A Venezuelan Air Force Sukhoi Su-30 crashed at approximately 9:07 PM local time last night along the border with Colombia in Apure state The fight jet had allegedly been scrambled to intercept an “illicit aircraft” that had entered the country.
Early this morning, the Ministry of Defense issued a statement on the event, part of which reads:
The National Bolivarian Armed Forces inform the people of Venezuela that on September 17 2015, at approximately 21:07 hours, a Sukhoi-30 belonging to our glorious Bolivarian air force, piloted by Captain Ronaldo Ramirez and Captain Jackson Garcia, who in compliance with their sacred duty to safeguard our sovereign air space, at the time when the integral air defense system was activated after detecting an illicit aircraft that entered [Venezuela] from the country’s northwestern region heading south towards the border with the Republic of Colombia, an area where mafias involved in drug trafficking attempt to use our territory as a platform for distribution of drugs produced in the neighbouring country towards Central America and the Caribbean; crashed, and we do not at this moment know the condition of the pilots. As such, the immediate activation of an air accident investigation group has been ordered with the objective of determining the possible causes that precipitated the crash and take the necessary measures to locate the pilots.
Minister of Defense Vladimir Padrino Lopez announced earlier today that search teams were present in the area of the crash this morning, although he gave no word on whether they had found anything. Padrino Lopez also said that Maduro was looking to Russia to possibly acquire more Su-30s.
Later in the day, Padrino Lopez confirmed that the remains of the aircraft’s two crew members had been found. The wreckage of the plane was found in the Elorza region of Apure state. Padrino Lopez also gave more details of the event, saying:
[The airplane crashed] as it was flying over the cajon [I think this means “ravine”] of the Arauca [river] in Apure state, after [responding to] an alert of an incursion of an illegal aircraft detected by our Integral Aerospace Defense System.
Turning to the state of exception, Padrino Lopez said that soldiers were expected to arrive today in all of the municipalities under the measure in Zulia and Apure state:
Today, the necessary troops should be arriving so that they can stand up to this whole violence, criminality, human rights violation, mass graces, forced disappearances, drug trafficking, and extraction contraband.
Cabello: Colombia A Parasite on Venezuela
National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello yesterday at an event in Guasdualito, Apure state, on the ongoing tension with Colombia. Cabello said that some Colombian states bordering Venezuela have become parasites on the country, relying on smuggled goods to fuel the economy:
They’re taking absolutely everything out of Venezuela into Colombia, because those states in the north of Colombia don’t produce anything. They’ve lived as parasites from the [Venezuelan] state and the Venezuelan people. [Colombian] President Santos doesn’t want to take care of them; that’s another fact.
As to why the government chose this specific moment to finally act on the matter of extraction smuggling, Cabello said:
There’s an economic reason, unfortunately. Oil here used to cost $100 [per barrel], and we made do, we could afford the luxury. But with oil at $35 [per barrel], that has to be for Venezuelans. It’s that simple. And the Colombian government should take care of its people.
UN Body Calls for Lopez Release
The United Nation’s Working Group for Arbitrary Detentions has issued a statement condemning the verdict in the Leopoldo Lopez trial and calling for his release and for reparations to be paid over the abuses he has suffered at the hands of the Venezuelan justice system.
Seong-Phil Hong, the president of the organization, said:
The sentence was given after a 19-month long judicial process that took place behind closed doors and that was marked by serious irregularities.
Grenade Explodes in Tachira Store
At 7:40 AM local time, an unidentified assailants threw a grenade into a store in San Juan de Colon, Tachira state, injuring a 24 year old woman. San Juan de Colon is in the Ayacucho municipality, and is under a state of exception. It is located in Zone 2.
The injured woman, who works in the establishment, said that two individuals on a motorcycle drove up to the storefront and threw the grenade.
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