Today the Homeland Security Department issued a warning about the fact that it has been unable to check security procedures at Venezuelan airports from which flights go to the US. This is due to the lack of cooperation of the Venezuelan Government. I was planning to write about it, but Veneconomy sent this opinion piece this afternoon that simply said it all:
Direct Flight to backwardness by Veneconomy
For many years, Venezuela was given a Category II rating by the US aviation authorities, which meant that
Venezuelan airlines were prevented from flying to the United States.
In 2006, after making many adjustments to meet international standards,
complying with endless technical requirements, and undertaking extensive
modernization in the area of infrastructure, the National Civil Aviation
Institute (INAC) culminated a long process for recertifying Venezuela in
Category I, as a result of which domestic airlines were once again able to fly
their routes to the United States under the Venezuelan flag and with Venezuelan
crews and Venezuelan registered aircraft.
However, this progress seems to be about to suffer a setback.
This weekend, the US Department of Homeland Security reported that it had been
impossible to determine whether or not Venezuelan airports and direct flights
between Venezuela and the United States
complied with the security rules established by the International Civil
Aviation Organization (ICAO). According to press reports, this impediment is
apparently due to the fact that the Venezuelan authorities have refused to
allow the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to inspect Maracaibo and Valencia airports alleging that,
under international security standards, the only agency entitled to conduct
these inspections is the ICAO, which has a visit scheduled for January 2009.
VenEconomy respects the
INAC’s legal right to reject the visit by representatives of the TSA. But it
costs nothing to be polite, and Venezuela
has always extended this courtesy to US government officials in the past.
However, according to Nelson Bocaranda, the government’s intolerance has reach
such a pitch that the INAC has threatened to eliminate some flights of US airlines
between the US and Venezuela.
VenEconomy considers that an
inspection of this type would be most timely at this moment, when there is a
clear conflict of interests in this area in Venezuela. A single person occupies
the presidency of the INAC, the Executive’s Coordinated Air Transportation
Service (SATA), and the airline Conviasa. In other words, the supervisee is the
same person as the supervisor.
For example, this three-hatted president would have to answer questions from
the US security representatives such as: Why did you allow the Conviasa
aircraft, which crashed a few days ago in Ecuador, to do a night flight when
international standards indicate that, if an aircraft does not meet all air
navigation standards, it should only fly during the daytime? or, Why, if it was
a well-known secret that some pilots took illegal shortcuts when departing from
MéridaAirport, the INAC did not take the necessary measures? Had they done so,
perhaps the accident of the Santa Bárbara Airline, in which so many lives were
lost, could have been prevented.
In short, it seems that the US
transportation security authorities are sending a very important message on the
state of airport security in Venezuela.