Senator’s bolt to Brazil sparks row with Bolivia
Senator Pinto escapes in 22-hour dash to border in car of sympathetic Brazilian official
Brazil’s foreign minister Antonio Patriota (left), who resigned afte helping a Bolivian senator who had been accused of corruption, toasts US secretary of state John Kerry before a lunch in Brasilia this month. Photograph: Evaristo Sa/Reuters
A controversial asylum seeker, a Latin American embassy and a daring escape. The ingredients of the diplomatic drama that has just forced the resignation of Brazilian foreign minister Antonio Patriota may sound familiar to Edward Snowden and Julian Assange.
But the repercussions are now shaking two of South America’s staunchest allies. Brazil and Bolivia are at odds over the flight of Roger Pinto, a Bolivian senator who had for 452 days been seeking asylum at the Brazilian embassy in the Bolivian capital La Paz.
Although Brazil offered temporary refuge, Bolivia refused safe passage across its borders, saying Pinto had to face accusations of corruption and 13 other criminal charges.
But Pinto escaped this weekend in a 22-hour dash to the border in the car of a sympathetic Brazilian official, who used his diplomatic immunity to protect him. That diplomat, Eduardo Saboia, said he was moved to take action because Pinto had grown dangerously depressed as a result of his near-15-month confinement in a small room at the embassy.
Bolivian officials accused Brazil of violating international agreements. Brazil claims it had no prior knowledge of the escape. An inquiry has been launched and heads have started to roll. Patriota took responsibility by standing down as foreign minister on Monday.
Brazil said it would not extradite Pinto, who claims he is victim of political persecution because he accused Bolivian president Evo Morales of links to drug cartels.– (Guardian service)