South American Leaders Protest Rerouting of Bolivian Plane

By:  Warren Mass
South American Leaders Protest Rerouting of Bolivian Plane

South American leaders demanded an explanation and an apology from four European nations after they closed their airspace to the plane carrying Bolivia’s President Evo Morales.

South American leaders invited to attend a special summit in the Bolivian city of Cochabamba released a joint statement on July 4 demanding an explanation and an apology from the governments of France, Italy, Portugal, and Spain, after the nations closed their airspace to the plane carrying Bolivia’s President Evo Morales (shown in front) two days earlier. Officials in the four nations had suspected that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was on board Morales’ plane.

Following a 14-hour layover in Vienna, Austria, Morales continued on to Bolivia — where he received an enthusiastic welcome at the La Paz airport on Wednesday night.

Morales was returning from a summit in Moscow, where, in an interview with Russia Today, he indicated that he would be willing to consider a request from Snowden for asylum in Bolivia. However, the Bolivian leader said he never saw Snowden in Moscow, and that Bolivia has not received a formal request for asylum for him. Snowden is believed to be waiting in the transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport, pending approval of his asylum request from one of 20 countries he has applied to.

“United we will defeat American imperialism. We met with the leaders of my party and they asked us for several measures and if necessary, we will close the embassy of the United States,” USA Today quoted Morales’ statement at the summit. “We do not need the embassy of the United States.”

The Indian newspaper The Hindu reported that Morales has blamed the U.S. government for pressuring European countries to refuse to allow his plane to fly through their airspace, describing this action as a violation of international law. 

The U.K. Guardianand other sources reported that Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Garcia-Margallo said on Spanish National Television that Spain and other European countries were told that Snowden was aboard the Bolivian presidential plane, revealing that “they told us that the information was clear, that he was inside.”

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