Scores of supporters of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro Tuesday staged a rally across the streets of Caracas to demand that Argentina's judiciary releases Emtrasur's Boeing 747-300 cargo aircraft seized at Buenos Aires' Ezeiza International Airport.
Yankee, thief, return the plane! the protesters chanted under the hashtag #DevuelvanElAvión. They also demanded the release of the crew members still banned from leaving Argentina pending investigations.
The freighter was seized June 8 by a judge who launched an investigation into the crew's alleged underlying motives for the journey, which are believed to be linked with terrorism instead of with delivering Mexican-built seats for a Volkswagen car manufacturing plant.
The crew consisted originally of 14 Venezuelans and five Iranians. The judge last week allowed the departure of 12 of the crew members. A US court has asked Argentina to seize the plane, arguing that laws were violated when it was sold by Iran to Venezuela.
After that, Maduro dispatched a team of experts to Argentina to fight for Venezuela.
This is an anti-imperialist march, demanding the empire to give us back our things, our goods. Fighting the double moral discourse they have, of saying that they do everything for democracy and what it turns out is that they steal from the countries, from the peoples, Carolina Carrero, a 47-year-old demonstrator, told AFP.
We are marching because we are reclaiming the plane that was hijacked by the U.S. empire, another protester said.
The 747 entered Argentina on June 6 with a cargo of auto parts from Mexico. Unable to refuel in Buenos Aires, it departed June 8 for Montevideo, but it was denied entry into Uruguayan airspace and was forced back to Ezeiza.
That is a judicial system on its knees! to the United States, lashed Venezuelan Parliament Speaker Jorge Rodríguez. What is happening in a vulgar hijacking of an airplane, he stressed.
The march also demanded the unblocking of more than US$ 1.9 billion in gold at the Bank of England, also entangled in a legal battle.
Rodríguez ruled out dialogue as the proper way to achieve the release of the four-engined aircraft.
We are not going to move either in things of dialogue or in things of negotiation, or in any of those things. Very simple, just as we said with the kidnapped diplomat Alex Saab, we are going to tell them two things: give us back the plane and we want our kidnapped brothers back, Rodríguez insisted in repudiation of the malicious intention of the US government to illegally appropriate the aircraft hijacked in the Republic of Argentina and which belongs to the Venezuelan people.
He also criticized the decision of the Argentine Judiciary to hold the plane and the crew members and hinted that both the system and Argentine Prosecutor Cecilia Incardona were not autonomous.
The Judiciary of Argentina, this prosecutor is not autonomous. She depends on the US Embassy, she is an employee of the US Embassy. Do not come to me with 'independence' of the Argentine Judiciary, that is a lie, he asserted.
The repudiation agreement approved by the Venezuelan Parliament will be sent to the Argentine Embassy in Caracas, it was also announced.