This is a translation of the address made by Álvaro García Linera, Bolivian Vice-President, on the events relating to Bolivian President Evo Morales’s detention at Vienna airport yesterday as a consequence of his presidential plane being denied permission to pass over French and Portuguese airspace, at the behest of the US government who believed that Edward Snowden was aboard the Bolivian presidential plane.
As the Bolivian people and the whole world now knows, [last] Tuesday, at approximately three to half past three Bolivian time, when President Evo was returning from Moscow, — where he had a meeting with President Putin, the final meeting, returning to Latin America, the presidential plane had to pass through the airspace of France, Portugal and Spain, to refuel in the Canary Islands and from there reach the Continent.
The plane received an instruction by the government of France that it could not cross French airspace. As it could neither cross Portuguese airspace, the airport made an emergency request to land at the airport of Vienna, Austria, and it landed at approximately 4:30pm.
In total violation of the Vienna Convention, which establishes that the flights of the world’s presidents cannot be obstructed and have immunity, a pair of European governments prohibited the plane of President Evo from passing through their airspace. From 16:00 until now, at 22:35, President Evo remains stationed at Vienna airport. We want to say to Bolivians, we want to say to the world that President Evo Morales, our President, the President of the Bolivians, is currently kidnapped in Europe. We want to tell the peoples of the world that President Evo Morales has been kidnapped by imperialism and is detained in Europe. He is the first kidnap victim of imperialism, since he is not allowed to cross the airspaces of European countries to return to our country, to Bolivia.
Imperalism has kidnapped President Evo, imperialism has kidnapped the truth, the imperial lie has kidnapped the truth of the peoples. Imperial abuse has kidnapped the dignity of the peoples. Foreign powers –once again, as they did 500 years ago– mistreat and attack a people, the Bolivian people, they mistreat, they attack and they offend the first indigenous President of Latin America. 500 years ago, foreign powers killed indigenous, they kidnapped indigenous, 500 years later, the pale , decadent reflexes of these foreign powers today detain the first indigenous President of Latin America.
We know that this blocking of the President’s journey has been instructed by the government of the United States. The US Government, which is afraid of a peasant, which is afraid of an indigenous, which is afraid of an honest man who defends the sovereignty of our country. Raising aloft a decadent and prostituted politics of empire, they appeal to terror, to fear, to the policed control of their own population and of the entire world and today of the first indigenous President, of Latin America and Bolivia.
This is an affront to all Bolivians. Every Bolivian today feels outraged, we feel offended. But along with the Bolivians all the peoples of the world feel offended, the peasants of the world, the workers of the world, the intellectuals of the world, the young people of the world, the decent persons of the world, who see how a decadent, conniving power uses its power, its arrogance, to attack a simple people, a decent people, hardworking, such as the Bolivian people. A decent President, a hardworking President, an indigenous President, as is President Evo.
But one cannot but notice that behind that imperial arrogance, certain countries in Europe, colonies of this decadent empire, should fall into the way of following suit and obeying instructions from abroad.
What will the peoples of those countries think? Today the colonial countries are no longer here, in Latin America. Today we find colonised countries in Europe, which obey, against their democratic precepts, against international precepts, abusive impositions of a foreign power. Certain European countries have become colonies, abject colonies of the North American empire.
The European Enlightenment is long gone, gone are the lights with which Europe lit up the culture, democracy and pluralism of the world: not only in servile obedience to the imposition of a foreign power, as is the US, but by aggression and attack on the free transit of a President, who by any global convention, has the right to be able to travel the world on official journeys. Obscurantism, a repressive policing stance, and abuse are taking hold of that beautiful Europe, which centuries and decades ago was an example of plurality and respect of the rights of persons and the rights of peoples.
We say to the imperial powers, to the subordinate and colonised countries of Europe, we are not afraid of you. We say that we are not afraid of you because it is no longer the time of empires, because it is not the time of colonies; today is the time of peoples, today is the time of dignity, and I am sure that sooner rather than later the brother peoples of those subject countries will bring their rulers to account for these violations, for these abuses that break with the entire democratic and progressive history of Europe. It is shameful.
