Argentine president live-tweets her efforts to aid Bolivia’s Morales

July 3, 2013

The unexpected detour taken by the Bolivian president's jetliner over Austria - and the rumor, since disproved, that NSA leaker Edward Snowden was aboard - prompted frantic efforts by indignant Latin American leaders to support their colleague.

None took to Twitter with the fervor of Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. Her feed, beginning late Tuesday, expressed outrage at the grounding of Bolivian President Evo Morales. Her first tweets – among 22 in a one-hour period – place her in the presidential residence, with Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa on the phone.

The tweet relays her conversation with "Rafa" Correa. It reads, in English, "'Hello Rafa, how are you?' His answer to me is between anger and anguish: 'Don't you know what's happened?'"

Correa tells her about what he describes as the detention of Morales in Vienna after France and Portugal denied airspace rights to his presidential plane following a trip to Moscow (where Snowden has been). Fernandez is outraged – and (briefly) speechless.

"They've definitely gone crazy," Kirchner tweets. She uses the word "impunity" to describe the action against Morales. That's a loaded word in Argentina, where previous military governments oversaw what is known as the Dirty War of the late 1970s and early 1980s, in which up to 30,000 people were killed. It took decades for some of the military leaders to face justice.

Correa says he'll call Peru's president. Meanwhile, Fernandez de Kirchner rings up Morales, who responds by asking her how she is, then lays out his situation – he's stuck "in a little room in the airport."

He says he won't let Austrian officials search his plane, explaining, "I'm not a thief." Fernandez tells him she'll call the U.S. State Department and check back. She hears from a legal expert that Morales should have immunity from  denial of airspace and considers an international legal challenge, a preventive injunction or "Mother of God! Some judge from here." She calls Morales back to inform him, then reaches Uruguay's president, Jose "Pepe" Mujica.

"He's outraged. He's got reason for it. It's all so humiliating," she tweets of Mujica. After a callback from Ecuador's president, she learns that there will be a South American leadership meeting on Wednesday. "This will not stand," she concludes.

At about the same time, Correa tweets himself, saying the South Americans must be decisive and reaffirm their independence and dignity.

"We're all Bolivians!" he concludes.

His Twitter feed was silent through midday, as was hers, except for noting her attendance at a ceremony for Argentina's new military chiefs.

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Max Fisher | July 3, 2013