Venezuela condemns US, Colombian violations of its territory

May 24, 2008

According to a May 19 report by Latin American TV station Telesur, Venezuela's defence minister Gustavo Rangel Briceno, denounced the fact that a US fighter jet violated Venezuelan airspace — around the La Orchila island, which houses a Venezuelan military base — two days earlier.

This violation occurred just one day after Caracas had condemned an incursion into Venezuelan territory by 60 Colombian soldiers.

Rangel read out an excerpt of the conversation between the Venezuelan control tower and a US pilot, explaining that the latter was not aware he was in Venezuelan territory, according to the Telesur report.

Telesur reported: "At the same press conference, the Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nicolas Maduro, announced that he talked with his Colombian counterpart, Fernando Araujo, about the incursion of the Colombian military into Venezuelan territory. He said they both agreed on activating diplomatic mechanisms in order to settle cross-border conflicts via diplomatic means."

According to a May 19 report, Venezuelan information minister Andres Izarra had confirmed on May 18 that the government has proof that 60 Colombian troops made an illegal incursion into Venezuelan territory — in the border state of Apure — on May 16.

Colombian defence minister, Juan Manuel Santos, had initially denied the claims the following day. "We have photos and other materials that demonstrate the military incursion into our territory", Izarra said.

Venezuela labelled the incursion "an act of provocation" that "aims to deliberately destabilise the region" and called on Colombia to immediately "cease these violations of international law and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Venezuela", according to

According to Telesur, at his press conference, Maduro announced he would arrange a meeting with US ambassador to Venezuela, Patrick Duddy, to demand an explanation of the violation of Venezuelan airspace. reported on May 21 that the meeting occurred the previous day and that Maduro had declared that Venezuela was not satisfied with the explanation given by Duddy.

Maduro stated that the Venezuelan government was not satisfied because "they had no justification, Venezuelan airspace and maritime territory is sacred", according to

Duddy argued that the violation was the result of a navigation error and assured the Venezuelan government that it would not occur again.

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