I say it again, you do not scare us. We have been in contact with President Evo since the moment that he was instructed that he could not pass through French territory. We are in conversation with our Chancellor, our Minister of Government, the ministers in permanent conversation with the President. We know the current status of his situation and we maintain strength, strength from the dignity that he will not bend. The Bolivians will not bend, the Latin Americans will not bend, they will not make President Evo bend, never again will they bend the indigenous peoples who have raised their heads to define our own destiny.
No power, neither decadent ones or those who long for the old eras of putrefied colonialism are going to scare us, they will not make us step back, they will not make us give in.
The full cabinet, now in session for hours, calls first of all to the peoples of the world, to the peoples of the world to repudiate this abusive, antidemocratic stance that goes against the principles that regulate peaceful and democratic co-existence between peoples, civilised, to repudiate this kind of troglodyte, archaic, colonialist and abusive stance against President Evo.
We call on the workers of the world, to the labourers of Europe, to the youth of Europe, to young peasants and labourers throughout the world, where there are peoples, where there are millions of Evo Morales, to manifest their objection, to manifest their outrage against this act of imperial arrogance, to manifest their objection to this imperial kidnapping of President Evo.
We call on the peoples of Latin America, on the progressive governments, to speak out, we ask for the peoples of Latin America, for the governments of Latin America, to come together in emergency, to take a position on this abuse.
Today Latin America is being trampled on, not only Bolivia, its smallest country, its most sacrificed, but also the most struggling country that the continent has. It is Latin America that is being trampled, it is the dignity of the Latin Americans that is being attacked.
We call on Latin America to speak out, to meet in emergency in the different instances they have, that Latin Americans have to take a firm and strong position; first, of respect for the life of our President, for protection of the life of our President, because his life was at risk this afternoon, when he was prevented from passing through French territory. Not only were international treaties violated, but the life of the indigenous President of Bolivia was put at risk.
We ask them to speak out, we ask the peoples to speak out, unions, universities; there can be no impunity for this final flicker of 19th century imperialism for which there is no room in the 21st Century.
To the Bolivian people, we want to give thanks for the different, plural, demonstrations of every social sector, for unity with regard to our President. We have communicated to our President Evo minutes ago the affection and support he has received from different social, political and cultural sectors; we ask the Bolivian people to maintain unity around our President.
Today Bolivia is Evo Morales, today the people is Evo Morales; Evo Morales is Boliva, and let us all stay united. Let the Bolivian people be in no doubt that we are doing everything, we are using every necessary means established by diplomacy and dignity to ensure that our President returns here to Bolivia as soon as possible. We are going to make every effort.
But we also want to say the following, we are not going to accept blackmail from any country. In the hours and minutes past, they have sought to blackmail the President, that they would give him authorisation to fly over certain European countries as long as they allowed the Presidential plane to be checked. When has this ever happened? President Evo is no criminal, President Evo has the right of any President to immunity in his flight, and what we say is true, we have never lied, the information that corresponds to official voyages has been given, and that is our final word. President Evo is going to repsect the dignity of the Bolivians, the dignity of the indigenous of the world, the dignity of Latin American, he has the right to take off to return to Bolivia as soon as possible.
We are not going to accept blackmail, any kind of conditioning, peoples of the world, let us defend dignity; peoples of the world, let us reject imperial arrogance; peoples of the world, let us not allow our indigenous President to become a hostage of imperialism detained in Europe.
Bolivian men and women, let us stay united, let us trust that in the following hours our President Evo will be once again with us and we will greet him with all the affection and with all the pride that a decent man who right now is representing all the peoples of the world kidnapped by imperial arrogance.
This is not the time of empires and their decadent lashing out, and in the final instance they will not make us step back, we will maintain as a consequence this line of dignity, of respect for peaceful coexistence among the nations and peoples, but above all pride, of revolutionary pride in who we are, workers, revolutionaries, indigenous, fighters who defend the interest of every working person in the world.
That is what we wish to inform you, in the following hours that come the cabinet will remain in session, certainly the political commission, and as soon as we have more precise information regarding the flight of President Evo, we are going to be informing the press. I want to thank you for your attendance, good evening.