Bolivian President Evo Morales threatened Thursday to shut down the U.S. embassy in his country after a forced re-routing and downing of his plane earlier this week on suspicion that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was on board.
Morales was flanked by the heads of state of Venezuela, Ecuador, Argentina, and Uruguay as he announced the possible embassy closure at a special meeting in Cochabamba, Bolivia. He declared:
Being united will defeat American imperialism. We met with the leaders of my party and they asked us for several measures and if necessary, we will close the embassy of the United States. We do not need the embassy of the United States.
The South American government leaders blasted the 'kidnapping' of the Bolivian president as an act of brute power, revealing that the U.S. and European governments still view themselves as the colonial rulers of Latin America. Uruguay's president Jose Mujica declared:
We are not colonies any more. We deserve respect, and when one of our governments is insulted we feel the insult throughout Latin America.
Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa pointed out:
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If this had happened to the president of the United States, it probably would have been grounds for war.
Washington is widely believed to have applied the political pressure to France, Portugal, Italy and Spain that led to the forced downing of the Bolivian president's flight. European countries acted on a tip that Snowden was on board the flight, the media revealed Thursday, but they refused to admit where the information came from.
Snowden was not found on the flight.
Morales said Tuesday that he would grant political asylum to Snowden if asked. Critics have slammed the U.S. for the global manhunt for Snowden, declaring it retaliatory against whistleblowing and bullying of countries that do not participate in the crackdown. Guardian writer John Pilger had harsh words for the incident:
The forcing down of Bolivian President Evo Morales's plane – denied airspace by France, Spain and Portugal, followed by his 14-hour confinement while Austrian officials demanded to "inspect" his aircraft for the "fugitive" Edward Snowden – was an act of air piracy and state terrorism. It was a metaphor for the gangsterism that now rules the world and the cowardice and hypocrisy of bystanders who dare not speak its name.
The U.S. remains silent about the 'kidnapping' incident.