July 04, 2013

Morales' Diplomatic Incident in Europe (follow up)



Here is a link to Spanish Television (TVE) where the Spanish Foreign Minister speaks about the Morales incident. He confirms that "they" told him Snowden was in fact on board of the plane. The implications were unacceptable: a) process the asylum application and b) after rejecting the application, having to go through the process of extradition to the US...........

Analyzing what happened to the Bolivian presidential jet leads us to one conclusion: The countries who denied entrance into their air space and subsequent landing to the Bolivian plane were trying to avoid having to consider asylum for Edward Snowden. For example, had the plane landed in Spanish territory, the government would have seen itself obliged by law to formally consider asylum for Snowden, because the excuse is that the person who solicits asylum has to be in Spanish soil.

This is precisely what happened. A report of the Spanish newspaper ABC.es, which was published on July 2, 2013 at 22:36 (while Morales was arriving in Vienna), said that the Spanish government was getting ready to prevent Snowden set foot in Spanish soil. Here is the text of the article and the link:

INTERNACIONALEl Gobierno, en alerta ante el riesgo de que Snowden viaje en el avión de Evo MoralesL. AYLLÓNDía 02/07/2013 - 22.36h
El presidente boliviano pidió permiso para hacer escala esta madrugada en España
El presidente de Bolivia Evo Morales pidió ayer autorización al gobierno español para efectuar una escala técnica en Las Palmas de Gran Canaria procedente de Moscú, donde asisitió al Foro de los Países Exportadores de Gas. Ante la posibilidad de que el exanalista de la CIA, Edward Snowdenviajara con el presidente boliviano y decidiera pedir asilo en territorio español, el gobierno organizó un dispositivo especial de la Policía Nacional para impedir que el exagente bajase del avión presidencial y realizara una petición de asilo a España.
Sin embargo, fuentes de Exteriores aseguraron ayer a ABC que si Snowden llegara a realizar tal petición, «no quedaría más remedio que sustanciarla judicialmente». Las mismas fuentes aseguraron a ABC que Exteriores había recibido todas las garantías del gobierno boliviano de que Edward Snowden no viajaba en el avión presidencial con Evo Morales.
Una situación similar se había vivido unas horas antes con el avión en el que viajaba el presidente venezolano, Nicolás Maduro, que había asistido a la misma cumbre en Moscú. Durante algunas horas se especuló con la posibilidad de que Snowden viajara con Maduro y España se viera obligada a estudiar el problema que se plantearía si el presidente de Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, decidía trasladarlo en su avión a Caracas y pedía hacer escala en España. Finalmente, el presidente venezolano decidió viajar a Bielorrusia, lo que descartó que se produjera ese problema.
Tras conocerse la petición de asilo de Snowden a España, lo mismo que a otra veintena de países, el ministro de Asuntos Exteriores, José Manuel García-Margallo señaló ayer en los pasillos del Congreso que Edward Snowden no tiene derecho a pedir asilo en nuestro país porque no se encontraba en territorio nacional. Indicó que una demanda como esa no tendría «efectos jurídicos» porque la Ley de Asilo y Protección Subsidiaria sólo concede el derecho a pedir el asilo en nuestro país a personas «que están en España».
Como es frecuente que en los vuelos de regreso a Venezuela España sea un punto de escala, las autoridades de nuestro país estudiaron la situación que se podía plantear si EE.UU. reclamaba a España la entrega de Snowden cuando se produjera la parada. Expertos legales consideraron, según indicaron las mismas fuentes, que España no podía acceder a una hipotética petición estadounidense, ya que las Fuerzas de Seguridad no podrían entrar en el avión de Estado de Venezuela y ni siquiera pedir la lista de personas que van a bordo.

The report prooves that the Spanish government was well aware that there was a possibility that Snowden was in Morales' plane and that if the plane landed in Spanish soil, they would have a real problem because they would have to formally consider Snowden's asylum request. 
That is why, the Spanish government is pleading ignorance, confusion and artificiality of the whole incident. This other report of ABC.es lays out the official version. It basically says, the Spanish government "never denied entrance to the plane" and it "never asked to conduct a search of the plane". Rajoy instead says that Morales is always welcomed in Spain and that the most important thing here is "that the Bolivian President is safe and sound".
In my opinion, this points to the fact that indeed these countries denied entrance of the Bolivian plane in their air space and thus de facto denied permission to land (which would have been more difficult to justify) to the plane. The most obvious reason is, since most of these countries are excusing themselves from givin Snowden asylum by saying he has to be present in their territory, that they did not want the plane to land because they really thought Snowden was on board. None of these countries, including France, want to enter in a diplomatic row with the US in these moments. Especially now that the EU has been trying to address the demands of its people to confront the US with the spying scandal resulting from Snowden's revelations about the NSA's work within the EU. 
The Europeans are really caught up in a bad moment because of the sovereign debt crisis. Portugal's government, for example, is about to collapse because its coalition cannot hold. The Spanish economy is also in peril and the government has to deal with double digit unemployment and much higher youth unemployment. France and Germany cannot get a hold of their axis not that socialist Hollande and christian democrat Merkel are not in tune. This is not to excuse the Europeans, but there is a lot at stake here and the IMF (seen as an extended hand of the US) has a lot to say in these times of crisis. Added to that, the Obama administration (let's remember the 2009 Nobel peace prize winner) has made it very clear that any country that dares to give Snowden asylum will have to accept dire consequences from the part of the US.


KN said...

This is a fascinating twist.

I have a question from listening to the conversation between the FAB001 flight and the Vienna control tower: the FAB001 pilot says that they are landing because of a problem with the fuel indicator. Does that factor in at all, was it a coincidence, or was it a face-saving measure?

Miguel A. Buitrago said...

Several interpretations:
a) It might have been a face-saving moment (let's remember at the moment they are looking for a place to land and rather than explain the whole thing, the pilot might have just chosen to use an excuse).
b) It might have been a lie. The pilot might have just wanted to land, period.
c) It might have been true, though I do not see how can it be that the pilot does not know how much fuel he has left, especially since they do such calculations before taking off.
d) The tape might have been cut and posted by an Austrian authority. So therefore we might be missing more information.