By Misión Verdad – Aug 14, 2022
On August 11, the Lomas de Zamora court (Buenos Aires, Argentina) accepted the request for the seizure of the Boeing 747 aircraft belonging to the Venezuelan company EMTRASUR, illegally held at the Ezeiza airport since June 8. The request was made earlier this month to the Argentine judge Federico Villena, by the Federal Court of the District of Columbia (Washington), which was sent by the United States Department of Justice to the authorities of the Argentine republic.
Accepting this order supposes a turn of events in the kidnapping of the Venezuelan aircraft, on various levels. Legally and judicially, it implies an act of foreignization of the case, specifically that of the plane, since now a trial will be opened in the US courts to settle the dispute over its final destination. Politically and diplomatically, it means that the aircraft has been effectively placed under the protection of the United States and reflects an intensification in the strategies used to tense the bilateral relations between Venezuela and Argentina, to the extreme.
The Ministry of Justice of Argentina did not use its powers
The court of Lomas de Zamora, charged to Judge Federico Villena, responded on August 11 to a communication sent by Dr. Juan Martín Mena, secretary of justice of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights of the nation, on August 3.
— Madelein Garcia (@madeleintlSUR) August 12, 2022
That day, August 3, Dr. Juan Martín Mena submitted a request for “diligence” (that is, to process a legal action), by virtue of the request sent by the Department of Justice of the United States, in the criminal investigation identified as CRM18284488.
Villena warns that in his opinion the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights of the nation has not made use of the powers granted to it by article three of law 24,034 titled “Treaty of Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters between the Government of the Republic of Argentina and the Government of the United States of America,” regarding the limits of assistance and/or the denial of it. This law dates back to 1991.
Said article states that, “…1. The central authority of the requested state may deny assistance if: a) the request refers to a political offense or an offense provided for in the military code but not in ordinary criminal law, or b) compliance of the request is likely to prejudice the security or other similar essential interests of the requested state…”
Article three establishes that, if the request (in this case, by the US) harms the essential interests of the requested state (in this case, Argentina), the Executive Branch may deny the request of the United States Department of Justice. Judge Villena contends that no harm was manifested.
Therefore, as the opinion indicates, this power was not used, thus the procedure corresponding to the request for assistance was approved. The Argentine Ministry of Justice did not submit the request for the conditions provided by the law, in order to disavow it within its own framework of legal provisions.
In other words, the Ministry of Justice did not consider that the hijacking of the Venezuelan-flagged Boeing 747 harms the interests of the country, even though it is acting in clear detriment to diplomatic relations between Venezuela and Argentina.
This twist certifies the division of the case on two fronts: the accusations of alleged “terrorism” suspicions with respect to the Iranian crew and the fate of the Venezuelan plane itself, which is now going to judicial instances in the United States’ framework of the alleged violation of the export controls of “sanctioned” entities.
UNITED STATES MANEUVERS TO HIJACK THE EMTRASUR PLANE
In the investigation prior to August 3, no basic elements, indications or evidence had been shown to justify the retention of the aircraft and its crew, but now, based on the maneuver of the United States Department of Justice, a framework to carry out the kidnapping has been setup.
The prosecutor Cecilia Incardona, in charge of the investigation, is also part of the maneuver in favor of the American seizure, given that since June, she has been pursuing the embargo of the plane. Both the prosecutor Incardona and Judge Villena are accused by the media, analysts and experts in the field of politicizing their positions and establishing links of an informal nature with power groups and lobbies of a different nature.
The US request for assistance is based on the “seizure/retention” of the aircraft, in order to prevent the “transfer/sale” of the aircraft, until the (US) prosecutor can obtain a final forfeiture order from the federal court of the District of Columbia.
The court of Lomas de Zamora proceeded by endorsing this request. By way of facts, it has left the case of the aircraft outside of Argentine jurisdiction, subjecting it to the designs of US courts, which, in recent years, have acted in an openly aggressive manner against Venezuela.
