July 4, South American nations condemned the European Union countries that barred the aircraft carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales from entering their airspace on the previous day. Morales’ plane was forced to land in Vienna due to suspicions that American whistleblower Edward Snowden might be on board. Inspection of the plane on-ground in Austria failed to produce him or any other suspicious person.
Snowden had requested political asylum in Bolivia but had not received a response at that time. Since the diplomatic debacle however, Snowden now has been offered asylum by Bolivia, Venezuela and Nicaragua.
Immediately following the forced landing of Morales’ plane, the presidents and delegations of member countries of the Union of South American Nations assembled in Cochabamba, Bolivia where they condemned the forcing-down of a plane transporting Morales in Europe. In a joint statement, they called on the governments of France, Italy, Portugal and Spain to explain and apologize for their participation in an apparently orchestrated action obstructing the free passage of Morales in his role as head of state. The statement echoed widespread international press and media coverage characterizing EU nation actions as a Western and U.S.-orchestrated act of piracy.
In issuing the “Cochabamba Declaration” UNASUR characterized the impeding of Morales’ return flight to Bolivia as an unfriendly, abusive, hostile and colonial act, reflecting hegemonic behavior and old practices of separating countries into first and second classes. Representation at the unprecedented meeting included Presidents Cristina Fernandez of Argentina, Rafael Correa of Ecuador, Desi Boutersi of Suriname, Jose Pepe Mujica of Uruguay and Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela, as well as delegations from other South American nations.
UNASUR asserted that in restricting the Bolivian president’s freedom to travel, the European nations responsible made him a hostage and committed a human rights violation, setting a dangerous precedent for existing international law. Their actions broke a fundamental principle of international law: the inviolability of a head of state. UNASUR also asserted support for a complaint filed by Bolivia with the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and support for Bolivia to take all actions it deems necessary to the relevant courts and agencies, and called on all U.N. and regional organizations to acknowledge the actions as unjustifiable.
An English translations of UNASUR’s statement is available here.