By Teresa Gonzales
International News Writer
In a televised broadcast on Sunday, Nov. 8, Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino claimed that Venezuelan airspace was violated by a United States intelligence aircraft, specifically a Dash-8, adding that other planes with the capacity to gather information circulated nearby.
According to AFP, the aircraft was said to have taken off on Friday, Nov. 6 from the Hato Rey base located on the Caribbean island of Curacao. The Dash-8 then proceeded to enter Venezuelan airspace close to the western Los Monjes archipelago on the Caribbean coast, as described by Padrino.
“The most serious part is that this plane, a Dash-8 … violated air space, our air space,” he said, adding the aircraft was close the western Los Monjes archipelago on the Caribbean coast, according to Reuters.
These claims were promptly denied by a US Coast Guard Spokesman who asserted that none of their planes had been in the vicinity at the time, according to BBC.
“If there is an aircraft, it’s not ours,” Chief Warrant Officer Chad Saylor told Agence France Press news agency. He then proceeded to call the Venezuelan allegations “unfounded”.
U.S. and Venezuelan relations have improved marginally since reaching a low point in March 2015, when the United States imposed sanctions upon multiple Venezuelan officials for alleged human rights abuses, as reported by the BBC.
Nevertheless, Venezuela has repeatedly accused the United States of interfering in domestic affairs.
“This deserves our attention,” Padrino said, as quoted by the BBC.
“Taking into account the precedents that exist, especially in the year 2002,” he added, alluding to the U.S.-endorsed coup that briefly deposed former leader Hugo Chavez.
According to BBC, critics of the Venezuelan government attribute Padrino’s allegations to an upcoming executive election on Dec. 6 and attempts by current President Nicolas Maduro to stoke nationalistic fervor.
Opposition politician Henry Ramos took to twitter after Sunday’s allegations in criticism of his opponent Maduro.
“Not even vultures fly around here,” he claimed, referring to the lack of international flights after airlines cut routes to Venezuela over debts, reports Reuters.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, November 17th print edition.
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