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Airline crew detained over ‘loco’ furor

Sun., Dec. 12, 2010

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 U.S. report released by WikiLeaks.

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

The U.S. 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: “Welcome to Venezuela. Local Chavez time is …”

An American Airlines manager was able to defuse the situation “by promising to put the crew back on the empty airplane as soon as it was refueled and get the captain and crew out of the country immediately,” said the memo, written a day after the incident.


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