The opinion provides details for the US authorities to take custody and maintenance of the plane, as well as details on the steps to take, if and when the “definitive confiscation” is approved.
The United States asked the court to hand over all the data on the crew, and “evidence of violation of US law, including the financing of any Boeing flight to Iran or Russia.” They have also requested “any evidence” available “of material support or resources provided, by the aircraft and its crew, to designated foreign terrorist organizations,” with the clear intention of fabricating a political and media-friendly dossier.
After the searches of the aircraft by the Airport Security Police (PASA) in coordination with the FBI, ordered by Judge Villena, no solid elements have been found that point to incriminating evidence.
THE UNITED STATES INTENDS TO UNDERMINE TRUST BETWEEN VENEZUELA AND ARGENTINA
This judicial action of a political nature is especially directed against Venezuela in the framework of the operation of the kidnapping and theft of its assets abroad, where Emtrasur’s Boeing 747 is added to the list of illegal confiscations, including 31 tons of gold deposited in the Bank of England, the subsidiary of PDVSA in the United States, CITGO; the subsidiary petrochemical company of Pequiven in Colombia, and Monómeros, among other assets of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela abroad.
It is a direct blow that puts the fate of the aircraft at the forefront of the conflict, on a political and mediatic scale.
#13Ago El llamado de nuestro Presidente @NicolasMaduro es a la unión entre los pueblos hermanos de Argentina y Venezuela, solo la unión nos ayudará a vencer este nuevo ataque del imperio. Pedimos Libertad para el avión y tripulación de Emtrasur pic.twitter.com/qASOEaZATp
— Ramón Celestino Velásquez Araguayán (@rvaraguayan) August 13, 2022
The approval of the request made by Judge Villena implies an additional disadvantage for Venezuela. The authorities of the Bolivarian Government of Venezuela have limitations and obstacles of a legal and diplomatic nature to defend it’s sovereign assets withheld and frozen abroad, which supposes an intended political instrumentalization of said limitations, in order to take advantage.
The US government does not formally recognize the Venezuelan authorities. Since 2019, it has delegated the authority of supposed representation of the “Venezuelan side” in various lawsuits to people illegally, invested under the so-called “interim government” headed by Juan Guaidó.
In short, as actions framed in the lawfare (judicial war) against Venezuela, and this new Argentina chapter, seeks to disable the legal defense of Venezuela.
In addition, it is unusual that the ruling of a federal judge managed to retain an aircraft from a foreign country for more than two months and endanger the stability of diplomatic relations between the two nations, precipitating a climate of enmity and animosity.
These unfriendly gestures weaken the spirit of collaboration and respectful understanding conceived within the framework of comprehensive agreements that Argentina has signed and shares with Venezuela, in instances such as UNASUR and CELAC, among other regional bodies.
Regarding the unilateral coercive measures imposed against Venezuela by the United States, this maneuver seeks to align Argentina, disciplining its foreign policy to coerce it into collaborating with the campaign of “illegal” sanctions and thus break the cycle of geopolitical recomposition of the continent within CELAC, generating divisions and confrontations between symbolic actors of the regional body.
In technical terms, the argument of the United States Department of Justice in relation to the case is inconsistent. It questions the acquisition of the plane by Venezuela from the Iranian airline Mahan Air, stating that the commercial operation should have been authorized by the Department of the Treasury.
However, the United States has prohibited all commercial dealings with Venezuelan state companies and does not recognize the legitimate authorities of the country. That is why, if there was a hypothetical request for authorization to acquire the aircraft, it would have been denied by the Treasury Department’s own regulations, since the Bolivarian Government is not officially recognized by the United States.
In short, the United States would have had to break its own blockade, recognize the Bolivarian Government of Venezuela, in order to meet its own demands. The legal absurdity promoted by the United States and the complicity of Judge Villena and prosecutor Incardona of Argentina confirm that this is a political maneuver to break the accumulation of a climate of trust between Venezuela and Argentina, with the aim of weakening the shift to the left in the region.
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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