The grounding of the Bolivian Presidential Jet

The presidential plane of Bolivia was forced to land in Austria on July 3, 2013 as it passed through Austrian airspace on its way home to Bolivia due to the fact that the someone in the US government believed that whistle-blower Edward Snowden was on board the plane. Several European Union countries barred the plane from entering their airspace over suspicions that whistle-blower Edward Snowden was on board the jet. These fly-over denials limited the options of the pilot of the Bolivian presidential plane.

The grounding of Bolivian President Morales’ plane set off angry protests from leaders all over South America. It was asserted by many that the US Empire had kidnapped President Morales. Certainly if the US presidential plane had been forced down in a foreign country the US would have acted as if an assassination attempt were under way. It is hard to see how war could be averted under those circumstances.

Bolivian President Morales waves from his plane before leaving the Vienna International Airport in Schwechat

President Morales spoke to the press about this incident and reminded everyone that he is not a criminal and that the period of colonialism is long past. He called on those countries that closed their airspace to his country’s plane to explain why. He has rightfully pointed out that a very shameful act was carried out against him and his country.

So who authorized this imperial sky-jacking? Obviously the US government was behind the Bolivian Plane Affair, no one else has reason to charge Edward Snowden for a crime or the power to bully their toady client states into this political abomination. But who, exactly, in the US government was behind this unprecedented decision to assault the Bolivian President? Someone in the US Empire issued an order to the vassal states of France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and possibly others to forbid the plane from using their airspace.

The compliant main stream media did not bother to find out who was behind the order to detain the Bolivian President’s plane and illegally board it for search. We can be assured that no mid-level bureaucrat decided to risk their career on such a move. The orders had to come “from the top”. The orders to ground the plane must have come from the inner circle of the center of imperial power: the orders must have come from the White House and in the name of the president.

After the plane was on the ground in Vienna, the Austrian police or military boarded the plane to search for the fugitive Edward Snowden. The trouble for the Empire was that the target himself, Edward Snowden, was not on that plane. Whoever concocted this horrible plan neglected to consider the scenario of Snowden not being on the presidential plane of Bolivia. The worldwide political fallout has been enormous. The several complicit European states were exposed as the toadies that they are and were thoroughly embarrassed. The South American governments rallied around the Bolivians with righteous outrage. Venezuela’s President offered Snowden asylum and the Bolivian president followed that with his own offer of asylum. Others followed after that.

CNN reported:

Portuguese authorities wouldn’t let President Evo Morales’ plane land for refueling in Lisbon, Bolivian Defense Minister Ruben Saavedra told CNN en Español. French authorities also wouldn’t let the plane enter their airspace, he said.

“We are told that there were some unfounded suspicions that Mr. Snowden was on the plane,” Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca said. “We do not know who has invented this lie. Someone who wants to harm our country. This information that has been circulated is malicious information to harm this country.”

In a televised address late Tuesday night, Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera described Morales as a “hostage of imperialism.”

“The president has been kidnapped by imperialism, and he is being held in Europe,” he said, calling for workers worldwide to protest “this act of imperial arrogance.”

The situation is the latest twist in what has become a global guessing game over Snowden’s next steps.

Leftist governments all over South America looked courageous standing up to the US Empire while Austria looked positively foolish. This affair made the US look bad in front of the whole world. But worse than these foreign policy set-backs is the fact that the US Empire set a precedent that it asserts that no government’s planes are allowed to fly without the approval of the Empire. Such is the world today.

Someday perhaps we will find out who came up with this disastrous plan to ground the presidential plane of a country at peace with the world. Someday we will find out how far up the chain of command in the imperial forces the approval process for the plan went.

As we said in the Watergate days, “what did the President know, and when did he know it?”

Note: this essay was posted in an edited version last week at The Libertarian of the UK.

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