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At the conclusion of a summit of the South American free-trade union Mercosur on July 12, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and Venezuela recalled their ambassadors from Spain, France, Italy and Portugal. Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua followed suit and recalled their own top diplomats in each of the four European countries.

The initiative, explains Trouw, has been prompted by the July 2 closure of French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese airspace to a plane carrying Bolivian president Evo Morales. The aircraft was suspected of transporting Edward Snowden, the former CIA contractor who publicly disclosed information on eavesdropping systems established by the United States.

In the wake of this decision, the countries of South America are “furious” with the European states concerned, points out the daily. “This neo-colonial behaviour cannot go unpunished,” remarked Argentinian President Cristina Kirchner.