A diplomatic spat between Mexico and Peru erupted over what Mexico claims was Peru’s refusal to allow the plane carrying Evo Morales to exile to refuel in Lima. In a statement made by Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard shortly after Morales’ arrival in Mexico City, he alleged that Peru’s refusal was due to political reasons (“una valoración política”).

The air force plane sent by the Mexican government refuelled on its outward journey in Lima without problems. But when it sought to return to Mexico using the same route, refuelling again in Lima, permission was refused. According to Ebrard, “as the plane was ready to take off [from Chimoré in the Chapare district of Bolivia] at around 7.30 Mexico time, the government of Peru through its foreign minister communicated to me that for political reasons permission had been suspended to land in Lima, to refuel, and to return to Mexico”.

Faced with this refusal, the plane was obliged to fly in the opposite direction, with Morales aboard, and to refuel in Asunción in Paraguay. It took intervention from Argentine President-in-waiting Alberto Fernandez to gain official acceptance to fly to Paraguay. From Paraguay it then flew northwards through Brazilian airspace but was able to pass through Peruvian airspace in the far north of the country before setting off over international waters.

The reason given by Peruvian Foreign Minister for refusing to allow the plane to refuel in Lima was that there was “not part of the original plan”. It appears also that Ecuador too was reluctant to allow the plane to fly through its airspace. Could someone from outside the region be pulling the strings?