Evo’s odyssey: Morales endures banned airspace, unplanned pit stop during flight to political asylum in Mexico
Former Bolivian President Evo Morales has landed safely in Mexico, but his journey to political asylum had twists and turns as neighboring states reacted to the ongoing turmoil back home.
The Mexican Air Force aircraft ferrying Morales to safety made a stop in Paraguay to refuel on Tuesday, after reportedly being denied permission to land in Peru. The plane had been allowed to refuel in Peru on its way to fetch Morales, suggesting that the Peruvian government had a change of heart due to the aircraft’s political cargo.
Overnight, the Mexican plane transporting President Evo Morales landed at Asunción, Paraguay’s Silvio Pettiross airport for a period as they awaited confirmation of an air route which would allow the aircraft to reach Mexico. The plane was finally able to depart 2 hours ago. pic.twitter.com/H0UJqhsD83
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Initial reports claimed that Chile and Brazil had refused to allow Morales’ aircraft to pass over their airspace, but flight tracking enthusiasts noted that the plane was allowed to fly across Brazil on its way to Mexico.
Also, Mexico’s foreign minister said that another country which denied permission for the plane to land and refuel, and also fly over its airspace was Ecuador.
Despite the setbacks, Morales appears to be upbeat. One photograph shows him holding up a Mexican flag on board the plane delivering him to political asylum, while another photo is of Morales waving to the camera as he prepares to leave Paraguay for his final destination.
AHORA: Evo Morales y su vice Álvaro García Linera ya se encuentran en Asunción, Paraguay, para pronto seguir viaje rumbo a México. pic.twitter.com/CwwzMZBHCY
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Mexico’s foreign ministry said it had decided to take in Morales for humanitarian reasons. According to Foreign Minister Marcelko Ebrard, Morales’ “life and physical integrity” were at risk in his home country. Bolivian opposition leaders had claimed that police and the military were looking to capture the former president – but the country’s police chief later dismissed these reports.
It’s believed that several Bolivian officials, including former Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera and Senate President Adriana Salvatierra, may also have traveled with Morales – but the Mexican government has declined to comment on these reports.
Morales said in a tweet announcing his departure that he was grateful to the Mexican government and its people for granting him asylum to “defend our lives” – and that he would soon return to Bolivia.
It hurts to leave the country for political reasons, but I will remain vigilant. Soon I will return with greater strength and energy.
Morales resigned on Sunday after leading Bolivia for more than a decade, following what many have described as a military coup in the country. The Bolivian president had called for fresh elections as a way to avoid conflict over accusations of fraud stemming from a close presidential race in October. However, the announcement did not placate the opposition, which took to the streets to demand his immediate resignation. Shortly after, Bolivia’s military chief called on Morales to step down.
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