By Misión Verdad – June 16, 2022
Since June 8, an event has shocked the Argentine press, encouraged by the opposition to the government of Alberto Fernández, and by certain local Israeli organizations. These forces have used the grounding of a Venezuelan flight to justify an attack, not only on the current Peronist administration of Argentina, but also on the key geopolitical targets of Venezuela and Iran.
The retention of a Boeing 747, with Venezuelan registration YV3531, is causing a series of reactions that are linked to politics and international relations in Argentina, and that have little to do with the seriousness that the matter requires from local authorities.
The first thing to mention about the cargo aircraft is that it belongs to Empresa de Transporte Aerocargo del Sur, SA (Emtrasur), a company created by the Venezuelan state on November 19, 2020 through Decree No. 4,379.
Said jumbo jet was purchased by Venezuela from the Iranian airline Mahan Air, a company that is on the List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Department of the Treasury, included under the name of “secondary sanctions.”
The plane was named Luisa Cáceres de Arismendi at the time of its arrival in Venezuela, after the purchase from the Iranian company. It should be noted that Emtrasur is not included on the list of targets of US unilateral coercive measures—euphemistically referred to as “sanctions.”
According to the analysis of the case by Venezuelan news website La Tabla:
“… it is worth arguing that the designation of an asset is not separate from the entity to which it belongs and has it under its control. Therefore, it is not consistent to transfer (as an attribute) the designation once it has ceased to belong or be under the control of the listed entity or person… In a circumstance such as the one exposed, the appropriate thing would be the designation of the entity (in this case Emtrasur) and consequently of its aircraft used for the behavior that the coercive measure intends to prevent or sanction.
The fact that the Boeing 747 YV3531 is not subject to any US “sanctions” was confirmed by the head of the Argentine Federal Intelligence Agency, Agustín Rossi, adding that “none of the passengers that made up the crew had any type of complaint or Interpol Red Notice. The plane’s cargo was verified in every possible way. It was verified that the cargo that was declared was the one that was on the plane and the entire process was normal.”
Therefore, the investigation being carried out on the Venezuelan cargo plane seized at the Ezeiza airport by the Argentine authorities on June 8, along with its crew—14 Venezuelans and five Iranians who, according to local news outlets, have been deprived of their passports and are being held in Buenos Aires—appears to be unjustified.
Its Iranian crew members, from foreign state agencies, are accused of terrorism, according to a US designation issued during the Trump administration.
The cargo aircraft came from Mexico, specifically from Querétaro, after a stopover in Caracas, with the aim of transporting auto parts acquired by the private Argentine company SAS Automotriz SA, supplier for Volkswagen.
On June 8, it flew to Uruguay with the aim of refueling, but the minister of defense of that country, Javier García, declared at a press conference that he himself denied landing permission to the Venezuelan plane at the Carrasco Airport, after having received an alert from the Minister of the Interior Luis Alberto Heber.
“It is information that the Ministry of the Interior had received from foreign agencies, which was turned to Uruguay and, since the jurisdiction belongs to the Ministry of Defense, I am the person responsible for making that decision,” Garcia said.
After being denied access to Uruguayan airspace, the Emtrasur jumbo jet returned to Ezeiza, where it was grounded and seized.
According to statements by the Paraguayan Interior Minister Federico González, his country’s intelligence services, alongside authorities from the United States government, notified Argentina and other countries in the region of a “suspicion” that the Venezuelan plane had “Iranian terrorists” among its crew.
The Argentine Minister of Security Aníbal Fernández said in a radio interview that he received “information from foreign organizations that warned about some of the crew members belonging to companies related to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.”
In fact, the Argentine authorities retained the plane but not its crew members, who had the right to return to Venezuela on commercial flights, until Saturday, June 11, when a lawyer filed an injunction before a federal judge, Federico Villena.
The complainant is the Delegation of Argentine Israelite Associations (DAIA). The complaint says :
By allowing this plane to enter, not only the security of our entire country was put at risk, but also that of South America. Letting the crew go without inquiring about it … would be a lost opportunity to help fight international terrorism… Those originally from Iran would have links with the Quds forces, belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, declared a terrorist group by the United States.
However, there is no relationship between the Iranian crew members of the aircraft in question and the US designations for terrorism. La Tabla confirmed that “Iranian civil aviation captain Gholamreza Ghasemi, one of the pilots of the B737 of the Venezuelan airline Emtrasur, was confused with an Army Brigadier General [of the same name], who died on April 21, 2012, that is, 10 years ago.”
Se trata de un oficial homónimo del piloto, que comandó la 92° División Blindada del Ejército de #Irán, y se destacó por la liberación de la ciudad de Sousangerd durante la guerra contra Irak en la década de los años 80.
