So far this year, Air Canada and Alitalia have suspended flights in and out of Venezuela over a 4 billion dollar debt they are owed by the Venezuelan government. On March 19 of this year, Air Canada suspended operations to and from Venezuela, and Alitalia made the same move two days ago.
Today, the Asociacion de Lineas Aereas de Venezuela (ALAV) [Venezuelan Airline Association] said that several airlines were considering similar moves. Humberto Figuera, president of ALAV, said:
The situation is critical. The debt has reached 4 billion dollars. This has a limit established by each airline, but they are all worried, they’re all on the list and they’re studying whether or not to suspend operations temporarily (…) There is a risk of isolation in the next few months.
Figuera’s comments could not have been more timely, as Lufthansa today informed travel agencies in Venezuela that they would not be issued with any more tickets. While details on the move are scarce, no flights have been cancelled, so it would appear as though anyone who has bought a Lufthansa ticket prior to today can still expect to be able to board their flight.
In Other News
Speaking on the cancelled talks between his government and the opposition, Maduro today said that it would be a pity if the opposition were to withdraw completely from the talks, but reiterated that the meetings between the two sides were “not a negotiation”. Maduro continued:
Who called for the dialogue? Me… who had the patience to call for the Peace Conference? Me, the head of state of this country, of this government. Who invited UNASUR? The Minister of Foreign Affairs did on March in Chile. Who invited the Pope and the Vatican? Who invited them to Miraflores? Who put them in cadena? Why was I able to hold that debate in private? What kind of president asks an opposition like the one we have in Venezuela to talk and puts them in cadena?
Maduro also suggested that the opposition leaders were being “blackmailed” from Miami, although he did not elaborate on this point.
Below is a video showing an apartment fire in the Lomas del Avila neighbourhood in Caracas. Apparently, the fire started when a National Guard soldier fired a tear gas canister into the building. Firing tear gas canister into apartment buildings has unfortunately been a staple tactic of the National Guard, as was pointed out by Amnesty International.
While it’s impossible to tell what really ignited the fire, the suggestion that it was caused by a projectile roughly the size of a tear gas canister fired from the street below is not far fetched. Starting at around 0:24, the window of the apartment can be seen, broken, as if an object had been thrown through it.
Finally, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was in Venezuela today, where he – among other things – visited Chavez’s tomb. Here he is pictured below with Venezuelan Vice President Jorge Arreaza: