Last update: 04-Dec-2013 12:33 pm
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Clash over Puerto Rico airspace
Another diplomatic dispute between US and Venezuelan authorities has spilled over in the public domain.
The US is being accused of taking too long to give Venezuela permission travel through U.S. airspace. However, U.S. authorities are insisting that proper procedure was not followed by the Venezuelan government.
A brief letter issued this afternoon by the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Port-of-Spain said, "The U.S. Department of State wishes to correct the public record on certain claims by the Venezuelan government. Venezuelan Government officials aboard a Cuban-registered aircraft sought permission to pass through U.S. airspace over Puerto Rico en route to Europe without following proper diplomatic clearance procedures.
"The Government of Venezuela made a request for diplomatic clearance for their aircraft to enter U.S. airspace with one day’s advance notice. Diplomatic flight clearances are required to be made with three days advance notice. Although the request was not properly submitted, U.S. authorities worked with Venezuelan officials at the Venezuelan embassy to resolve the issue. U.S. authorities made an extraordinary effort to work with relevant authorities to grant over flight approval in a matter of hours.
As a result, we notified the Venezuelan authorities of the approved over-flight request the evening of September 19."
Meanwhile, Latin American news site Prensa Latina today reported, "A US State Department spokesman said today that Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro's plane had been granted permission to fly over Puerto Rico, on his trip to China. However, the U.S. State Department tried to justify the delay with the pretext that the request was not filed in time, adding that authorities were negotiating with officials from the Venezuela embassy to solve the problem.
"According to the U.S. report, State Department officials made an effort to work with competent authorities in order to grant flight approval within hours, and as a result, the Venezuelans were informed last night that the permission was granted.
"Venezuela's Foreign Minister Elias Jaua denounced yesterday Washington's denial of the pertinent authorisation so that the plane in which Maduro will travel to China today could fly over U.S. airspace, specifically over the territory of Puerto Rico. After hearing the Caracas complaint yesterday night, Bolivia's President Evo Morales said he would propose that the presidents of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America boycott the U.N. General Assembly next week, in New York, in protest over the incident.
"Morales requested that the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States hold an emergency meeting to consider the incident. The Bolivian president was a victim of a similar action in July, when France, Spain, Italy, and Portugal canceled the flight permits of Morales' airplane, returning from Moscow, Russia.
"The measure was taken under the unfounded suspicion that the aircraft carried former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, pursued by Washington for revealing a secret espionage program."
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