Bolivian President Evo Morales suffered the indignity of coming under the spotlight of the US whilst returning from a meeting in Moscow.
The governments of Spain, France, Italy and Portugal to the great embarrassment of their peoples, decided to circumvent International Law (It appears) & diplomatic relations, by denying the Bolivian Presidential Jet (Airforce1) the ability to pass over their airspace whilst heading to Spain for refuelling.
The Bolivian Presidential Jet was effectively left stranded mid-air amid growing concerns regarding its shortage of fuel. The Jet had to re-direct to Vienna Austria, asking permission to land whilst citing fuel concerns. What took place was a request / demand by Austrian authorities to search the plane, which is effectively a flying Embassy or akin to a diplomatic vehicle. The Austrian officials (It appears) searched the Jet looking for whistleblower Edward Snowden, Who it has become evident the United States suspected was on board.
The Reaction from President Morales.
President Evo Morales arrived home saying: Some European countries’ refusal to let his plane enter their airspace because of suspicion it carried fugitive US spy agency contractor Edward Snowden was a provocation aimed at all of South America.
“This was an open provocation toward a continent, not just a president,”
“North American imperialism uses its people to terrify and intimidate us. I just want to say they will never frighten us because we are a people of dignity and sovereignty.” said Morales.
Earlier in the day, Bolivia accused the United States of trying to “kidnap” Morales, after his plane was denied permission to fly over France and Portugal. Bolivian vice-president Alvaro Garcia Linera for his part likened the incident to an “imperialist hijack.”
France apologizes to Bolivia.
France claims they revoked the flying permit because they were not aware it was the president’s plane.
A spokesman for the French Foreign Ministry blamed the incident on “an administrative mishap”, saying France never intended to ban Morales from its airspace and that there were delays in getting confirmation that the plane had fly-over permits.
“The Foreign Minister called his Bolivian counterpart to tell him about France’s regrets after the incident caused by the late confirmation of permission for President Morales’ plane to fly over (French) territory,” French Foreign Ministry’s spokesman Philippe Lalliot said in a statement.
French President Hollande also apologized to Bolivia, claiming that once he was made aware that the jet belonged to President Morales he gave the order to re-open the flight path.
Although, Expatica.com cited Hollande as saying: “There was conflicting information about the passengers who were on board,” noted in Berlin.
This does however raises several questions, for example is French Air traffic control (ATC) and Airport authorities as incompetent as Hollande and the French Foreign Ministry statement appear to suggest?
Because it has been documented many times how French Air traffic control is considered by the world aviation industry as second to none!
The FM spokesperson said “an administrative mishap” was the cause of the incident. Whilst at the same time Hollande appears to be suggesting that French ATC & airport authorities report directly to the President himself regarding unidentified aircraft.
The Reaction from Latin America
Bolivia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Sacha Llorenti Soliz, said: “We have no doubt that it was an order from the White House. By no means should a diplomatic plane with the president be diverted from its route and forced to land in another country.”
There was also condemnation from other Latin American leaders over the plane incident, with heads of state in the 12-nation South American bloc Unasur denouncing the “unfriendly and unjustifiable acts”.
In a statement from Peru’s government, which holds the group’s presidency, Unasur expressed outrage and indignation that the plane was not allowed to land in Portugal and France.
Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa Tweeted: “Latin America demands an explanation,”
“If what happened to Evo does not merit a Unasur summit, I don’t know what does.”
Comment / reaction from Austria
The Bolivian plane was taking Morales home from an energy conference in Moscow when it landed at Vienna airport. Austrian Deputy Chancellor Michael Spindelegger said Morales personally denied that Snowden was aboard his jet and agreed to a voluntary inspection.
“Based on this invitation from Bolivia, a colleague boarded the plane, looked at everything and there was no one else on board,” Spindelegger told reporters.
Morales’ plane eventually left Vienna and landed in Spain’s Canary Islands for refuelling before heading back to Bolivia.
