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Brazil Suspends Sales of Tear Gas to Venezuela


The Brazilian government said it has suspended tear gas sales to Venezuela in response to its neighbor’s deadly repression of protests.

The Brazilian government said it has suspended tear gas sales to Venezuela in response to its neighbor’s deadly repression of protests.

The decision comes after Venezuelan opposition last week published documents showing Rio de Janeiro-based security company Condor Tecnologias Não-Letais agreed to sell 78,000 gas canisters to the Venezuelan military despite the deaths of dozens of protesters.

“There’s a ban on tear gas to Venezuela” because of the country’s political crisis, said a Brazilian government official on Saturday, who asked not to be identified because he’s not authorized to speak to the press.

Brazil’s Defense Ministry said Saturday that Condor’s gas “won’t be shipped,” without providing further details. The company, a longtime Venezuelan military supplier, didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment.

The ban is the latest sign of international isolation of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, who’s battling an economic collapse, falling popularity and defections from the ruling party as protests against his rule approach 80th day.

To quell the unrest, Mr. Maduro has called for a special assembly with powers to rewrite the constitution. Polls show 85% of Venezuelans reject his proposal, with two thirds of the voters demanding general elections.

More than 70 Venezuelans, mostly protesters, have died so far. At least one has been killed by a tear-gas canister fired at point-blank range by a police officer, according to the country’s Attorney General.

“We are very happy with Brazil’s solidarity,” Venezuela’s opposition lawmaker Jorge Millán, who had publicized the Condor deal, said by telephone Sunday. “We will continue denouncing to the international community Maduro’s attempts to buy material to repress and assassinate protesters to remain in power.”

Venezuela’s foreign, defense and information ministries didn’t respond to requests for comment on the Brazilian ban on tear gas sales.

Shortages of hard currency and a shrinking pool of suppliers have forced Venezuelan security officers to resort to old stocks of tear gas that have expired up to a decade ago to contain the unrest, despite the health warnings on the canisters. Deaths and wounds from live weapons, which are banned at protests by Venezuelan law, are becoming a daily sight at demonstrations.

Since coming to power last year, the administration of Brazilian President Michel Temer has emerged as one of the sharpest critics of Mr. Maduro’s slide to authoritarianism, marking a turnaround from his leftist predecessor Dilma Rousseff.

While Mr. Temer himself has avoided speaking publicly about the crisis in Venezuela as he battles corruption allegations and protests of his own, his government has taken a series of measures against Mr. Maduro. Brazil led recent efforts to suspend Venezuela from South America’s trade group Mercosur. Last month, Mr. Temer also met with the family of jailed Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López and said Brazil was ready to provide humanitarian aid to the country.

“Brazil condemns the escalation of repression in Venezuela and appeals to the government of that country to respect the constitution,” Brazil’s foreign ministry said in a statement this month.

By Anatoly Kurmanaev and Samantha Pearson WSJ