Venezuela reports theft of aircraft after plane

Venezuela reports theft of aircraft after plane

The US government confiscated this Monday (12) the plane of the Venezuelan state-owned company Emtrasur that was held at Ezeiza airport, in Buenos Aires. The aircraft left the Argentine capital at around 1:20 am and arrived in Miami, in the United States, late in the morning. The aircraft had been blocked at Ezeiza airport since June 2022 under a judicial cooperation treaty between Argentina and the USA.

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The Venezuelan government issued a statement rejecting the “brazen theft” of the aircraft. According to the TeleSur news agency, the plane left the country like a military flight and turned off its aerial identification system to pass through some sections. The National Institute of Civil Aeronautics (Inac), which is Venezuela’s aeronautical authority, had already issued a Notam (Notice to Airman, in its acronym in English) prohibiting the aircraft from passing through Colombia.

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Notam is a message that can be issued by countries’ aviation authorities to determine temporary changes in air operations. Restriction on passage through a space is one of the measures that can be used by a country. These determinations are valid for up to three months.

The Venezuelan Ministry of Foreign Affairs also condemned the “confabulation” of the Argentine and US governments against Venezuela. The Emtrasur plane arrived in Argentina on June 6, 2022, from Mexico. The aircraft was loaded with car parts and had 19 crew members. The idea was to refuel in Buenos Aires and return to Venezuela, but fuel was denied on Argentine soil. The Boeing 747 went to Uruguay two days later, where supplies had been promised. However, Uruguayan authorities denied the plane entry into their territory, forcing the crew to return to Argentina.

The origin of the plane’s seizure is the fact that 5 of the 19 members of the plane’s crew were Iranians. Deputies from the Argentine right, from the Associação Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) and the Delegation of Argentine Israeli Associations (DAIA) appealed to the Argentine courts to detain the plane, which accepted the request. The groups claim that some members of the crew are linked to the attack on the AMIA building that occurred in Buenos Aires, in 1994, and left 85 people dead.

The governments of Argentina, the United States and Israel accuse Iran of having cooperated with the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah in the attack. However, Iranian cooperation was ruled out by intelligence agencies throughout the investigations.

Emtrasur is responsible for cargo transport and belongs to the Venezuelan state airline Conviasa. The company’s Boeing 747 was prevented from leaving Argentina from June 8, 2022 until this Monday (12). The Buenos Aires Court, which has not found any irregularities in the aircraft and crew so far, justifies the retention of the plane due to a judicial cooperation treaty with the USA.

The Argentine court decided to release 12 of the 19 crew members in September 2022. The last crew members were released 3 months later. In October 2022, a prosecutor in the District of Columbia in the USA requested the revocation of Emtrasur’s Boeing 747, claiming that it had been purchased from the Iranian company Mahan Air. The Argentine court ruled in January 2024 that the country would send the plane to the USA .

Last week, Venezuela’s Transport Minister, Ramón Celestino Velásquez Araguayán, said that Argentina intends to charge 7 thousand dollars for parking the plane.

Editing: Lucas Estanislau


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