July 25, 2013

Constitutionalism and the Analysis of the Bolivian Constitution

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To those who are interested on the study of the latest Bolivian Constitution, I want to recommend a newly published website from the Center for Constitutional Studies (Centro de Estudios Constitucionales, CEC) at the Catholic University in La Paz. The web address of the site is: www.econstitucional.com.

The site is aimed at researchers and academics, most of all, who want to take an annotated, commented and analyzed view of the 2009 Bolivian Constitution. All that, with an interdisciplinary (i.e. not just juridical) approach.

July 10, 2013

Repercussions Are Still Being Felt on the Morales "Incident"

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"It is very clear that this is an event that goes beyond the explanations that have been given here," said the Secretary General. "With all due respect to my European Observer friends, with all the affection that we have for them, there is a serious matter here that has not been clarified."
The incident, said the leader of the hemispheric institution, "leaves a wound.” "And the best way to heal that wound, to mend that wound, is to know what really happened, what really took place," continued the Secretary General. "Where did this news come from that Mr. Snowden was on the plane? Why was it believed?" The best way to clear everything up, he added, "is through transparency."

The quote above is from OAS' Secretary General, Jose Miguel Insulza, and expresses two diplomatic approaches to the Morales incident. On the one side, the Latin Americans want a mea culpa from the Europeans as well as a satisfactory explanation. On the other side, the Europeans want to get over it and go on with business as usual.

In my previous post, I concluded that nothing was going to happen, just because the Latin Americans were much more dependent from the Europeans than the other way around. That is simply because the EU is one of the most important cooperation partners of the region. This cooperation focuses mainly on the stability of the regimes, various forms of democratic deepening and, above all, the fight against poverty. Moreover, the EU is one partner that engages in direct investment in the Latin America region. In this post, I want to balance a bit more that conclusion. I still think nothing serious will happen, e.g. the breaking of diplomatic relations between Bolivia and the four European nations or the European nations really issuing a formal apology and explaining what exactly happened. However, based on the fact that the relationship has indeed suffered damage, there might be some aspects in that relationship on which Latin America might have some leverage.

July 08, 2013

The Morales "Incident" and its Implications for Bolivia's Foreign Policy and Relations

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A good week has passed from that Tuesday when the Bolivian Presidential plane was forced to land in Vienna because France, Spain, Portugal and Italy did not allow it to enter their air space because they had been informed whistle blower Edward Snowden was on board. That evening and the Wednesday after, Morales received overwhelming support, mainly from his Latin American allies, Ecuador, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Argentina, Uruguay and more moderate support from the rest of the Latin American nations. On the Thursday after his return, the UNASUR held an emergency meeting. In this meetings were present all the close allies plus the other nations but with lower ranked diplomats. The meeting was surrounded by a climate of indignation and there were many statements made, by the presidents attending, that strongly judged the behavior of the European nations involved as well as of the US.

There is no question that what happened to Morales was a serious violation to international protocol, at least viewed from the Latin American side. To put things in perspective, this would have never (and will never) have happened to Obama, Hollande, Rajoy or any other west European president. Just to have that clear!

July 05, 2013

The Reasons Why Morales Was Stranded in Vienna

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In the mean time, Morales is already back in Bolivia (arrived Wednesday night) and even the Cochabamba Summit of the UNASUR (Thursday) already took place. While Morales was received as a hero coming back from war, although many of the people who went to wait for him at the El Alto airport were forced to go by the government apparatus, the UNASUR published the Cochabamba Resolution, which basically repudiates what happened to Morales and demands an official apology from the European countries involved.

However, few days later, the facts are starting to surface and some clarity is starting to set in the whole incident. As to what happened, according to Morales' own account during the summit (see Telesur), the plane had a set itinerary even before Morales spoke at the meeting of natural gas-exporting countries in Moscow. Shortly thereafter, Morales was told that Portugal (which was going to be the first stop) had cancelled the permission to land due to "technical issues". Morales instructed his pilot to find another route. This alternative route involved a stop in Spanish soil. According to Morales, as they were approaching French air space, the French government refused to allow the Bolivian presidential plane to enter their air space. Without alternative route, because as you know if you are flying to Spain you have to pass through France, unless you want to circumvent it flying through North Africa, Morales and his pilots decided to look for a place to land because they needed to refuel. They asked Italy, which refused and they lied to Vienna to allow them to land, alleging a technical difficulty. So Morales landed in Vienna and waited 13 or 14 hours to continue his trip home.

July 04, 2013

Morales' Diplomatic Incident in Europe (follow up)

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Update1:

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...........

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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:

July 03, 2013

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

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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.....!)

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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.