US Politics

The Venezuelan delegation protests against the flight ban in Argentina

#Venezuelan #delegation #protests #flight #ban #Argentina

An official Venezuelan delegation, including the transport minister, protested outside the Argentine embassy in Caracas on Thursday over the grounding of a plane and its crew in Buenos Aires since June.

The Boeing 747 cargo plane, owned by Venezuelan firm Emtrasur, has been detained in Argentina since arriving with a load of car parts from Mexico on June 8 after unsuccessfully attempting to enter Uruguay.

Minister Ramon Velasquez and pro-government lawmakers visited the embassy Thursday to protest as a few dozen workers from the state airline Conviasa gathered outside and chanted, “Give back the plane and crew!”

Conviasa, which controls Emtrasur, is the target of US sanctions.

The Velasquez delegation presented a document to Ambassador Oscar Laborde.

“We gave the ambassador some communications so that the authorities, the counterparts in Argentina, could sit down and talk about the situation in order to find the best alternative and the best solution to this problem,” Velasquez said afterwards.

“We hope that the truth will prevail, that the Argentine judiciary will respond, that it will not take this illegality-ridden situation to a new level,” he said.

– “espionage and terrorism” –

The Boeing first entered Argentina on June 6 with a cargo of auto parts from Mexico.

The plane was unable to refuel due to the sanctions in Buenos Aires and flew to Montevideo on June 8. But the Uruguayan authorities denied it access and it flew back to Argentina.

A judge ordered the plane detained in light of an investigation into the crew of 14 Venezuelans and five Iranians.

Last week a judge gave the green light for 12 crew members to leave Argentina – minus four Iranians and three Venezuelans. This decision is now being appealed.

Velasquez said the crew members were being investigated for “espionage and terrorism.”

“They have not yet been summoned to testify, their right of defense is being violated,” he charged.

Paraguayan intelligence has linked one of the Iranian crew members to al-Quds Force, a Iranian Revolutionary Guards group classified as a terrorist organization by the United States.

But Velasquez said the intelligence report was “biased.”

The United States has asked Argentina to seize the plane, claiming laws were violated when it was sold by Iran to Venezuela – both countries under US sanctions.

Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro protested the US request, which he said amounted to an attempt to “steal” the plane, and asked Argentina for help.

The United States’ entry into the fray has also sparked street demonstrations in Venezuela.

On Wednesday, Venezuelan lawmaker Pedro Carreno urged Argentine President Alberto Fernandez to “show whether he’s a puppet of empire, whether he’s a puppet of imperialism, or whether he’s really running this country.”

Argentine Presidency spokeswoman Gabriela Cerruti said at her weekly briefing on Thursday that the outbreak “does not imply a diplomatic incident.”

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