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Montevideo, August 16th 2022 - 04:27 UTC



Chilean deputies create committee to investigate Conviasa A-340 flights

Wednesday, July 13th 2022 - 09:23 UTC
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The lawmakers were not pleased with Chilean intelligence reports saying there was nothing unusual about those flights The lawmakers were not pleased with Chilean intelligence reports saying there was nothing unusual about those flights

Chile's Lower House Tuesday approved the creation of a special committee to investigate the case of the Airbus A-340-600 with Venezuelan registration YV-3533 bearing flag carrier Conviasa's colors which has reportedly landed around 13 times in Santiago this year, probably carrying Iranian passengers with unclear intentions, it was announced.

The former Mahan Air aircraft is one of the united Tehran gave Caracas as part of an agreement that also included the Emtrasur Boeing 747-300 currently seized by Argentine authorities.

Last week, a group of Chilean senators from the opposition Renovación Nacionalfiled a formal complaint before the Public Prosecutor's Office to investigate the five flights known by then to have been performed by that airplane, which resulted to have amounted to at least 13, according to newer data.

It is the same aircraft that brought Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro to Tehran in June and which is already under investigation in Argentina for at least four flights to Buenos Aires between April and May of this year.

Prosecutor Jorge Abbott focused his investigation on the identity of the crew members of each flight, but the lawmakers are now particularly interested in the June 22 flight, just days after the Emtrasur incident in Buenos Aires.

According to Emol, 89 passengers traveled on the first leg of the flight from Venezuela, and 135 returned from Santiago to Caracas' Maiquetía airport. According to reports, the airplane would have landed in Chile with a crew of 17 and 450 suitcases and 550 suitcases on the return flight.

Deputies Andrés Jouanett and Francisco Undurraga who promoted the initiative argued that they “did not feel satisfied” with the answer given by the Intelligence Agency to Interior Minister Izkia Siches stating there was nothing unusual about those flights. Conviasa's commercial flights to Chile started after the leftwing administration of President Gabriel Borwic Font signed a memorandum of understanding with that of Nicolás Maduro on March 6 to “broaden the spectrum of the Venezuela-Chile aerocommercial relationship.” In that document, it was agreed that Conviasa would operate the Caracas-Santiago route. “They signed an agreement with an airline that has international sanctions by the United States and is linked to groups that are considered terrorists,” Senator Paulina Núñez argued.

Conviasa and Mahan Air are on the White House's black list and sanctions may reach anyone assisting their aircraft in any form. Hence, the Emtrasur 747 problem to leave Argentina where refueling became unattainable, even before a judge ordered its seizing. In 2020, the US Treasury Department also defined that any foreign company with commercial interests in the United States should block any operation with Conviasa, of which Emtrasur is a cargo subsidiary.

According to Chilean media reports, the captain of the June 22 flight was Antonio José Cabriles Lobos, a former Venezuelan Air Force Lieutenant known for his involvement in the November 19992 coup d'état attempt against the democratic government of President Carlos Andrés Pérez which resulted in over 170 deaths. The uprising sought to free Lieutenant Colonel Hugo Chávez Frías, who had been under arrest since his revolt in February of the same year.

Cabriles Lobos depicts himself in his Linkedin account as a Conviasa pilot and Airbus 340 captain.

It was the second attempt to overthrow Perez that year. The first one took place in February and was led by Hugo Chávez, who at that time was in prison. This second attempt was a “tail” of the first one. Precisely, the objective of some of the insurgents, besides establishing a new government, was to free Chávez.

Cabriles Lobos later served on the presidential air transport group Chávez years and was appointed “Director in Charge of the University Institute of Civil Aeronautics” with the rank of “colonel.” On February 21, 2011, Cabriles is listed as Conviasa's Operations Manager in a press release announcing the Caracas-Havana route.

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