U.S. Violated Venezuelan Airspace, Says Defense Minister

Venezuela's Minister of Defense, Gustavo Rangel Briceño, denounced on Monday, May 19, that a U.S. fighter jet violated Venezuelan airspace on Saturday night, one day after Caracas complained about a Colombian army’s incursion into Venezuelan territory.

According to Rangel, who read out loud an excerpt of the conversation between the Venezuelan control tower and a U.S. pilot, explained that the latter was not aware he was in Venezuelan territory and that his course was set to the Caribbean Curaçao island during a flight exercise.  

At the same press conference, the Venezuelan  Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nicolás Maduro, announced that he talked with his Colombian counterpart, Fernando Araujo, about the incursion of the Colombian military into Venezuelan territory. He said they both agreed on activating diplomatic mechanisms in order to settle cross-border conflicts via diplomatic means.

Regarding the U.S. fighter, Maduro said he will arrange a meeting with the U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela, Patrick Duddy, in order to demand an explanation.

On Saturday, Venezuela protested the Colombian military incursion; however, on Sunday, the Colombian Defense Minister, Juan Manuel Santos, denied it was an “act of provocation” as the Venezuelan government described it.

On March 1, Colombian troops illegally entered Ecuadorian territory in order to bombard a temporary FARC camp.

During the attack, the Colombian army slaughtered over 24 people (guerrilla members and civilians), including the FARC second-in-command, Raul Reyes, four Mexican students and an Ecuadorian citizen.

The violation to Ecuador’s sovereignty led this country to break diplomatic relations with Colombia, whose government defended the attack and justified it as part of its war against “terrorism.”