Additional reporting by Carlos Camacho.
At least ten trucks with containers and a team of approximately 36 people unloaded the plane of US-sanctioned Iranian airline Qeshm Fars Air, which landed at the Simon Bolivar International Airport in Maiquetía at 4:45 pm on Tuesday, October 27.
The arrival took place less than 48 hours after Donald Trump’s envoy for Iran and Venezuela, Elliot Abrams, warned Maduro and his Iranian allies that the US would eliminate any long-range missiles that Tehran sends to Venezuela.
“The transfer of long-range missiles from Iran to Venezuela is not acceptable to the United States and will not be tolerated or permitted,” said Abrams, who is the Special Representative from State Department for Iran and Venezuela.
The aircraft, a model 747 EP-FAB, is sanctioned by the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the US Treasury Department, OFAC, after being designated as a means of armaments for the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorist organization.
It is not the first Iranian sanctioned aircraft to come from Iran into Venezuela: Mahan Air, an airline the US has linked with Iranian Quds Forces, has flown regularly all through 2020 to two airports in Venezuela, Maiquetia and Punto Fijo.
The unloading got carried out in the remote zone W of runway 10-28 of the airport of Maiquetia. According to sources at the airport, the process is “absolutely controlled by the Vice Presidency of the Republic of Venezuela,” meaning Delcy Rodriguez. Sources indicated do not know what kind of cargo the aircraft brought.
Considered a firebrand even amongst hardcore Chavistas, Rodriguez is the daughter of 1970s urban guerilla fighter Jorge Rodriguez, who kidnapped US businessman William Niehous in 1976. Rodriguez died in police custody during interrogations that same year. Niehous got released after more than three years as a hostage in 1979.