Updated 11:47 PM EST, Wed, Jan 20, 2021

Venezuela Claims U.S. Intelligence Plane Violated the South American Country’s Airspace

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Venezuela claimed that an intelligence plane from the United States violated the South American country's airspace.

On Sunday, Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino said that a U.S. Coast Guard Dash-8 aircraft flew out of Curacao, a Dutch island located near Venezuela's Caribbean coast, The Washington Post reported from The Associated Press. According to Padrino, the plane twice entered Venezuela's airspace over a 30-minute period on Friday and that it passed over the tiny archipelago of Los Monjes. The plane was performing what seemed to be a reconnaissance mission in the Gulf of Venezuela, which Colombia also bounds.

Padrino also said that other U.S. reconnaissance and military transport aircraft had flown near Venezuela in past days. No evidence was offered by Padrino to support his claims, but he noted that "the timing of the apparent maneuvers, as the country prepares for key legislative elections next month, was suspicious," The Washington Post further reported. He recalled how other U.S. military exercises allegedly heralded a short-lived coup in 2002 against then-Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.

Padrino added that the USS George Washington aircraft carrier would fly near the country around the same time as the Dec. 6 legislative elections, the news outlet noted.

"It's completely unusual that these types of aircraft, with all their electronic surveillance characteristics, to come near our area of influence," said Padrino, as quoted by The Washington Post.

The news outlet's report indicated that the U.S. is behind a so-called operating location on Curacao and the nearby Aruba, which are to blame for drug-interdiction operation in the Caribbean area. Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro said that he would condemn the alleged "military provocation" to the United Nations and regional groups, including the Union of South American Nations.

The U.S. Embassy in Caracas and the U.S. Coast Guard did not immediately respond to requests for comment, Reuters reported.

United States-Venezuela Dispute

Venezuela's leftist government regularly accuses the U.S. of plotting to overthrow its government and take control of the country's oil wealth, Reuters wrote. Earlier this year, the U.S. government sanctioned a number of senior Venezuelan officials allegedly involved in violating human rights of its "government opponents during a crackdown on anti-government protests," The Washington Post noted.

Numerous Venezuelan officials, including a former defense minister and the former head of military intelligence, have also received sanctions for their alleged involvement in drug trafficking, the news outlet added.

In October, Maduro also said that he will be suing the Obama administration in an attempt to lift an executive order signed earlier this year declaring Venezuela as an extraordinary threat to the U.S.' national security, The Wall Street Journal reported.

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