MADRID – The European countries involved in this week’s diversion and subsequent search of Bolivian President Evo Morales’s plane would not have acted likewise toward another head of state, a member of Bolivia’s government suggested on Friday.
“Would they have done the same with the plane of (U.S. President Barack) Obama, or that of some other power such as England?” Bolivia’s anti-corruption minister, Nardi Suxo, asked rhetorically during remarks at Madrid’s Casa de America.
The Bolivian presidential aircraft spent 13 hours on the ground in Vienna as Austrian authorities searched the plane for former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who has released documents exposing Washington’s massive surveillance of global telephonic and Internet communications.
Suxo, taking part in a previously scheduled event in the Tribuna Americana series, a project of Agencia EFE and Casa de America, speculated that Morales’ indigenous identity may have had a bearing on his treatment.
“We feel outraged, we feel offended,” she said of the incident, which has sparked indignation in Latin America.
Morales did not arrive back in Bolivia until nearly midnight Wednesday, more than 24 hours after he left Moscow, where he attended a conference of gas-exporting nations.
The diversion to Vienna came after Portugal, France and Italy barred Morales’ plane from their airspace, apparently on suspicion that Snowden was onboard.
Snowden has been stuck in the transit area at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport since June 23 as one country after another has rejected his request for asylum.
Washington, which is charging Snowden under the 1917 Espionage Act, revoked his U.S. passport, leaving him unable to board a commercial flight unless some other government provides him with travel documents. EFE