The Maduro government announced today that it was suspending all operations from Portugal’s flag-carrier airline, TAP, over what it called “irregularities” with the flight that brought back opposition leader Juan Guaido from his international tour last week.
The announcement came from Hipolito Abreu, Venezuela’s Minister of Transportation. Below, his announcement along with my translation:
Abreu: … has to do with TAP, flight TP173. In this flight, there were a few irregularities that national aviation authorities have been investigating very thoroughly. This is because, from our point of view, these irregularities affect aviation safety and have violated all international norms that regulate this sector.
We should inform that among the evidence that we found in this case, TAP flight 173 with destination Simon Bolivar International Airport, we found that the aircraft [registration] CSTKS had not followed aviation regulations in the following ways:
The aircraft’s documentation shows that the aircraft does not have CSTKS fumigation equipment (…) we were able to verify that the proper verification was not carried out on the people who entered the airplane. The security officers who were at the gate [in Lisbon] checking for people’s identities, and the documentation that they then provided did not correspond to the information that we had once [the aircraft] landed here. At the same time, we were able to determine that the security questionnaires used by TAP Portugal flight TP173 do not correspond to those approved by the [unintelligible] security program…
Last week, the flight brought back Juan Guaido from a successful trip abroad, where he met the leaders of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and France, among others.
Upon his return to Venezuela, the Maduro regime arrested Guaido’s uncle, who came back to the country on the same flight as him. He remains in custody today, and is accused of having smuggled explosives onto the aircraft.
TAP is the latest airline to face the ire of the Maduro regime in relation for a perceived slight. In 2018, Maduro suspended all Copa Airlines operations in Venezuela a week after the government of Panama placed him and other members of his government on a list of individuals deemed “high risk” for money laundering.
Guanipa Laments Military Drill Spending
National Assembly vice president Juan Pablo Guanipa lamented today the amount of money and other resources that the Maduro regime spends on military drills, as evidenced by this week’s nationwide Bolivarian Shield exercise. The drills involved every branch of the Venezuelan armed forces, and were meant to simulate responses to an invasion.
For Guanipa, the drills were a waste of valuable resources that could have been better spent on medical supplies or food for Venezuelans. He said:
How many dialysis machines could have been purchased with what is spent on military exercises? People don’t want military strength: they want food. People want to live in peace, breathe easy, and dedicate themselves to work.
In comments made to reporters today, Guanipa also said that while the nation’s soldiers and militia were “exercising” in the military sense, they were also conducting “mental exercises.” He explained:
The soldiers were doing military exercises, thinking about what their children were going to eat. Thinking about how to take care of their problems at home, and about how to make the Pyrrhic salary that they get from the [army]. The officers and soldiers live the same crisis that affects every other Venezuelan.
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