July 03, 2013

Morale's Trip to Moscow Ending in a Diplomatic Cataclysm?


Update 2:

What the European governments are saying:

The French are trying to explain themselves by saying that they were not sure who was in the airplane. Hollande, specifically, said there were "conflicting information" and that "as soon as he knew the Bolivian President was on bord, he stopped the blockade". Now, if that is a lame excuse, it has to be judged by the world. (see also Le Monde's report)

The Spanish government (Rajoy) is assuring that all was a confusion, and that the Spanish government had never blocked the President's airplane to enter Spanish air space. In any case, they are pleading ignorance as to what really happened. Rajoy qualified the confusion as "artificial" because Snowden was not in the plane.

The Germans are calling the whole incident a "diplomatisches Eklat" (diplomatic scandal). They see the incident as a result of the Snowden affair.

Update 1:

In the mean time, one can get the audio from the jet's landing in #VIE.

The OAS has criticized the faux pas.

The "stinking" French have expressed their regret for having closed their air space for Morales, because, "as you know", Le Grand Nation is so appreciative of their friendship with the "Bolivie". (What a ....!)

And now, public officials and bureaucrats are being forced to go to wait for the arrival of Morales. (Hmm.....!)

Evo #Morales' participation in a Summit of natural gas-exporting countries in Moscow, Russia, would have been routine, had his presidential plane (#FAB-001) not been forced to land in #Vienna, #Austria due to the refusal of #Spain, #France, #Portugal and #Italy to allow it to fly through their air space.

Morales was returning from Moscow, where he took part in a summit of natural gas-exporting countries, organized by Putin and where he and Putin agreed on more cooperation and Russian investment. During his visit, Morales expressed his intention to seriously consider granting spy Edward Snowden asylum in Bolivia.

As he was flying back to Bolivia, in the early hours of Tuesday, July 2, Morales found out he was not being allowed to enter the air space of Italy, France, Spain and Portugal. Unable to enter the air space of these countries, which he had to enter on his way to South America, he was forced to improvise. Austria gave permission to land until things were cleared up.

As it turns out, Morales, his crew and several guests (who are those guests?), had to spend 14 hours in the Vienna airport, waiting, as Morales put it: " [for them to] consult their friends". In the mean time, the plane was inspected to see if Snowden was inside.

At the moment, FAB-001 just touched Gran Canaria's ground and is being refuelled and provided assistance.

Now, this has turned into a he said, she said, exchange between the Bolivian government and the rest of those other governments involved in the episode. On the one side, the Bolivian government, and with that I refer to Morales, his accompanying Defense Minister, Ruben Saavedra, Bolivia's envoy to the UN, Sacha Llorenti and other government officials, affirmed that behind the denial was the US administration. They "denounced" that the US had started the "rumor" that Edward Snowden was traveling with Morales. The closing of the air space was a reaction to these news and to pressure by the "empire", Morales said.

On the other side, of course, while not negating that the air space was at least closed for some time, the government's of France, Italy, Portugal and Spain rapidly pointed to the fact that their air space was open. Only Spain negated, for some time, that their air space had been closed for Morales at all.

First of all, there are several questions to be addressed, since we don't know exaclty what happened. First of all, why did Portugal decide to deny Morales make a stop in Lisbon, the way it had been planned in the first place? What technical issues??? One obvious question is, why did France close its air space for the Bolivian plane, knowing they had to go through it in order to head to South America? Another question, what did Italy have to do in all of this? Finally, why did Austria allow a stop? Why not Germany, since the plane turned around anyway? The same goes for Belgium? Netherlands?

One more pressing question is, if it is true that Austria allowed the Morales plane to land because they thought Morales did not have a choice and to let Morales wait until all was clear.......then why did they conduct a search of the air plane? What did they tell Morales so he allowed the search to take place? Did he allow the search to take place?

It all seems to me one coordinated effort to see if Snowden was in that plane. After all, the Europeans routinely collaborate with the US in security and criminal issues. Why wouldn't they do it in this case? Maybe even Austria volunteered to conduct the inspection because France, Spain and Portugal did not want to get into it too deep.

I am afraid we'll never know, unless there is another leak from the Interpol or some other agency like that.

What have we learned? Well, we have learned that US diplomatic pressure IS INDEED something to reckon with. I mean, for France (of all West European countries) to do what the US wants, its got to be some pressure. What else? Well, the US will not stop at anything to get what it wants. We've also learned that when it comes to it, the so called European independence will always lean towards the US. And why not, they are, after all, partners or allies. Finally, what ever happened with the respect heads of states deserve while they travel around the world. Even if it has to do with the travels of a rogue president from a little nation in the third world?

Something else we've learned is that a president of a country does not always have diplomatic immunity, can be diverted in his/her travels at will, and can be searched (i.e. his plane) based on suspicions. Of course, for this to be completely true we would have to witness Obama, Cameron or Merkel, being forced to land in a country X and their planes being searched because there was a suspicion they were aiding a person get to point A to point B.

The more interesting question are however, what will happens once Morales is back in Bolivia? He said he had been called by Corre and Maduro to ask him how he was doing. There were several Latin American diplomats visiting him while he was waiting in the Vienna airport. The President pro-tempore of UNASUR and other South American nations have called for an emergency meeting to talk about a possible response to this problem.

I guess we'll see in the next days of weeks.