Mérida, January 7th 2010 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Following Holland’s denial that its collaboration with the U.S. military in the Dutch Antilles threatens Venezuela, the Venezuelan government released new evidence that a U.S. war plane took off from Curacao and violated Venezuelan air space last year.
On Wednesday, the Caracas-based television station Telesur played a transcript of the radio conversation between the pilot of the U.S. plane and the control tower at Venezuela’s Maiquetía airport, dated May 17th, 2009. The government denounced the incursion last year, but did not release the transcript at that time.
In the transcript, Venezuelan authorities asked the pilot to identify the airplane, its origin, and its intention upon entering Venezuelan airspace. The pilot confirmed that it was a U.S. military plane originating from Curacao that did not have permission to enter Venezuelan air space. The pilot said it had been an “error” and that the pilot “was not conscious of having flown into this air space.”
Venezuelan Vice President and Defense Minister Ramon Carrizalez said the transcript is further evidence that the U.S. is planning an aggression against Venezuela through third party countries such as Curacao.
“On May 17th 2009 a U.S. war plane took off from Curacao, and violated our air space,” Carrizalez said on Wednesday. Through this and similar operations in other countries, the U.S. is “creating the conditions to justify an aggression against our country,” he said.
Carrizalez reiterated Venezuela’s intention to promote peaceful international relations, but defend itself against foreign aggression. “No country should think it can attack our sovereignty in impunity, without receiving a decisive response,” said the minister and vice president.
The release of the evidence came days after Holland denied that its military collaboration with the U.S. in its Caribbean territories is a threat to Venezuela.
Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen declared last week that Venezuela’s accusations are “unjust, erroneous, and fantastical,” and said, “Holland does not permit the use of its territory for aggressions and it aspires to maintain good relations with Venezuela.”
The minister reiterated previous statements that the U.S. military operations in the Dutch Antilles have gone on for several years, are unarmed and geared solely toward the fight against drug trafficking.
Venezuela, however, has repeatedly expressed its suspicion of such claims. In a statement released on December 31st, 2009, the Venezuelan government said it “doubts that the facilities that the government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands has put at the disposal of U.S. military personnel are used for the fight against drug trafficking.”
The statement cited “the recurring excuse of drug trafficking” and “the United States’ tradition of using third party countries to carry out spy operations and launch military attacks” as part of the reason for its suspicion.
“Considering this, the national government demands that Dutch authorities honor their commitments to peace and international security, and abstain from attacking Venezuela, or offer its collaboration for such an end,” the statement said.
Venezuela also accuses its neighbor, Colombia, of allowing the U.S. to conduct military operations that threaten Venezuela and other countries in the region. Last October, Colombia signed a military pact to allow the U.S. to expand its presence on seven Colombian bases, with diplomatic immunity for U.S. military personnel.
Colombian and U.S. officials, including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, claimed the deal was merely an extension of the two countries’ previous collaboration to fight drug trafficking and Colombian insurgents, and that it did not pose a threat to other countries.
However, official U.S. Air Force documents explicitly stated that the U.S. plans to construct new bases in Colombia, and that Colombia will be used as a launching pad for espionage and “full spectrum operations” across the entire South American continent.
In public statements on Wednesday, former Venezuelan Defense Minister Orlando Maniglia said the U.S. operations in Curacao constitute “a new stage of aggression by the United States against Venezuela.” He said the May 2009 incident was not an accident, because “the first thing a pilot makes clear are the limits to which he can fly.”
Maniglia said the violation of Venezuelan air space was “a premeditated calculation to test the reaction time of Venezuela and to see what there is on La Orchila,” a Venezuelan coastal island used mainly by the Venezuelan military.
“Venezuela is respectful of the sovereignty of other countries… we are not seeking wars, and we never have,” said Maniglia.
The Foreign Relations Committee of the Venezuelan National Assembly announced this week it will investigate the potential for an attack on Venezuela from Colombia, Curacao, or another foreign aggressor and prepare a document outlining potential responses, to be presented to the Assembly for ratification.