Last night in Europe, the Edward Snowden Opera continued, and this time it involved Bolivian president Evo Morales. At one point, Morales’ plane was rerouted in Europe because some governments thought that Morales was transporting Snowden back to Bolivia. He wasn’t, and it has caused an international uproar, particularly in Latin America. All you need to do is read what Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner said on Twitter.
The country’s ambassador to the UN, Sacha Llorenti, said the enforced rerouting to Austria was an act of aggression and a violation of international law. The US admitted that it had been in contact with other nations over potential flights by Snowden.
“We will demand appropriate explanations from those countries that submitted to North American imperialism and briefly put President Morales in such a helpless situation,” Llorenti told the state radio Patria Nueva. Bolivia’s vice-president, Alvaro García Linera, said Morales was “kidnapped by imperialism”.
The Guardian also included this:
The Bolivian foreign minister, David Choquehuanca, said France and Portugal were the first to cancel air permits. “They say it was due to technical issues, but after getting explanations from some authorities we found that there appeared to be some unfounded suspicions that Mr Snowden was on the plane. We don’t know who invented this lie. We want to denounce to the international community this injustice with the plane of Evo Morales,” Choquehuanca said.
Diverted from their planned route, pilots feared they would not be able to complete their journey. The plane was eventually cleared to land in Vienna, where Morales was forced to spend 13 hours in humiliating limbo while officials worked to resolve the dispute.
It later took off after Austrian officials said Snowden was not on board. But it was unclear whether any officials in Vienna had searched the plane. Austria’s deputy chancellor, Michael Spindelegger, said Morales “agreed to a voluntary inspection”. But the Bolivian defence minister, Ruben Saavedra, later said Morales had refused entry to the inspectors, and that they had only got as far as the door of the aircraft.
In Bolivia, the treatment of the president stirred up patriotic and anti-imperialist sentiment. Several labour and indigenous organisations planned a welcome rally for the president on his arrival in La Paz on Wednesday evening.