US accuses Venezuela of aggression in skies over Caribbean

Cheryl Sanders
July 22, 2019

US authorities on Sunday said that a Venezuelan fighter jet "aggressively shadowed" an American intelligence plane flying in global airspace over the Caribbean, underscoring rising tensions between the two nations.

The incident, which occurred on Friday, involved a "Russian-made" SU-30 Flanker Venezuelan fighter aircraft and a US Navy EP-3 Aries II aircraft conducting a "detection and monitoring" mission, US Southern Command said in a statement.

U.S. Southern Command says aggressive military tactics over the Caribbean Sea 'underscores Maduro's recklessness'.

SOUTHCOM said that the "unprofessional" act demonstrated a continued action by the Maduro regime to "undermine internationally-recognized laws and demonstrate its contempt for worldwide agreements authorizing the US and other nations to safely conduct flights in global airspace".

In a statement published on Sunday by Venezuela's government, the South American country's armed forces said they rejected "the incursion of a USA reconnaissance and intelligence aircraft" in the flight area surrounding Maiquetia airport, which serves the capital city of Caracas.

SOUTHCOM added the action by Venezuela "demonstrates Russia's irresponsible military support to the illegitimate Maduro regime and adds to Maduro's growing legacy of reckless and negligent behavior, which undermines global rule of law and efforts to counter illicit trafficking".

Venezuela's Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino Lopez says the US plane entered Venezuelan airspace without prior notification.

"The [Armed Forces] firmly reject this type of provocation by the United States and will be alert in order to safeguard the peace of the Venezuelan people who have decided free, independent and sovereign".

Tensions between the US and Maduro's socialist government have been high in recent months.

SOUTHCOM said that the U.S.

The South American nation was plunged into political turmoil in January when National Assembly speaker Juan Guaido declared himself acting president in a direct challenge to Maduro's authority.

Maduro has retained the backing of Venezuela's military and other institutions, as well as China, Russia and Cuba.

Sen Marco Rubio, R-Fla., addressed the incident in a tweet on Sunday.

SOUTHCOM also shared a video of how close the Venezuelan fighter jet got to the Navy plane on Twitter. "If they ever harmed any US aircraft they would soon have zero".

Other reports by iNewsToday