingly tense war of words since tacitly supporting a brief coup against Mr. Chávez in 2002, has warned that the arms purchases could benefit "irregular groups," meaning Marxist rebels in neighboring Colombia.
This next bit is kinda left field, any ideas where it's coming from?Mr. Chávez has reacted angrily to the criticism, saying that Venezuela has the right to purchase arms from any suitable seller and that the United States lacks the moral heft to question the arms sales. "They sold weapons to Saddam Hussein, and they armed Al Qaeda, but the serpent turned against them," Mr. Chávez said.
And finally:Mr. Chávez, recently warning of the possibility of an American invasion, has responded by announcing plans to expand so-called popular defense units, a sort of citizen militia, as well as the country's military reserves.
So there we have it, warming relations between South American countries worries the Bush administration. Combined with the beginnings of a South American trade area, could be that in another two decades they will be a power to be reckoned with, as the US gets slowly left behind pursuing it's isolationist militarism (an interesting oxymoron in our current context). I don't consider the dire warnings about dumping weapons into a flashpoint situation to be valid, as Mr. Chavez pointed out above."There is a case to be made that the Venezuelan military needed to be upgraded, but the timing of this is what concerns the Colombians and raises questions about his commitment to his social agenda," said Miguel Díaz, a senior analyst who tracks Venezuela at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.