5 Jul 2013

‘We are better off without US’, says Bolivia’s Morales

Bolivian President Evo Morales threatens to shut down the US embassy in La Paz as the row over the grounding of his plane continues.

Evo Morales (R)

The diplomatic row started after Morales’s jet was grounded in Vienna this week to be searched, presumably for US spy Edward Snowden.

Bolivia have accused Austria of an act of aggression and a violation of international law, and say that the that the orders to divert Morales’s plane came from the United States.

Morales said today that regional unity was needed “to defeat north American imperialism”.

He added: “My hand would not shake if it came to closing the embassy. Without the United States we are better off politically and democratically.”

The US embassy remains open in Bolivia although the two countries have not had full diplomatic relations in years.

His comments came after South America’s most outspoken leaders demanded an explanation and public apology from four European countries.

Evo Morales (G)

At a summit in Cochabamba, Bolivia, five regional leaders joined him in denouncing his “virtual kidnapping”.

At the end of the summit – which included the leaders of Argentina, Uruguay, Ecuador, Surinam and Venezuela – a statement was issued demanding answers from France, Portugal, Italy and Spain. The United States was not mentioned in the statement.

Latin support

“Europe broke all the rules of the game,” Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said shortly after arriving at the Cochabamba airport.

“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.”

Maduro said an unnamed European government minister had told Venezuela that the CIA, the US spy agency, was behind the incident.

“We are not colonies any more,” Uruguayan President Jose Mujica said. “We deserve respect, and when one of our governments is insulted we feel the insult throughout Latin America.”