23rd Oct 2016

Latin American leaders slam US, EU on Morales flight

Bolivia’s president Evo Morales has threatened to shut down the US embassy in La Paz after his plane was forced to land in Austria amid suspicions NSA whistleblower was on board.

Morales says the CIA orchestrated a flight ban over four EU member states, diverting his return route to Bolivia from Moscow early Wednesday (3 July) morning.

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  • Bolivia's President threatened to sever ties with the United States (Photo: Presidencia de la Republica del Ecuador)

“We met with the leaders of my party and they asked us for several measures and if necessary, we will close the embassy of the United States,” he told the leaders of Venezuela, Ecuador, Argentina, Uruguay and Suriname on Thursday (4 July) at a summit at Cochabamba, known for its coco-leaf farming.

The leaders ended the summit with a joint-statement, condemning France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal.

All four-member states refused to allow Morales’ Falcon 900 to enter into their respective airspace.

Critics of the air ban say the president was "virtually kidnapped" and that the Europeans broke international laws at the request of the Americans.

Bolivia’s ambassador to the United Nations called it an act of aggression.

The South American leaders at the Cochabamba summit also weighed in.

“Europe broke all the rules of the game,” said Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduros, reports Reuters.

“We're here to tell President Evo Morales that he can count on us. Whoever picks a fight with Bolivia, picks a fight with Venezuela,” he added.

Uruguayan President Jose Mujica said: “We deserve respect, and when one of our governments is insulted we feel the insult throughout Latin America.”

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez asked EU countries for an apology.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro slammed Spain’s requests to board and search Morales’ plane while stuck at the Vienna international airport.

But not all South American leaders expressed the same vitriol.

Chile, Peru and Colombia sent no delegates or leaders to Cochabamba.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos tweeted his solidarity with Morales.

The United States, for its part, declined to comment.

France sent an apology letter and Spain said it did not shut down its airspace.

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