US Coast Guard Violated Venezuela Airspace: Defense Minister

Venezuela has recorded 32 violations of its airspace in 2016 alone, according to Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino.

Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino condemned Tuesday the recent violation of the country’s national airspace by foreign aircraft.

“An aircraft crossed our flight region without informing our control center,” said Padrino in a press conference in Caracas Tuesday, adding that the craft appeared to be carrying out a surveillance flight while the NAM conference was underway. Padrino recalled that the same kind of U.S. aircraft violated Venezuela’s airspace nearly a year ago in November 2015, which the United States acknowledged. The defense minister also reported that another aircraft was detected at 130 nautical miles on the night of Sept. 17.According to Padrino, a U.S. Coast Guard Bombardier Dash 8 was detected in Venezuelan airspace on Sept. 16, during the Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement’s on Venezuela’s Margarita Island.

Padrino stressed that the recent airspace violations are not isolated incidents, demanding explanations for why aircraft have passed over sovereign territory without informing Venezuelan officials.

Padrino dubbed the violation a “provocation,” and said that Venezuela remains at the ready to defend its sovereignty and promote independence, non-intervention, and peace. He also stressed that it is not only a Venezuelan issue, but an international issue governed by corresponding rules that must be upheld and respected.“It is not just this case, it is 32 violations of our airspace during 2016 alone,” he said. “We again denounce this situation of a military plane conducting patrols in our airspace.”

“In the name of the international community, we call on the United States to respect the international norms,” he said.

The defense minister also congratulated Venezuelan forces for providing security for the NAM Summit without a hiccup, calling the security initiative a “resounding success.”