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Alvaro Enrique Saldivia Lopez

Mar 22, 2024

Apparently, nothing infuriates Uncle Sam more than collective property used for humanitarian purposes. Recently, images were published corroborating that the plane belonging to the Venezuelan company Emtrasur (Aerocargo del Sur Transport Company), which was seized by Argentina and confiscated by the United States in mid-February, then destroyed at an airport in Florida.

This concludes one of the most blatant violations of international law in recent memory, which involved kidnapping, theft, and destruction. The episode also exposes the subservience of certain governments in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as Washington's capricious approach to international relations.

The aircraft, registered as YV3531, departed from Ezeiza to Florida on February 12, 2024. This crucial aircraft played a vital role in humanitarian missions, delivering essential supplies such as medicine, food, and other life-sustaining elements to those in need both within and outside of Venezuela. It conducted many missions to various African nations as well as Haiti and other countries in the Caribbean and Latin America.

How did it all begin?

It began on June 5, 2022, when the Boeing 747-300M took off from Querétaro, Mexico, with full authorization from the Federal Civil Aviation Agency and National Institute of Migration. It was carrying spare parts upon the request of Volkswagen. The following day, after stopping in Córdoba, the aircraft landed in Buenos Aires. However, when attempting to refuel, the company Shell declined to honor the prepaid contract for refueling the aircraft at Ezeiza International Airport.

As a result, on June 8th, the crew attempted to reach Uruguay to refuel. However, Montevideo revoked the permit allowing the plane to fly over Uruguayan airspace due to US sanctions. The aircraft was forced to return to Ezeiza.

The Argentine authorities, under the Fernández administration, then detained the Venezuelan plane. This marked the beginning of a protracted struggle to free the Venezuelan-Iranian crew, who were detained without cause, and to rescue a national asset used for transporting supplies to a nation facing over 960 illegal coercive measures against its economy, assets, and population.

According to the Argentine journalist, Stella Calloni,"from the Ministry of the Interior of Paraguay (...) had informed his Uruguayan counterpart that this plane could have 'terrorists' on board. Investigating later, several investigators learned that this report came from Israeli intelligence, whose presence in Paraguayan territory is becoming increasingly important.”

The mega-operation was covered by the hegemonic media, which initiated a campaign linking the aircraft to an alleged international terrorist plan. In parallel, the Delegation of Israeli-Argentine Associations (DAIA), and the ultra-right leaders, Gerardo Milman and Ricardo López Murphy, appeared in court arguing that the flight could be hiding a terrorist operation.

No crimes to be found

Meanwhile, Fernández himself would tell the press on June 17 that after an inspection of the cargo and the plane in general, the authorities found nothing suspicious.

In turn, Federal Judge Federico Villena, responsible for the investigation, found no evidence linking the crew to acts of Islamic terrorism or illegal espionage. This conclusion was drawn from the examination of the contents of the phones and documents seized during the raid ordered on June 14th.

Specifically, it was shown that the Emtrasur plane was not hired by a terrorist organization but by Faurecia, a supplier of Volkswagen, through an intermediary, Forwarder Fracht USA.

For a year and a half, the world witnessed numerous crimes being committed, with no regard for international law, international laws concerning international civil aeronautics, or even respect for human rights. Despite these violations, there was no intervention to restrain the criminal actions of the United States government.

After several months of being kidnapped, the 19 crew members were released for lack of evidence.

Javier Chainsaw Milei

However, under the new far-right government led by Javier Milei in Argentina, local judicial permits were expedited so as to extradite the aircraft to the United States. This move was unsurprising, given that the president had pledged to be a compliant stooge of Washington and Tel Aviv even before his election.

The installation of puppet regimes highlights how US laws operate extraterritorially as universal mandates. However, these injustices would be impossible without the servility and complicity of governments irrationally aligned with the United States.

Imperialist criminal plunder

The US government has a long history of criminal activities, but what stands out most in the entire process of looting involving the Emtrasur plane was the petty "theft" it executed. The facts of the case are as follows:

  • The plane departed from Ezeiza in the early morning, using a different license plate to conceal its identity as the Emtrasur plane.

  • While passing through Tucumán towards the Pacific, they deactivated the transponder, a crucial communications system.

  • When the aircraft flew over Colombia and authorities were notified that it couldn't pass Colombian airspace, the perpetrators claimed it was a military plane and deactivated the transponder, radars, and other signals.

  • They followed the drug trafficking route through the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, heading north through the Bahamas, where significant quantities of drugs bound for the United States are trafficked.

  • The plane landed in the United States at Dade-Collier, a training airport in Florida, before noon on Monday.

  • They then flaunted their triumph over the seized loot: "Mahan Air (the Iranian company that sold the plane to Venezuela) violated our export restrictions. It is now the property of the United States government," said Matthew Axelrod, undersecretary for Export Control, during the act of piracy.

The Venezuelan plane's final destination was the scrapyard at Dade-Collier Transition and Training Airport (TNT), situated 58 kilometers from Miami and managed by the state government. Since February 28th, videos have emerged showing its destruction.

Beyond the act of plunder, the destruction of a fully operational plane carries a symbolic weight and a clear narrative for those striving from a sovereign perspective to overcome the obstacles imposed by the coercive aggression of the United States.

Surely, sooner or later, aircraft will be added to the Emtrasur fleet that will strengthen its commercial and humanitarian operations. However, what cannot be erased is the capriciousness of US behavior, which further undermines its legitimacy around the world.

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