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What’s in it for Ecuador?

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If Ecuador grants asylum to Edward Snowden, no doubt we’ll hear Rafael Correa being described once more as a ‘tinpot president’, ready to welcome dissidents to Ecuador’s ‘jungly bosom’. If instead Snowden ends up in Venezuela or Cuba, his would-be jailers will move even further onto their moral high ground.

Yet all these countries have understandable motives for supporting people, like Snowden and Julian Assange, who cast light on the undercover activities of the United States’ intelligence services, given the history of covert US interference in Latin America. Why should Cuba collaborate when it is still being penetrated by US agents? Why should Venezuela hand Snowden over, when the US refuses to respond to its arrest warrant for Luis Posada, who walks free in Miami despite his alleged role in blowing up a Cuban airliner? Nicolas Maduro, narrowly elected in April after the death of Hugo Chávez, is still waiting for the US to recognise his presidency, even after a recent audit of the ballot confirming the result.
 
During Correa’s first election campaign in 2006, the US funded ‘pro-democracy’ groups that failed to stop him winning. In 2008, Colombian troops crossed into Ecuador in pursuit of FARC guerrillas: the US backed Colombia. In 2009, the agreement allowing the US to maintain a military base at Manta in Ecuador expired: Correa said he wouldn’t renew it unless Ecuador could have a base in Miami. In September 2010, Correa survived an attempted coup by elements of the army and police with strong connections to the US. Some had been trained at the School of the Americas, which Ecuador withdrew from last year. Ecuador, unlike Bolivia, hasn’t yet expelled USAID, but Correa has warned it against fuelling opposition to his government and has a drawn up a new set of rules for it to follow if it wants to stay. And yesterday Ecuador said it would be withdrawing from the Andean Trade Preference Act.
 
Still, Correa has a more diplomatic attitude towards the US than his regional partners. He charmed Hillary Clinton when she visited Ecuador as secretary of state in 2010, and has expressed his ‘personal respect for President Obama and for the positive changes he seeks to introduce’. But he also warns that ‘strong interests and powerful groups are responsible for much of US foreign policy’ and says they have been ‘historically antagonistic’ to progressive change. Ecuador has long been exploited by the US banana companies and is in dispute with Chevron over an oil spill affecting 1700 square miles of the Amazon.
 
It would be surprising if Correa, like other left-wing leaders in Latin America, were not keen to strengthen his claim to fill the regional leadership vacuum created by Chávez’s death. Protecting Assange and now perhaps Snowden won’t hurt his case. But that isn’t his only motive.

Comments on “What’s in it for Ecuador?”

  1. John Perry says:

    In this YouTube clip (in Spanish) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=CaAHATIF2j0#at=65 – Correa explains why he unilaterally gave up the trade preferences Ecuador has been receiving, because they were being pressured not to give Snowdon asylum as they would lose the trade preferences with the US if they decided to do so. And he is offering the US the equivalent ($23 million) in human rights training to help the country end extraordinary rendition, torture, drone strikes, spying, etc. Will they accept it?

  2. gotnotruck says:

    SORRY, CAPS FOR BAD EYES. ODD THAT I LIVE IN AMERICA YES HAVE NEVER HEARD THE PHRASE’TIN POT PRESIDENT”. WHO INVENTED IT? THE AUTHOR? THE LRB IS AN EXCELLENT EXAMPLE OF THE ENEMY OF MY ENEMY IS MY FRIEND. AND THE US HAS BEEN YOUR MORTAL ENEMY EVER SINCE YOU NEEDED OUR HELP TO WIN WWII, ALONG WITH STALIN. YOU LOVE LATIN AMERICAN LEFTISTS LIKE SAINT FIDEL BECAUSE AS FAR AS I KNOW YOU HAD NO EMPIRE IN LATIN AMERICA. OUR TURF, AS THE MUNRO DOCTRINE CLAIMED. DIDNT YOU DO THE SAME IN MOST OF THE REST OF THE WORD. WHY THE SUN NEVER SET ON YOUR EMPIRE! AND YOU BRAGGED ABOUT IT, STILL DO. AN AMERICAN COMEDIAN MADE FUN OF AMERICANS FOR CHASING THE SUPPOSED AMERICAN DREAM, ALWAYS FOLLOWED BY IS IT A NIGHTMARE? YES, NOW IT IS. ENJOY AND WRITE ABOUT HOW MANY FAMILIES ARE “FOOD INSUFFICIENT” EVEN THOUGH EACH PARENT HAS TWO JOBS. WITH GUANTANAMO WHY BOTHER TO LOOK AT CUBA ON THE REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS SITE. IT’S BLACK IN A SEA OF YELLOW AND ORANGE. MIGHT EVEN BE A SPECK OF WHITE. YOU AND WE, SORRY TO SAY, ARE BOTH YELLOW. OR IS IT ORANGE. IN BOTH CASES IT SHOULD BE DARKER WHAT WITH OUR RESPECTIVE ‘INTELLIGENCE” SERVICES. YES, CUBA CAN FEED ITS PEOPLE, AND EDUCATES THEM. BIG BRAGGING RIGHTS. IT MIGHT BE INTERESTING TO GO INTO THEIR PRISONS, WHERE POLITICAL PRISONERS OFTEN HOLD HUNGER STRIKES. INCLUDING LIBRARIANS IN JAIL. WHAT CAN’T YOU TEACH. WHICH BOOKS ARE ILLEGAL. HAVE YOU COVERED JOANI SANCHEZ’S BLOG GENERACIONY? THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS. TO ITS CREDIT, DID AN EXCELLENT ARTICLE A FEW YEARS AGO TITLED, “CUBA: A WAY FORWARD”. OF COURSE WE SHOULD STOP THE BLOCKADE. MEANWHILE ALLOWED EXIT VISAS, BUT NO PRIVATE MOVIE HOUSES. A FEW CUBANS JOURNEY OUT TO SEE THE WORLD, NOT AS ITS SEEN IN GRANMA. A SALVADORIAN FRIEND ADORES FIDEL, WAS DISTRAUGHT AT THE VERY IDEA THAT CASTRO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT OF USING A NUKE, AS HE DID TO THE GLORY OF CUBA, DURING THE CUBAN MISSLE CRISIS. WHY THE RUSSIANS TOOK THEM HOME. SURE YOU READ THE STORY IN THE NY TIMES, BY CANADIAN ACADEMICS AT THE U OF WATERLOO. ANYWAY, MY FRIEND LONGS FOR NOTHING MORE THAN TO LIVE IN CUBA, BUT FIRST HE NEEDS THE MONEY. WHO WOULD WANT TO LIVE AS CUBANS DO. MY CANADIAN BROTHER SAYS AFTER WE END THE BLOCKADE, ALL PROBLEMS IN CUBA WILL BE AMERICA’S FAULT. BET YOU WILL AS WELL. YA CAN’T WIN.

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