(posted July 2, 7:20 p.m.)- Nicaragua’s Sandinista government is energetically condemning what it calls the “criminal actions” of France and Portugal, which on Tuesday denied Bolivian President Evo Morales from entering their national airspace, forcing the South American leader to change course and make an unscheduled landing in Austria.
Morales’ plane, which departed Moscow en route to Bolivia, was forced to land unexpectedly in Austria after France and Portugal denied his presidential plane the right to enter their airspace amid rumors that it was smuggling former U.S. security contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden, who is seeking political asylum wherever he can find it. Bolivian officials later denied the rumors as “unfounded” and demanded an explanation from the governments of France and Portugal.
In media statements, Bolivia’s Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca said he didn’t know how the smuggling rumors started and accused France and Portugal of violating international law by rescinding the right to air traffic for an official flight plan that had been previously approved before takeoff. Bolivia’s defense minister later told CNN en Español that he believes the smuggling rumors were started by the U.S. government.
In Nicaragua, first lady Rosario Murillo interrupted the broadcast of her family’s media outlets to condemn the “criminal attempt” against Morales, arguing that the move “put at risk the life of the Bolivian president.”
Murillo blamed the event on prevailing European attitudes of “neocolonial and imperial arrogance.” She called actions against Morales, one of Nicaragua’s political allies in the ALBA bloc of nations, “intolerable.” Murillo called on all of Latin America and the Caribbean to unite in condemnation.
“Never before have we seen this. Never before. And hopefully never again,” Murillo said.
At press time, Morales was still in Austria trying to figure out another flight plan to return to Bolivia.