Vean datos verificables localizados en la web por #LaTabla pic.twitter.com/ypt6bp42sD
— La Tabla (@latablablog) June 14, 2022
#FakeNews Aquí tienen la foto y biografía del general de brigada Gholamreza Ghasemi, comandante de la 92.ª División de Ahvaz. #Iran
Nació en 1930 en Tabriz y falleció en ABR 2012.
Es casi 30 años mayor que su homónimo el piloto con quién lo confundió la inteligencia Argentina. pic.twitter.com/e7z5xrwNfE
— La Tabla (@latablablog) June 14, 2022
A report from Argentinian news outlet Pagina|12 stated:
“As is known, on the morning of this Tuesday [June 14], Judge Villena ordered a search-operation at the Canning Design hotel, where 14 Venezuelans and five Iranians who make up the crew are staying. Cell phones were taken, a computer and, in addition, the magistrate kept the passports of the Venezuelans despite the fact that he had returned their documents 24 hours before.”
Although several deputies of the Argentine opposition presented requests for reports on the case, responsibility for the decision to initiate an investigation rests with the prosecutor Cecilia Incardona.
For now, as long as the matter does not progress, the plot is being talked about by the hegemonic media in Argentina and internationally with the aim of tainting everything related to the case as much as possible.
Who are they targeting?
Both Argentina’s Minister of Security Aníbal Fernández and Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero referred to the situation of the Venezuelan plane hijacked in Ezeiza and its crew as a case that falls under the jurisdiction of the Argentine justice system. There has been no political statement on the matter by Alberto Fernández.
The events have been politicized by opposition deputies, who have gone on the offensive, and the DAIA, in addition to the direct participation of security and “intelligence” agencies of Paraguay, Uruguay, and the United States, regarding the “information” about the aircraft and the crew.
The legislators in question are part of the Together for Change coalition, led in this political operation by Waldo Ezequiel Wolff, former DAIA vice president and current president of the International Council of Jewish Parliaments for Latin America.
Both Wolff and the DAIA have brought to public and media memory the attack against the headquarters of the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) in Buenos Aires on July 18, 1994 as an excuse to bring the anti-Iranian discourse to the fore. In October 2006 the criminal lawyer Alberto Nisman, murdered by gunfire on January 18, 2015, accused the government of Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah party of involvement in the 1994 bombing incident.
Despite the fact that Jewish-Israeli organizations have attempted to pin responsibility on the Islamic Republic of Iran for the AMIA case, it has not been possible to clarify its participation in the attack. And Argentina has not included the Al-Quds brigade, belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards, on its list of suspected terrorists.
The case of the Emtrasur aircraft is intended to activate a propaganda campaign against various targets, including the government of Alberto Fernández and that of Nicolás Maduro, with the “Iranian plot.”
With this smear campaign, mainstream media attempts to exert political pressure that would seek to prevent the repair of diplomatic relations between Buenos Aires and Caracas, even when the Argentine foreign minister responded moderately to the matter, as we have already mentioned.
The Together for Change coalition’s demand that Argentina’s Foreign Ministry summon Stella Lugo, the diplomatic representative of Venezuela to the southern country, to ask for explanations about the case—when there is no convincing evidence that the Venezuelan Boeing 747 or its crew have terrorist connections—only means that Macrismo is trying to influence public perception. Int his manner, Argentina’s right-wing opposition forces attempt to strain diplomatic relations between the two countries.
This occurs after the geopolitical failure of the 9th Summit of the Americas convened by US President Joe Biden in Los Angeles, California, where President Alberto Fernández himself voiced agreement with the widespread condemnation of the exclusion of Venezuela, Cuba, and Nicaragua from the multilateral meeting.
Let us recall that Argentina is currently presiding over CELAC, an organization that has been called upon to supplant the OAS as a cooperative meeting space between Latin Caribbean countries, and whose weakening will be a priority for Washington in the face of a scenario of US hegemonic decline in the region.
In addition, the “Iranian terrorism” accusations serve as an excuse to divert attention from Operation Puma, the exercise carried out by the Argentine army, during the administration of Mauricio Macri, whose goal was the military invasion of Venezuela. The Venezuelan National Assembly has been investigating the case alongside representatives of Peronismo and the southern congress in Buenos Aires since the scandal broke earlier this year.
The United States, with the Emtrasur case, seeks to shift the spotlight away from the failure of the Summit of the Americas, by attacking the Bolivarian Republic through Argentina. The background of the maneuver with the hijacking of the cargo plane and its crew consists of repositioning the persecutory logic of unilateral coercive measures on the regional agenda, even as they consistently fail to carry out Washington’s political and economic goals.
Translation: Orinoco Tribune
Misión Verdad is a Venezuelan investigative journalism website with a socialist perspective in defense of the Bolivarian Revolution
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