Caracas, June 12, 2022 (OrinocoTribune.com)—Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro had barely initiated his international tour, which has so far taken him to Turkey, Algeria and Iran, when a Boeing 747-300 belonging to Emtrasur (a cargo air company recently launched and a subsidiary of the state-owned Venezuelan airline Conviasa), was suspiciously detained by Argentinian authorities at the hands of the US government, in an attempt to bully Venezuela and Iran again.
On Saturday, June 11, the government of Argentina reported that it had grounded a Venezuelan Boeing 747-300M at the Ezeiza international airport, and stated that the aircraft was owned by the Iranian company Mahan Air. In reality, the airplane belongs to the Venezuelan government, and its inauguration flight was widely covered in February 2022, as reported by Orinoco Tribune and several other Venezuelan news outlets.
Emtrasur Cargo is a subsidiary of Conviasa created in November 2021, and its objective is the planning, administration and control of air cargo, mail operations and activities at the national and international level.
The 747-300M, currently carrying registration YV3531, is a 36-year-old jumbo jet and was delivered to UTA—Unión de Transports Aériens—in January 1986. It operated until the company’s closure in 1992, when it joined Air France, and then it was sold to Iran in 2007.
“Ownership of the plane was transferred a year ago and it was sold to a Venezuelan company,” Mahan Air spokesman Amir Hossein Zolanvari announced today from Teheran.
The Iranian official stated the grounding of this plane, using the name Mahan Air, is for political purposes. Many analysts see the hands of the US intelligence service behind the incident, trying to recreate the smear campaign launched several years ago against Conviasa’s commercial flights between Caracas and Tehran that coincidentally are set to resume on June 18.
Iran and Venezuela, both of which are under illegal US and European sanctions, have built a tight strategic alliance in recent years, to counter US and European aggression. The two countries signed a 20-year cooperation plan on Saturday during the visit made by Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro to Tehran.
The Argentinian harassment of the jumbo jet called Luisa Cáceres de Arismendi, (the name of a Venezuelan independence heroine) began last Monday, June 6, when it was scheduled to land in Ezeiza, serving Buenos Aires, on a flight from Mexico with a stopover in Caracas, but the fog was so intense that the 747 was diverted to the Córdoba airport. The trip was completed in the afternoon once visibility conditions had improved.
VIDEO: Tomate 43 segundos de tu tiempo, y reviví con nosotros lo que fue la salida del Boeing 747-300 de Emtrasur, en un momento en que el tiempo pareció detenerse para que los empleados del aeropuerto Córdoba, grabasen sus mejores fotos y videos. pic.twitter.com/6WHomzVDp2
— Spotters Cordoba (@SpottersCordoba) June 9, 2022
After 48 hours in Ezeiza, on Wednesday afternoon it took off to Caracas. But after almost 45 minutes of flight—20 of them over the Río de la Plata—it returned for “unknown reasons.” Many local sources pointed out that a flight authorization was not granted by Uruguayan authorities. Then the jumbo jet was held in Ezeiza, amid rumors, tweets, and multiple screenshots taken by flight-tracking spotters.
Argentina’s government has not publicly confirmed the grounding, but an Interior Ministry document shared with Reuters said that authorities had taken action due to suspicions over the stated reason for the plane entering the country.
According to the Interior Ministry document, 14 Venezuelans and five Iranians were traveling on the plane, and it listed the names of those on board. According to local sources, none of the Iranians had an arrest warrant in Argentina nor in any other part of the world. And since they did not enter illegally, although there was some administrative “sloppiness” in the flight manifest, no one was detained.
Smear campaign also in Paraguay
In May, the Boeing 747-300 of Emtrasur was also under the scrutiny of the Paraguayan aeronautical authorities, allegedly due to the excessive amount of crew it carried, seven of whom were of Iranian origin, according to local news reports.
The arrival in Paraguay of the Venezuelan plane was on May 13. The landing was in Ciudad del Este, in an airport that doesn’t usually receive such large cargo planes, but it was something else that allegedly caught the attention of the local aeronautical authorities: the Emtrasur Boeing had 18 passengers on board, seven Iranians and 11 Venezuelans.
"Es cierto. Aterrizó un avión carguero de una empresa Emtrasur. Es la primera vez que viene aquí. Trajo y declaró que tenía 18 tripulantes, 7 eran iraníes y 11 venezolanos", Douglas Cubilla, @dinacpy. #ALaGran730 #730AM pic.twitter.com/jL4rgeF2HI
— ABC Cardinal 730 AM (@ABCCardinal) May 18, 2022
“This is what the company declared: cargo planes usually only bring six or seven crew members, it was surprising that more [crew members] had come,” said the director of airports of the National Directorate of Civil Aeronautics (DINAC) of Paraguay, Douglas Cubilla. “It is the statement made by the company, we cannot intervene either. They declare them as crew members and they will have their reasons,” he added when asked by ABC Radio Cardinal AM 730 of Asunción about the unusual number of crew members on the Venezuelan plane.
US modus operandi
This is not the first time a smear campaign was launched against Venezuela-Iran relations. In March 2007, former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, in agreement with Iranian authorities, opened a weekly commercial-passenger flight that was heavily smeared by Washington and the myriad of mainstream media under its disposal. This incident occurs less than a week before the resumption of the same air route.
Orinoco Tribune’s editor, Jesús Rodrígues-Espinoza, was consulted regarding this new development of US aggression towards Venezuela: “Emtrasur Cargo has had an intense agenda in recent months, most of which is related to humanitarian assistance as well as regular commercial activities, as the reports from Argentina and Paraguay have shown was the nature of the recent stopovers in these countries, that are heavily infiltrated by US, European and even Israeli intelligence services.”
The Venezuelan journalist also added: “Reuters talks about Argentinian memos and makes reference to alleged Iranian nationals as part of the crew, and I want to give them the benefit of the doubt in believing that these reports are true. Emtrasur is a relatively new company and the Venezuelan crew is surely operating this kind of Boeing 747 aircraft for the first time. Thinking that there might be some Iranian trainers within the crew doesn’t sound Machiavellian to me, but of course it is used by Washington’s stenographers in the media and some local US puppets in the southern tip of the continent to spread lies about Venezuela and Iran.”
Special for Orinoco Tribune by staff