Nation & World News

Morales Returns To A Latin America Fuming Over Plane Snub

By Bill Chappell on July 4th, 2013

Bolivian President Evo Morales is scheduled to land in his home country late tonight, a day after his return journey from meetings in Moscow was disrupted when several European nations withdrew permission for his plane to fly through their airspace.

The delay of more than 13 hours reportedly stemmed from suspicions that Edward Snowden, the former U.S. intelligence worker who leaked secret data, might have been aboard the plane.

Morales was forced to land at an airport in Vienna, Austria, where his plane landed after France, Spain, Portugal, and Italy reportedly refused permission to fly over their territories, as The Two-Way reported last night.

“Austrian officials said Morales’ plane was searched early Wednesday by Austrian border police after Morales gave permission,” the AP reports. “Bolivian and Austrian officials both say Snowden was not on board.”

“We’re talking about the president on an official trip after an official summit being kidnapped,” Bolivia’s U.N. Ambassador Sacha Llorenti Soliz told reporters in Geneva, according to Britain’s The Independent.

Speaking to reporters at Vienna’s airport last night, Morales used similar language, adding that the governments of France, Italy, Portugal and Spain had made a mistake of historic proportions.

French President Francois Hollande sought to clarify his government’s role in the incident Wednesday, saying at a press conference in Berlin that there had been confusion over the aircraft and its occupants.

“There was contradictory information about the identity of the passengers aboard one or two aircraft, because there was also a doubt about the number of planes that wanted to fly over France,” he said, according to the AP. “As soon as I knew that it was the plane of Bolivia’s president, I immediately gave my authorization for the overflight.”

On his way back to Bolivia, the plane carrying Morales stopped Wednesday afternoon to refuel in the Canary Islands, a territory of Spain. He is currently in Brazil, taking on fuel, reports Bolivia TV.

Many Latin American governments expressed their outrage over the incident Wednesday, calling for a full explanation of why the president of a sovereign nation would be refused passage.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff expressed her government’s “outrage and condemnation” over the incident, reports El Dia.

“(These are) vestiges of a colonialism that we thought were long over,” Reuters quotes Argentine President Cristina Kirchner saying. “We believe this constitutes not only the humiliation of a sister nation but of all South America.”

The 12-nation South American group UNASUR denounced the “unfriendly and unjustifiable acts,” Reuters adds.

South American heads of state including the leaders of Ecuador, Uruguay, Argentina, and Venezuela plan to gather Thursday in Cochabamba, Bolivia, in a show of support for Morales, according to FM Bolivia and other news outlets.

The incident has also raised the ire of the Organization of American States, whose secretary general, José Miguel Insulza, issued a statement demanding an explanation.

Insulza expressed his “deep displeasure with the decision of the aviation authorities of several European countries that denied the use of airspace to the plane carrying the President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Evo Morales, from Moscow to La Paz,” adding that he believes “nothing justifies an act of such lack of respect for the highest authority of a country.

Asked whether the U.S. played a role in the diversion of Morales’ plane, U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki refused to get into the specifics of the question, saying only that “U.S. officials have been in touch with a broad range of countries.”

Psaki said she would not identify those countries, with which U.S. officials have been in touch in the past 10 days.

As reporters persisted in asking if U.S. officials asked European countries to divert the Bolivian president’s plane, Psaki said, “I would point you to those specific countries, to answer that question.”

As the questioning grew a bit more contentious, Psaki said simply, “We’ve broadly asked for Mr. Snowden to be returned.”

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

This entry was posted in News from NPR. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.

 

More Stories in News from NPR

Yemen's President Abdel Rabbo Mansour Hadi speaks during the opening meeting of the Arab Summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, south of Cairo, on Saturday.

Arab Airstrikes Against Yemen Reportedly Could Continue For Months

At a summit in Egypt, the embattled Yemeni President Abdel Raboo Mansour Hadi also described Houthi rebels as “puppet of Iran.”


Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan, left, and opposition candidate Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, right, prepare to sign a renewal of their pledge to hold peaceful "free, fair, and credible" elections, at a hotel in the capital Abuja, Nigeria, on Thursday.

Amid Violence, Nigerians Go To The Polls To Choose A President

Incumbent Goodluck Jonathan faces off against former military dictator Muhammadu Buhari in what is being described as the closest contest in the history of the West African country.


A German police investigator carries a box after searching an apartment believed to belong to the crashed Germanwings flight 4U 9524 co-pilot Andreas Lubitz in Duesseldorf, on Thursday.

Pilot Who Downed Airliner Vowed ‘To Do Something’ To Be Remembered

Andreas Lubitz is believed to have locked the pilot of the Germanwings Flight 4U 9524 out of the cockpit before deliberately putting the aircraft into a fatal descent.


Saturn has a rocky surface, but it's deep beneath the clouds. That makes it hard to tell exactly how long the day is.

A Day’s A Day The World Around — But Shorter On Saturn

Researchers have finally determined the length of a day on the ringed planet (gas shrouds any landmarks, so it was tough). Precision matters: A faster spin influences the speed of surface winds.


A stone memorial, surrounded by flowers, has been placed near the site in the French Alps where a Germanwings passenger jet crashed on Tuesday (March 24, 2015). Investigators believe the jet's co-pilot brought it down deliberately.

Germanwings Crash: ‘Suicide’ Doesn’t Seem To Tell The Story

Though investigators say it looks like the co-pilot deliberately brought down the jet, killing himself and 149 others, there are reasons not to use that word.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Underwriting Payments