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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

New Flights in Cuban Air Space Denied

MEXICO CITY -- Despite reports from Havana of new incursions into Cuban air space, U.S. officials say there is no record of any U.S. planes entering the island nation's air space over the weekend.

"The U.S. has demonstrated our ability to monitor the area on both sides of the Cuban 12-mile territorial limit," a Federal Aviation Agency official said Tuesday. "We have no record of U.S. aircraft entering Cuban air space at the time in question."

According to reports from Havana, Cuban Foreign Minister Roberto Robaina complained to foreign diplomats about the flights Tuesday.

One of the incursions reportedly took place over Guanabo Beach, about 24 kilometers east of Havana.

It was the first report of U.S.-based planes making unauthorized flights over the island since Cuban MiGs downed two planes piloted by members of an exile organization Feb. 24.

In Miami, Jose Basulto, leader of the organization, Brothers to the Rescue, said his members made no such flights over the weekend. "We haven't even flown close to Cuba," he said.

There were conflicting reports about the timing of the alleged incursions. Reporters in Cuba quoted diplomats as saying Robaina told them the flights were spotted Saturday and Monday.

A State Department official in Washington said Cuban officials notified the U.S. Interests Section in Havana Saturday that two aircraft penetrated to within five miles of Cuban coast. On Sunday, the Cubans notified Miami air traffic control of another violation that morning, the official said.

The accusation came as representatives of the International Civil Aviation Organization were in Havana to investigate the Feb. 24 incident at the behest of the United Nations Security Council.

The United States charges that the planes shot down were over international waters. Cuba denies it.

Cuba warned last year and again early this year that it might shoot down unauthorized planes and charged that Brothers to the Rescue, which has devoted most of its efforts to rescuing Cuban exiles at sea, planned sabotage on the island. The organization denies that.

Following the downings, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration warned U.S. fliers to avoid unauthorized flights over Cuba, saying violators would be prosecuted and their aircraft might be seized.

Basulto suggested the Cuban government was trying to create a smokescreen. to justify its actions and was "trying to create perceptions that Cuba is being violated from all sides."