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Latin American authorities criticize incident with the aircraft of President of Bolivia

July 03, 2013, 11:35 UTC+3
The plane of Evo Morales has made ​​an unscheduled landing at the airport of Vienna after the French and Portuguese authorities banned him from flying over their territory
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Evo Morales and Ruben Saavedra, Photo ITAR-TASS

Evo Morales and Ruben Saavedra, Photo ITAR-TASS

WASHINGTON, July 3. /ITAR-TASS /. The Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Jose Miguel Insulza criticized actions of the authorities of European countries in connection with the closure of their airspace for passage of Bolivian President Evo Morales. Head of the organization pointed out that there was a "lack of respect for the country's top leadership."

"The head of the OAS expressed deep disappointment with the decision of aviation authorities in several European countries," said in a statement received on Tuesday in the Washington office of ITAR-TASS. The document stresses that "Insulza demanded of these countries to explain the reasons for that decision."

As noted by the Secretary General of the OAS, "such actions jeopardize /the security/ of the leader of the country" being a member of the organization.

The incident with Morales’s aircraft

Evo Morales was flying from Moscow, where had taken part in the gas exporting countries forum. His plane was flying to La Paz and has made ​​an unscheduled landing at the airport of Vienna after the French and Portuguese authorities banned him from flying over their territory due fears that on board could be the former CIA officer Edward Snowden.

This possibility has been flatly rejected at a press conference by Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bolivia David Choquehuanca Céspedes. “We don’t know who has invented this lie,” said the head of the Foreign Ministry. “But we intend to address the international community to condemn the injustice done to President Evo Morales.” According to him, it is about "discrimination" of the Bolivian leader, as a result of which "the President's life was endangered."

Later, the information that the former CIA officer was in the airplane of Morales was denied by the Foreign Ministry spokesman of Austria.

In Latin America, the actions of France and Portugal were strongly criticized. According to the Bolivian Defence Minister Ruben Saavedra, the U.S. Department of State has pressured "through intimidation some European countries."

"We appeal to all the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean to speak out against this lawlessness,"  said in an interview for Venezolana de Televisión TV channel the Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua. He stressed that the French and Portuguese authorities, not knowing the fuel capacity of the plane of Morales, in fact, "made ​​an attempt on the head of a sovereign state." Venezuelan authorities "impose on the United States government and all governments that refused to allow the passage of the presidential plane, the responsibility for the live of Evo Morales." He also noted that he has being establishing contact with his Latin American counterparts to give a collective response to the flagrant violation of international agreements.

In his turn, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ecuador, Ricardo Patiño said that his country will convene an emergency meeting of the Union of South American Nations /UNASUR/ on the situation. According to him, the actions of France and Portugal are "a huge insult" to Evo Morales. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ecuador hasn’t specified the time and place of the meeting of the Heads of State of South America's largest union yet.

Subsequently, France and Portugal have given permission to the aircraft of Bolivian President to pass through their airspace. This reported the Minister of Defense of Bolivia, cited by local media. Saavedra also said that the Spanish authorities have not removed the ban on crossing its air borders by the plane of Bolivian leader, and the final decision will be made today.

Asylum for Snowden

According to the latest data, Snowden has sent requests for political asylum to authorities in more than 20 countries. Requests for asylum have been sent to Russia, Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, Venezuela, Germany, India, Ireland, Spain, Italy, China, Cuba, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Poland, Finland, France and Switzerland and other countries, according to WikiLeaks.

Evo Morales in an interview with Russia Today has claimed that Bolivia is willing to grant asylum to ex-CIA agent. However, the president reiterated that his country hasn’t received Snowden's petition yet. "If there is a request, we are ready to consider it. We are ready for negotiations," he explained.

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