Alex Contreras Baspineiro
International Blockade against the President of Bolivia Evo Morales
Alex Contreras Baspineiro
The President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Evo Morales Ayma, has once again been spread like wildfire across the international headline news. Seven years ago, the "first indigenous president" in the continent made a tour of a number of countries in the world. But this time he was "kidnapped" or held because four European countries prevented the presidential aircraft, in mid flight, from entering their air space.
"This is not a provocation against Evo Morales, but against Bolivia and all of Latin America. It's an aggression against Latin America on the part of some European countries," said the Bolivian President concerning the forced stopover in the Vienna (Austria) airport due to suspicions that the ex-security agent of the U.S. government, Edward Snowdon, was travelling in the presidential aircraft.
The head of the Bolivian State was obliged to remain some fourteen hours in the Austrian airport, where he made an emergency landing because France, Portugal, Italy and Spain revoked their authorization of the use of airspace and airports in his return from Russia to La Paz.
In Moscow (Russia) he had taken part in the Second Summit of the Forum of Gas Exporting countries.
Evo Morales Ayma, in his intervention in the event, advocated the defence of natural resources, considered as the property of peoples, insisted that they should be administered by States and asked for technological and scientific assistance to benefit nations involved and to attend to the international demand for this energy source.
Defending and sharing the experience of the nationalization of hydrocarbons, the Head of State pointed out: "Those countries -- especially those of Latin America and the Caribbean -- where natural resources are appropriated by the State, are administered by the State and belong to the people, come permanently under attack, since historically our resources were looted; and the experience of Bolivia is how to recuperate these resources for the benefit of the peoples", he said.
The Organization of American States (OAS) demanded explanations from the European countries that prevented the presidential aircraft from flying over their territories, since they had placed the life of the president "at risk", while the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) called an extraordinary meeting to analyze the situation, and the Andean Community of Nations (CAN) condemned the action since it violates international agreements.
In the name of the OAS Miguel Insulza stated today that the European countries involved should provide explanations as to why they placed the life of the President of Bolivia at risk. "Nothing justifies such a disrespectful action against the highest authority of a country", he said.
While the UNASUR countries prepare to celebrate an emergency meeting called by the President of Peru, Ollanta Humala, his Argentinian counterpart Cristina Fernández de Kirchner wrote by Twitter: "Ollanta will call a meeting of UNASUR. The time in Peru is 22h25. Tomorrow will be a long and difficult day. Keep calm, they can't pull this off."
After exchanging with the Bolivian Head of State on preventing the Presidential Aircraft from inspection, Fernández wrote: "Simply perfect, stand strong Evo.
From Uruguay, President José Mujica expressed indignation for the humiliation, while the head of Ecuadorian diplomacy, Ricardo Patiño, said that this, to say the least, is a tremendous offence, and his Venezuelan counterpart, Elías Jaua, affirmed that his country regards the international aggression as being against itself.
"I believe that this is a pretext to frighten me, intimidate me, to teach me a lesson, and above all, to attempt to silence us in our struggle against the policies of looting, against invasions and domination... I cannot understand that France, Italy, Portugal and Spain claim that I was detained because I was giving a lift to one Mr. Edward Snowden", remarked the President of Bolivia.
Article 40 of the 1961 Vienna Convention stipulates out that "if a diplomatic agent passes through or is in the territory of a third State, which has granted him a passport visa if such visa was necessary, while proceeding to take up or to return to his post, or when returning to his own country, the third State shall accord him inviolability and such other immunities as may be required to ensure his transit or return."
In face of this violation of the Vienna Convention, from around the national territory there were voices of rejection, protest and mobilizations.
Resuming this sentiment, Vicepresident Alvaro García Linares described the retention of the Head of State as a kidnapping tied to U.S. imperialism.
"We want to tell Bolivians, we want to tell the whole world that President Evo Morales, the Bolivian President, today has been kidnapped in Europe; we want to tell the peoples of the world that President Evo Morales has been kidnapped by imperialism and is being held in Europe", he declared.
Accompanied by the full ministerial cabinet, García Linero denounced the flagrant violation of the Vienna Convention concerning official flights and the use of air space and airports previously authorized.
The Bolivian dignitary also denounced an attempt at blackmail on the part of a diplomatic official of Spain to bring Morales Ayma to accept -- against international norms -- a search of the official Bolivian aircraft.
"I could not allow a search of the aircraft because I am not a criminal and you know that this is an official aircraft according to international norms. The President has inviolable immunity, his right to go to any part of the world. I refused on a question of dignity, I am obliged to defend our dignity and sovereignty, since this is not an offence against the President, it is an offence against a whole people, against a whole region such as Latin America", said Evo Morales Ayma as he reassumed the flight to the heart of the Latin American Continent.
The Minister of External Affairs of Austria, Michael Spindelegger, assured that, before the exit of the Bolivian President, the airport police of Vienna undertook a "voluntary inspection" authorized by the pilot and verified that Snowden was not on board the aircraft.
"It is an important piece of information for everyone that there was no stowaway on the presidential aircraft. It was a question of a persistent rumour that had caused problems on a world scale", lamented Spindelegger.
From Brussels, the European Commission confirmed that it is within the competence of every member State to decide whether to accept or reject access to air space, according to the community spokesperson on Transportation, Helen Kearns.
During his life as a union leader, Evo Morales Ayma fought against the US DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) in coca producing areas and once installed as President, expelled the U.S. Ambassador as well as entities of the US.
What is certain is that the arbitrary decision of the authorities of France, Italy, Portugal and Spain to deny their airspace to the Bolivian Presidential aircraft has generated a unanimous protest in all social sectors of the national territory and in addition a huge repercussion at a world level, because not only were international conventions violated but this amounted to an attack against what is most sacred: the sovereignty and dignity of a whole people...
- Alex Contreras Baspineiro is a Bolivian journalist