July 3, 2013 (TSR) – The Venezuelan secretary general of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), Alí Rodríguez Araque, said Wednesday that the restriction on the flight over Europe by Bolivian President Evo Morales “is outrageous” and violates the sovereignty of that nation.
In a telephone interview with Telesur, Rodríguez Araque announced that an emergency meeting had been convened to analyze the situation after a request by the government of Ecuador.
The date of the meeting will be defined by the heads of state of the regional organization.
Rodríguez Araque said the situation is shocking because it puts the life of a president at risk.
“That cannot be let go as if it were a normal event; it would mean accepting imperial acts passively in countries that shed a lot of blood to achieve their independence,” he said.
France and Portugal had denied transit to President Morales’ plane, and both nations used the excuse that it supposedly carried Edward Snowden, the former CIA agent accused of espionage by the United States.
Although these nations lifted the restriction, Italy and Spain have now placed conditions on the plane’s transit, causing it to make an emergency stop in Austria.
Rodríguez Araque mentioned the situation, saying “those affected by Snowden’s revelations are European countries, mainly France. Instead of reacting against those that affected them, they react in an absurd way against the president of a sovereign country like the Bolivian president.”
“The response [by South America] should be unanimous rejection and condemnation of this action,” he said. “The aggressions against Morales affect ties between Latin America and Europe.”
The situation puts in question the holding of future Ibero-American Summits, he said, for ties with Spain should not be strengthened if that country puts conditions on travel by Bolivian leaders.
“These vessels are sovereign, especially if they carry the president of the republic,” he said.
The European countries implicated should apologize, he indicated, “but that does not totally erase the gravity of the event.”
President Maduro Responds
For his part, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro said early Wednesday morning that the decision by European countries to restrict Morales’ flight amounts to “dangerous, disproportionate and unacceptable aggression.”
“I ratify all our solidarity with Evo and from Venezuela with dignity we respond to this dangerous, disproportionate and unacceptable aggression,” he wrote via his twitter account, @NicolasMaduro.
In another message, he suggested that he was in contact with his Bolivian counterpart, whom he said had suffered a violation of international immunity laws protecting heads of state.