Venezuela halted flight crew in 2008 over Chavez remark

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
December 12, 2010 11:09
1 minute read.

 
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CARACAS, Venezuela — The captain and crew of an American Airlines flight were briefly detained in 2008 after a crew member advised passengers to set their watches to "local Chavez time" upon arrival in Caracas, according to a confidential US report released by WikiLeaks.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in 2007 created a new time zone for Venezuela, moving the clock back a half hour on a permanent basis.

The US Embassy report, dated Oct. 1, 2008, and released Friday, said there appeared to be a misunderstanding over one crucial word in the crew member's announcement: "local" vs. "loco" — which means crazy in Spanish.

The embassy said one passenger, who was a friend of pro-Chavez lawmaker Carlos Echezuria Rodriguez, thought the crew member said "loco Chavez time."

American Airlines local manager Omar Nottaro reported to the embassy that the crew member announced to passengers: "Welcome to Venezuela. Local Chavez time is ..."

The memo, which was written a day after the incident, said the airline manager's account was contradicted by that of Venezuelan immigration authorities, who wrote in their report that the crew member had announced "the hour of the crazy Chavez and his women."

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