A statement in parliament by Paulo Portas, who was still foreign affairs minister on Tuesday (see story on page 2 and 3), explained that Bolivia was informed “in good time” about Portugal’s refusal to accept a stopover of the Bolivian President’s plane under suspicion that American fugitive Edward Snowden (ex-CIA employee) was on board, a problem that Portugal did not want to “import”.
“The Snowden issue is not Portugal’s issue and I see no advantage in having it. Bolivia’s sovereignty was respected,” said Portas last Tuesday, in response to why the Portuguese government did not question who was on board the plane.
Portas answered that the decision was nothing more than a precaution, in order to not adopt a problem the country “did not create and will not solve”.He continued by saying the flight was granted authorisation to enter Portuguese airspace with a 24-hour notice, in which the flight’s approved plan should be respected.
The minister also denied the assumption that Portugal had broken any kind of international law by only allowing the entrance of the plane in the national airspace and denying a stopover.
However, despite Portas’ explanation, the refusal by Portugal and other European countries to accommodate the landing of the Bolivian aircraft has led to fierce protests from the Bolivian President Evo Morales and the Bolivian people.
On Monday, hundreds of Morales’ supporters gathered in front of the US embassy in the country to burn Portuguese, Spanish, French and American flags at the same time that the Bolivian government was hearing ambassadors of France, Italy and Spain, and Paulo Portas gave his official explanation regarding the situation.