Photo: Bolivia President Evo Morales
“Mother of God! What a world!” raged Argentine President Cristina Kirchner while Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa railed on Twitter about the “attack” and “affront to our America” urging Latin Americans to take action.
These were some of the reactions when the Bolivian Presidential plane carrying Evo Morales and other high ranking government officials was denied the right to fly into certain European airspace and kept for 13 hours on an Austrian tarmac, late last night.
Morales and his entourage had just concluded diplomatic meetings in Russia and were planning on traversing European airspace to get back home. Just an hour before it was to fly over France it was told it could not.
Authorities believed alleged U.S. spy and NSA leaker Edward Snowden was aboard the flight. He is currently holed up in a Russian airport waiting for asylum from whoever will take him.
In total France, Portugal and Spain “canceled” flight authorization for the plane forcing them to land in Vienna to refuel. Vienna only cleared the plane for flight and landing because it had no fuel. Morales in turn had to agree to the “search” - who knew a search for an underfed, pale computer hacker would take 13 hours?
No Snowden! No Surprise!
Bolivia is not one of the countrys Snowden has apply to for asylum, says Bolivian officials. Could it be because Bolivia is one the poorest nations in South America with an average annual income set at $1,630 and 60 percent of its people living below the poverty line? Could this be the same reason a head of state was forced to beg for gas for the presidential plane?
Bolivia’s Foreign Minister stated what many are feeling in South America: “It’s discrimination against our president. The life of our president has been put at risk over unfounded suspicions.” Bolivia’s Defense Minister Ruben Saavedra labeled France and Portugal “colonists.”
Peru’s President Ollanta Humala has called for an investigation and an explanation of this diplomatic affront. It is doubtful that if Russian President Putin was flying over European space his plane would be denied flight clearance and be forced to a strip search – they like Bolivia have indicated support of alleged spy Snowden.
The action is unprecedented in diplomatic circles. A duly elected President was forced to spend the night at an airport’s VIP lounge eating dried crackers and old peanuts all while “being held hostage” according to Morales himself.
South Americans are also enraged that Spain reportedly had to check with the U.S. to see whether to allow the plane to fly over on the way home. Spain unlike the other European countries share a language with Bolivia and a long history.
The Bolivian government believes the airspace blockade and forced search was all orchestrated by the U.S.
Officially the U.S. has no comment.
The Bolivian Presidential plane left Vienna this morning around 6 am EST.