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‘US airspace denial for Maduro is payback for offering asylum to Snowden’

The US denying the Venezuelan president the right to fly over Puerto-Rico is an insulting juvenile escapade and yet another example of the incredible clumsiness of the US government towards Latin America, investigative journalist Dave Lindorff told RT.

International affairs commentator and editor of the ‘This Can't Be Happening!’ web outlet says he’s embarrassed to see America’s major Latin American oil trade partner, the unquestionably democratic Venezuela being treated in a ‘kindergarten-level’ way.

On Friday Venezuela’s FM told media an aircraft carrying Maduro to China was denied a path over the commonwealth. However, later in the day the US granted approval for the last-minute flight plan which allowed Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to fly over Puerto Rico on his way to China.

RT:What is your reaction to the US move not giving Venezuelan leader permission to cross the US airspace?

Dave Lindorff: My first reaction is embarrassment. This is such kindergarten-level kind of behavior by a country that has always trumpeted the importance of adhering to international law and access to air and sea rights.

So to deny an elected president of a Latin-American country the right to fly on a plane over US airspace is simply unbelievably juvenile and insulting.

RT:Do you think it may actually be unbelievable in this case? When [Iranian President] Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, one of the biggest critics of the US, was about to speak in the UN people were wondering would he get a US visa – he was granted an American visa [though in September 2012 the US denied visas to 20 Iranian officials hoping to participate in the UN General Assembly].

DL: The US has no right to deny anybody a visa to get to the UN, that’s a part of an agreement of all the members of the UN. The US wanted to have the UN located in New York, so everybody could come to the UN.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran, speaks during the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly September 26, 2012 at UN headquarters in New York. (AFP Photo/Stan Honda)

You know, Fidel Castro came. The other thing I want to say is it’s ironic that the US is denying him (Maduro) the right to fly over Puerto-Rico, which is a US colony. I think if you ask Puerto-Ricans, they would be insulted that the US denied a fellow Latin American to fly over a Latin American state.

It’s just another example of the incredible clumsiness of the US government in terms of its relationship with all of Latin America.

RT:Do you find any significance [in the fact] that Nicolas Maduro was denied airspace on his way to China, a member of the BRICS group?

DL: Not at all. I think what’s strange is that the US gets an enormous amount of its oil from Venezuela, it is the major supplier of oil to the US. The US does essential trading with Venezuela. It is not an enemy of the US, there is no fighting between the US and Venezuela.

Furthermore, it is one of the democratic countries of Latin America, which is supposedly an important thing to the US, supporting democracy. Nobody is contesting the validity of his [Nicolas Maduro] election. So the US is denying an elected president the right to fly over one of its colonies on a trip to China on a state visit. And yet the US allows dictators and military leaders known for slaughtering their own people in Latin America – all those people are welcome to come for a vacation in the US – but not an elected leader of a fellow Latin American nation, denied to fly over one of our colonies.

RT: Both Ecuador and Venezuela offered asylum to (former NSA contractor) Edward and presidents of both countries were denied to fly in US airspace. Do you think there is a link?

DL: Absolutely, this is definitely what the issue is. This petulance about the issue, cancelling plans to meet with President Putin over Snowden, forcing down the plane of the president of Bolivia (Evo Morales) and now denying the right to fly over colonial airspace in control of the US for another president who had offered asylum to Snowden. As an American, I’d like to say this is an embarrassment to see this kind of petulant behavior on the part of my government.