Air Canada stops Venezuela flights over instability
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
ANKARA – Air Canada suspended its flights on Monday to and from Venezuela due to a fragile security situation, which caused the deaths of 29 lives amid ongoing anti-government protests.
The airline will only consider resuming its flights to Venezuela after the political situation stabilizes in the conflict-torn country, according to a notice on its website on Monday.
The protests over high inflation, shortages of basic food and soaring crime figures have entered into its sixth week in the South American country.
"Due to ongoing civil unrest in Venezuela, Air Canada can no longer ensure the safety of its operation and has suspended flights to Caracas until further notice,” the airline’s statement reads.
Jose Guillen Araque, 34, a Venezuelan National Guard captain died on Sunday night after being shot in the head during a demonstration. He is the 29th victim of the clashes between protesters and the security forces and is also the fourth National Guardsmen killed in the clashes. At least 365 others have been injured in the protests.
The wave of protests began in the city of San Cristóbal at the beginning of February before spreading to other parts of the country, including Caracas on February 12. The protesters, who are mainly students from middle class backgrounds, call for a government response to soaring crime figures, an economy in free-fall and growing limitations on freedom of speech.
Over 1,300 people have been detained and a number remain in jail, including Voluntad Popular (Popular Will) opposition party leader Leopoldo López.
Air Canada is the first airline cancelling its flights over the security situation to Venezuela. In late January, the Ecuadorian airline Tame suspended its flights for economic concerns primarily over the government’s tight currency controls.
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