Bolivian President's Jet Rerouted On Suspicions Snowden Could Be On Board; Multi-Country Outrage Ensues
from the we-are-all-Bolivians dept
The Snowden saga continues to deliver surprising twists and turns that may well have important geopolitical knock-on effects. The latest involves the President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, whose country is rumored to be willing to offer political asylum to Snowden. Here’s what happened, as reported by The Guardian:
Bolivia reacted with fury after a plane carrying the country’s president home from Russia was diverted to Vienna amid suspicions that it was carrying the surveillance whistleblower, Edward Snowden.
France and Portugal were accused of withdrawing permission for the plane, carrying the president, Evo Morales, from energy talks in Moscow, to pass through their airspace.
Both Bolivia and Austria deny that Snowden is on board, but no one has been allowed to check. Since being forced to land in Vienna, Morales has now been given permission by France and Portugal to overfly their territory, but not by Spain, which had also refused. The simultaneous revocation of permission to pass over these countries looks rather suspicious. The Bolivian defense minister, Ruben Saavedra, who was on the flight, has no doubts about who is behind it:
“This is a hostile act by the United States State Department which has used various European governments.”
The Bolivian Vice-President said they had been “kidnapped by imperialism” in Europe.
That framing has now been taken up by other South American governments, who have expressed their outrage at the insult to Bolivia and hence their region. As The Guardian reports in an update on the Bolivian story:
Argentinian president Cristina Kirchner has tweeted that she has been advised that Peruvian president Ollanta Humala will call a meeting of the Union of South American Nations [UNASUR] to discuss ongoing events.
And — ironically — Ecuador has re-entered the story after trying to distance itself from Snowden:
Rafael Correa, the president of Ecuador, has also railed against what he called an “affront to our America,” and called on his fellow South American presidents to “take action”.
Posting on Twitter, Correa wrote: “Decisive hours for UNASUR! Either we graduated from the colonies, or we claim our independence, sovereignty and dignity. We are all Bolivia!”
There is clearly a lot of political grandstanding and opportunism here. But there seems no doubt that this latest development will sour relationships between the US and South American nations, at least for a while. Spain and Portugal also come out of this badly, and are likely to lose influence among their former South American colonies. This latest incident shows once again the impact of Snowden’s actions, which continue to cause major ripples throughout the entire diplomatic world.