CARACAS, (Reuters) – Venezuela protested yesterday at what it said were three illegal flights this month by a Dutch military plane in the Latin American nation’s airspace.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez accused the Netherlands last year of planning “aggression” against Venezuela by letting U.S. forces be based on Dutch islands off its Caribbean coast.
Chavez says the self-governing Dutch islands are in Venezuelan territorial waters and that the Netherlands had been complicit in allowing Washington to use bases on them for spy flights targeting his OPEC country.
The Dutch government has said the presence of about 250 U.S. personnel on Curacao and Aruba was for counter narcotics and surveillance operations over Caribbean smuggling routes.
Several other small Caribbean islands are also part of the Dutch Antilles.
Chavez’s government said the Dutch military flights had been detected between July 4 and July 7 by Venezuelan surveillance and air defense systems, “despite the aircraft using techniques to conceal its position and identification.”
“The Venezuelan government condemns these provocations, which are absolutely contrary to the spirit of good neighbors that should prevail between two border nations, and erode trust between our two countries,” it said in a statement.