Feb 5, 2023
Venezuela Condemns US for Shooting Down Chinese Balloon
(Bloomberg) -- Venezuela condemned what it called an “attack by the United States against an unmanned civilian aircraft of Chinese origin,” taking a clear side in the growing international dispute after a similar balloon was reported over Latin America.
The US once again “resorts to the use of force” against a device that didn’t represent any military or physical threat to people on the ground, according to a Venezuela Foreign Ministry statement.
Latin American leaders have remained quiet about the presence of a Chinese balloon over their territories while the US has said the discovery in its airspace is part of a broader Chinese spying program. The balloon over the US was shot down Sunday by an F-22 Raptor.
Venezuela’s leftist government, led by President Nicolas Maduro, has had strained relations with the US, and the South American country has been under economic and oil sanctions since 2019. Meanwhile, China has been the main buyer of Venezuela’s sanctioned oil.
Read More: China Moves From Contrite to Confrontational Over US Balloon
Venezuela’s statement makes no mention of the other Chinese surveillance balloon that the US Defense Department said Friday was floating over Latin America. Responding to reports of a balloon over its territory, Colombia’s Air Force issued a statement saying it detected an object flying at 55,000 feet entering the country’s airspace in the north, which was then monitored until it left the airspace.
“In this way, it was possible to determine that this element didn’t represent a threat to national security and defense, as well as air safety,” Colombia’s Air Force said.
Latin American media reported the balloon flying over Costa Rica, Colombia and Venezuela without incident.
(Updates paragraphs three and four with Latin American leaders’ reaction to a Chinese balloon and context about Venezuela-China relations.)
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