HAVANA TIMES — Bolivian President Evo Morales demanded explanations today from the European governments that on Tuesday prevented his plane to fly in their airspace, under the pretext that the American informant Edward Snowden could have traveled with him from Russia.
Morales announced that he will consider legal action against them for what he considers a “kidnapping,” reported DPA news.
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“The governments of Spain, France, Portugal and Italy have to explain to the world why the detention took place,” said Morales at a press conference in Vienna, shortly before his plane finally took off from the Austrian capital, after 13 hours on the ground.
“When back in Bolivia we are also going to see what legal actions we must take to have our rights respected,” he said. “We will study the situation legally, constitutionally and based on international standards.”
Morales called “a kidnapping” the situation he lived after leaving Moscow on Tuesday, when his plane had to land in Vienna after several European countries withdrew the fly over permits extended before leaving the Russian capital.
“I don’t understand them saying, affirming, that they stopped me because I was carrying a man, Edward Snowden,” Morales said. “This man is not a suitcase, not a bug, not a fly that I could sneak on the plane and take him to Bolivia,” he said before taking off finally to the Canary Islands to refuel at the airport in Las Palmas before continuing on to Bolivia.
Morales said that what happened was “a pretext” of the United States and its European partners to “intimidate” and “teach [Bolivia] a lesson” for its policies. “A pretext designed especially to try to silence us in a fight against the economic policies of plunder, against invasions, against policies of domination and intervention,” he said.
“It is not a provocation to Evo Morales, but to Bolivia and all of Latin America,” he said.
“There are good European governments,” he said referring to Austria, whom he thanked for their treatment, “and there are some governments that are more subordinate to the government of the United States.”
The president explained that, after being forced to land in Vienna, in the early morning he received authorization to fly over French airspace first, then from Portugal and Italy. “But Spain has not given us permission until 9:00 in the morning,” he said.
He suggested that the approval by Spain arrived because of the importance the situation was taking in the media. “Spain’s foreign minister said something to my foreign minister: ‘The press is bothering a lot, you have permission to leave,'” said Morales.
Bolivia’s president accused the Spanish authorities of wanting to “control” his plane and reiterated that the Spanish ambassador in Vienna asked him to invite him for a coffee on the grounded plane “to view and inspect it.”
“Of course I cannot do that. Everyone has their dignity. Nobody will force us to impose forms of control on the president,” he said. “I’m not a criminal for them to inspect the plane.”
Later in Madrid, Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, denied that at any time Morales’ aircraft was denied entry into its airspace. He also categorically denied having requested the inspection of the aircraft as a condition to allowing it make a fuel stop in the Canary Islands.
According to Morales, no country that denied permission Tuesday to overfly their territories has given any explanation beyond claiming “technical reasons”.
Bolivia intends to file a complaint at the United Nations for the “diplomatic kidnapping” of its president, said the Bolivian ambassador to the UN, Sacha Llorenti.
“We are going to file a formal complaint (…) We hope to speak with the Secretary General (Ban Ki Moon), who is currently on a trip,” said Llorenti from Geneva in an interview with Bolivia’s radio Patria Nueva.