CLARIN (Argentina), EL ESPECTADOR (Colombia)
BOLIVIA - Outrage is spreading across Latin America after the official plane of Bolivian President Evo Morales was blocked earlier this week from the airspace of several European countries because of suspicion that ex-CIA technician Edward Snowden was on board.
Along with Morales, Argentina’s Cristina Kirchner, Ecuador’s Rafael Correa, Surinam’s Dési Bouterse, Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro, and Uruguay’s José Mujica will be attending an emergency meeting Thursday of Unasur (Union of South American Nations) in Cochabamba, Bolivia, El Espectador reports.
The leaders will be discussing how to react to the Tuesday incident when Italy, France, Portugal, and Spain denied Morales’ plane permission to enter their airspace after rumor spread that it was returning to Latin America from Moscow with Snowden was on board. Washington is pursuing the 30-year-old former American intelligence consultant after he revealed to the press details of a secret surveillance program.
Morales, who landed back home early Thursday, had been forced to stay for most of the day in Vienna, after his plane was rerouted following the blockage. Clarín reports that Morales has denounced the incident as a “kidnapping” and a “sabotage plan” on the part of the United States. He blamed American influence over its European allies.
Morales also emphasized that the President of a nation has absolute immunity and that this represents a severe diplomatic violation, and that he is no “common criminal."
Bolivia's President Evo Morales (Wikimedia Commons)
Argentina’s Kirchner joined Correa’s outrage, calling the incident a “humiliation” towards a sister nation and the continent as a whole, Clarín reports. Kirchner characterized it as typical of “old Europe” and a sign of the “vestiges of a colonialism that we believed had been fully overcome.”
On Thursday, the French government apologized, with President Francois Hollande assuring that once he found out the Bolivian President was on board, he changed the order to deny the plane’s passage, Clarín reports.
El Espectador reports that the United States denies that it had a role in the individual governments’ decision to block Morales’ flight.