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June 22, 2022
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Argentine tourists stranded in Cuba because of a suspicious Venezuelan-Iranian crew

Argentine tourists stranded in Cuba because of a suspicious Venezuelan-Iranian crew

More than a hundred Argentine tourists are desperate in Varadero due to the refusal of Buenos Aires to allow the takeoff of a plane leased by Cubana de Aviación to the Venezuelan company Estelar. The case is a consequence of the retention of another ship, with a Venezuelan-Iranian crew, in Argentina since June 8 for possible links to terrorism and that is generating a conflict between Caracas and Buenos Aires.

“We are totally helpless, without response, without explanations of any kind in Varadero since June 14, 2022, which was our original date of return to Argentina by Cubana de Aviación and its subsequent flight rescheduling dates, which were all respectively cancelled” , tells one of the travelers to the press of his country.

Cubana de Aviación is assuming the lodging expenses of Argentine tourists, but desperation is spreading among those who must return to work and, even more so, among those who are beginning to perceive the consequences of being on the island more than visiting.

Cubana de Aviación is assuming the lodging expenses of Argentine tourists, but desperation spreads among those who must return

“I am one of those 100 stranded Argentines, my mother is running out of medication here, we prepare to be 14 [días]not 21 as we already have”, claims another passenger on social networks. According to the Argentine press, Havanatur Varadero promised to look for medicines for travelers in similar situations, since there are people with heart conditions or hypertension, but the shortage of this type of drugs in Cuba can be decisive.

The Argentines lament the lack of explanations about their situation and cannot understand why their consulate does not take them out of the island through Aerolineas Argentinas or why Cubana de Aviación does not rent another company that can obtain permission from Buenos Aires to fly, possibly ignoring the liquidity problems of the state company.

The Argentine press affirms that the ship that had to return to the Argentines is a Boeing 737-300 registration YV630T that supposedly covered the route between Cuba and Argentina on Saturday, June 11, but on the 14th, the day that it had to make the trip back of this group, the flight was cancelled, as were the rescheduling for the 16th and 18th. This Tuesday there was a new departure attempt, but there is no news that the plane obtained permission, which would add new stranded tourists.

The ship with this registration, operated by Estelar, however, appears as stored since August 2021 according to the international air traffic pages, although as of this Tuesday it appears as operational covering 3 daily round trip flights between Barinas and Puerto Cabello (Venezuela) . There are also no routes between Buenos Aires and Varadero, although Cubana does have a route (CU-361) from the Ezeiza airport, in the Argentine capital, and Cayo Coco, which, on its return, stops in Havana and has not flown on June 13, 15 and 20.

The newspaper ‘Clarín’ contacted official Argentine sources who confirmed that the permits for the plane to fly to the country have not been granted.

In any case, the information transmitted to passengers by the airline last Friday was: “Cubana de Aviación informs that it is canceling its operation to Buenos Aires scheduled for tomorrow, Saturday, June 18 at 3:25 AM local time, taking into account that Until the time of writing this email 5:32 PM today, Friday, June 17, the operational permits have not been obtained and there is a refusal to supply fuel for the Aircraft contracted by Cubana de Aviación to the Venezuelan airline Estelar.

The newspaper Clarion Contact with official Argentine sources that confirmed that the permits for the plane to fly to the country have not been granted.

Another of the passengers indicated that he had spoken with the Consulate. “The consul told us that the problem they have is that they should have presented documentation, because they intended to return us on a flight that was not authorized in Argentina to be able to fly on our soil. We have no news, no one communicates with us. No we know when we’re leaving, how we’re leaving or if we’re leaving. We’re in trouble and worried,” he said.

The conflict between Argentina and Venezuela began two weeks ago when another plane, coming from the Mexican city of Querétaro, after a stopover in Venezuela and bound for the Ezeiza international airport, took off to go to Uruguay to refuel and had to return because Montevideo denied landing.

Uruguay’s decision prompted Argentine authorities to review the cargo after several opposition deputies requested a report. The plane was bringing auto parts from Mexico, but what was most surprising was the crew, which was unusually large for a cargo plane: 14 Venezuelans and, more alarmingly, five Iranians. Given this situation and the risk of being sanctioned by the United States, the Argentine oil companies did not want to supply fuel either, so the cargo Boeing 747 Dreamliner remains at the Buenos Aires airport.

This aircraft was owned by the Iranian company Mahan Air until last January and currently belongs to Emtrasur, a subsidiary of the Venezuelan Consortium of Aeronautical Industries and Air Services (Conviasa), companies that are sanctioned by the United States Department of the Treasury.

The Argentine Justice investigates possible links between the crew and international terrorism, since one of its members, the Iranian Gholamreza Gashemi, has the same name as a member of the Quds Force

The Argentine Justice is investigating possible links between the crew and international terrorism, since one of its members, the Iranian Gholamreza Gashemi, has the same name as a member of the Quds Force, a division of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, including by the US on the list of terrorist organizations and accused of being behind the attack on an Israeli center in Buenos Aires in 1994, with a balance of 85 dead and 300 wounded.

The number two of the Chavista regime, Diosdado Cabello, expressed in a press conference that he hopes that the situation “is resolved” for the “good of friendship between peoples” and that the plane “returns (to) where it has to return, keep doing the work you do, work and keep working, helping”.

“How do you think the medicines get to Venezuela? How do we bring them? he added.

This Tuesday the Argentine Justice urged to investigate in depth the crew after the first investigations left “several traces” that “impose the need” to continue.

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