Brazilian authorities are saying that Bolivia violated the immunity of a Brazilian Air Force plane which in October 2011 was carrying Defense minister Celso Amorim and with no search warrant proceeded to inspect the aircraft suspecting opposition Senator Roger Pinto might be on board, claimed Brazilian authorities.
“In the second half of 2011 there were actions by Bolivian authorities which conform violations of the immunity of Brazilian Air Force aircraft, one of them with the plane carrying the minister of Defense in an official visit to La Paz at the end of October 2011”, pointed out a Tuesday release from the Brazilian Defense ministry.
According to media reports from the time, Bolivian authorities suspected that the military aircraft had on board opposition Senator Roger Pinto, who had taken refuge in the Brazilian embassy in La Paz for over 13 months. However the Ministry of Defense did not reveal the motive of the search.
“The Brazilian ministry of Defense never authorized the search” and Brazil sent a formal protest to the Bolivian Foreign ministry through its embassy in La Paz, adds the release.
“In that document the embassy told the Bolivian ministry that a repeat of such abusive procedures would lead Brazil to apply the principle of reciprocity, but since the letter was sent, the Brazilian Air Force did not suffer any similar search incidents with its aircraft by Bolivian authorities”, adds the release.
Brazilian Foreign minister Antonio Patriota addressed the issue during a meeting with foreign correspondents and said he had been in contact with the ministry of Defense to have more details of what exactly happened, but “I can anticipate it refers to an incident that happened in October 2011, well before Brazil granted Senator Pinto political asylum”.
On Tuesday the São Paulo newspaper Valor Econômico published about the incident but dated October 2012 and in the city of Santa Cruz de La Sierra, when the Brazilian Air Force plane carrying the Defense minister was searched by the police including trained sniff dogs.
However the ministry pointed out it happened October 2011, and not in 2012, when Pinto had already taken refuge at the Brazilian embassy in La Paz.
Opposition Senator Pinto in the embassy since 28 May 2012 claims he is victim of political persecution for having accused the government of president Evo Morales of involvement in corruption and association with drug rings.
The news of the 2011 incident surfaces when Bolivia and other South American countries have expressed solidarity with president Evo Morales whose plane was delayed and impeded for several hours from over flying and landing in several European countries including Spain, Italy, Portugal and France.
Apparently there were intelligence reports that Morales presidential aircraft could have US ‘leaker’ Edward Snowden on board, since Bolivia was one of many countries willing to grant the former NSA analyst political asylum and the plane had left Moscow. Snowden remained stranded in the Moscow airport.
Brazil Downplays Pacific Alliance
Brazilian Foreign minister Antonio Patriota downplayed the significance of the Alliance of the Pacific, the free trade agreement which includes Chile, Peru, Colombia and Mexico, arguing it is not a “real deep integration” as the one proposed by Mercosur.
Speaking with foreign correspondents in São Paulo, Patriota said the Pacific Alliance “is an effort which brings together countries with similar characteristics, but not an alliance, or a free trade zone or a customs union, much less an integration project such is the case of Mercosur”.
According to Patriota Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela) is ‘full of life and dynamic’ and in 2019 ‘we will have a South American free trade zone, next to other blocks such as the Caribbean Community, Carikcom”.
“When I say that the alliance is marketing or a new package for the same existing produce I’m not trying to downplay, since we are talking of countries that are most important for Brazil. And Brazil hopes and expects that this effort will help make those economies more dynamic and elevate living standards”, underlined the Brazilian minister.
Patriota also talked about Paraguay and president-elect Horacio Cartes assertions rejecting the incorporation of Venezuela as full member of the Mercosur group next to Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.
“They are statements from an elected president; it’s important to follow and see what he will be saying when in full exercise of office, as of August 15 when he is inaugurated”.
Patriota also underlined the reestablishment of Mercosur relations with Paraguay, suspended since June 2012, which was decided at last week’s summit in Montevideo, and the fact that despite the political sanction, trade continued to flourish and there were no retaliations hurting the Paraguayan people.
Likewise “it was an important gesture” the fact that Mercosur governments acknowledged the victory of Cartes in the April presidential election and that some presidents such as Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff have anticipated she would be traveling to Asuncion for the inauguration on 15 August.