Bolivia to make formal complaint to UN
So far Bolivia has already resolved to take an official complaint to the UN over the incident, alleging that the US was undoubtedly the instigator.
“What’s at stake here is … the dignity of Bolivia and the dignity of Latin America,” said Sacha Llorenti Soliz, Bolivia’s envoy to the UN in Geneva.
The United Nations said in a statement that the secretary-general understood the Bolivian government’s concerns and urged the countries concerned to discuss the matter.
Reaction from the USA
As very much expected the initial reaction was none at all! It appears that the US is pulling the strings whilst at the same time leaving their European puppets to face the music alone.
Independent online reports:
The Obama administration has advised foreign governments that allowing Snowden to land on their territory could seriously damage their relations with the United States, US and European national security sources said.
The sources said the administration believed such lobbying played a role in persuading countries to which Snowden had applied for asylum to reject or not respond to his bid. The United States believes its diplomacy also has caused countries whose leaders publicly expressed sympathy for Snowden to have second thoughts about the matter in private, they said.
On Wednesday, US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that those measures were taken by the individual nations and had nothing to do with any pressure from Washington.
Reaction from Spain
The aircraft carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales home to Bolivia landed in Gran Canaria airport for its scheduled pit stop. Spain earlier gave the plane permission to use Spanish airspace after it was forced to make an emergency landing in Vienna amid rumours US intelligencer leaker Edward Snowden was on board.
Sources said the Spanish ambassador had mediated with Morales “all night” to persuade him to allow the Austrian authorities to examine the plane at the behest of the US, according to Spanish national daily El País.
“Bolivia has again requested overflight and a stopover and we granted it at 9.30am this morning,” or 0730 GMT, a spokesman for the Spanish foreign ministry said.
Morales’s plane had been scheduled to refuel in Portugal, but both Lisbon and then Paris denied over flight.
“Inexplicably we were informed (by Lisbon) that the overflight and landing permission had been cancelled,” A top Bolivian diplomat said.
US washed hand of Bolivian incident! Article in El Pais
This International Incident is the latest in an ongoing saga that has seen the US applying pressure on European countries regarding the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Despite claims by French President Hollande of strained transatlantic relations with the US due to allegations of spying on European countries. France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and indeed Austria were more than willing to create an International incident on behalf of the US.
This goes to prove allegations from some activists that Merkel & Hollande were simply paying lip service to their peoples when claiming to be outraged by US spying on their embassies etc. In fact a recent article in La Monde published today the 05/07/2013, reveals that the Hollande Government intelligence service is operating a very similar spying operation (to the NSA) within France.
Without a doubt the US called on European agencies to deny air space entry to the Bolivian Presidential plane, suspecting (incorrectly) that Edward Snowden was onboard. What is also obvious is that France, Spain, Italy & Portugal colluded to ensure that the Presidential plane could not enter that specific area of western European airspace possibly with the full knowledge that the Presidential jet was in need of refuelling.
Portugal for its part had to have knowledge that the Bolivian Presidential plane was short on fuel as the flight plan (one assumes) would have been logged with ATC in order to schedule refuelling in advance giving an ETA. One cannot simply park a jet in the local filling station and fill her up, buy a Mars bar and continue on with the journey.
Spain had to have prior knowledge that the Bolivian Presidential plane was going to be diverted and also at least the possibility that it would be searched. Because the Spanish ambassador mediated with Morales “all night” to persuade him to allow the Austrian authorities to examine the plane at the behest of the US, according to Spanish national daily El País.
Therefore, even if we are to believe the statement and apology from French President Hollande, this does not account for what amounts to the collective amnesia suffered by Spain, Portugal and Italy. How a collective of four countries could commit “an administrative mishap” (to quote the French FM.) is frankly bewildering.
Total World View
Photo (1). Bolivian Air force 1 (AFP)
Photo (2). President Morales home (Reuters)
Photo (3). Merkel & Hollande (AFP)