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Why Snowden Picked Ecuador

The NSA leaker knows that President Rafael Correa wants to be the next Hugo Chávez.

by
Jaime Daremblum

Bio

June 26, 2013 - 12:42 am
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Given his anti-U.S. record and his desire to succeed the late Hugo Chávez as the leader of Latin America’s populist-left coalition, there is good reason to expect that Correa will approve Snowden’s request. However, while Correa is known for his “anti-imperialist” rants and frequent denunciations of U.S. foreign policy, Ecuador still has a dollarized economy, and it still sends 45 percent of its exports to the United States (mostly oil, food products, and flowers), making America its largest trade partner. Since the early 1990s, Ecuador has benefited from U.S. trade preferences that are scheduled to expire on July 31. Thanks to these preferences, 23 percent of Ecuador’s U.S.-bound exports are exempt from tariffs. If Correa shelters Snowden, he will obviously jeopardize his country’s trade status.

Either way, the idea of Correa as a champion of civil liberties is laughable. Outside of the Communist regime in Cuba and the Chávez regime in Venezuela, no other Latin American government has conducted such an aggressive and sustained campaign against opposition media outlets. Freedom House now classifies the Ecuadorean press environment as “not free,” and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has said that Correa’s record on press freedom is “among the very worst in the Americas.” Back in April, three Correa opponents (one National Assembly member and two activists) were sentenced to prison for allegedly “slandering” the Ecuadorean president. Freedom House criticized the sentencing as “a grave violation of free speech rights.” More recently, the Correa-allied National Assembly enacted a controversial media law that will further reduce press freedom. The CPJ called it “a severe blow to freedom of expression,” and the Inter-American Press Association described it as a “grave setback for freedom of the press and expression.”

When the Obama administration took office, it seemed to believe that U.S.-Ecuador relations had soured because of the Bush administration’s incompetence and/or ideology. In reality, the deterioration of bilateral ties was a result of Correa’s hostility toward the United States. That hostility is what prompted Edward Snowden to ask the Ecuadorean government for asylum. With Ecuador’s U.S. trade preferences set to expire, will Correa show his pragmatic side? Or will he once again place anti-Americanism ahead of his country’s best interests?

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Jaime Daremblum, who served as Costa Rica’s ambassador to the United States from 1998 to 2004, is director of the Center for Latin American Studies at the Hudson Institute.

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Top Rated Comments   
It's not like Snowden has a real choice of where to go. This is a major problem for every western dissident. If you oppose russian or chinese goverment, you can flee to USA, but if you oppose US goverment, there is simply no country which is better in terms of freedom. Snowden used the "enemy of my enemy" kind of approach, and while he may genuinely believe in civil liberties, this won't do him any good. Stuck in Moscow airport? It's probably because russains in a process of chaffering over the price for his head with NSA.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
We have no idea as to Snowden's true motives. But we do know that Obama Inc. - and this is the crux - is a mirror image of radical revolutionary regimes! Therefore, while it appears to be strange that he may very well end up in a socialist "paradise", the fact of the matter is that the Radical-in-Chief and surrogates are of like mind - http://adinakutnicki.com/2012/10/05/if-it-looks-like-a-socialistmarxistcommunist-plan-it-is-peekingpeeling-back-into-obamas-looking-glass-his-surrogates-too-their-bomblets-waiting-to-explode-commentary-by-adina-kutnicki/

To wit, their orders to NSA for TOTAL domestic spying, in tandem with all the swirling scandals, points in one direction - the reshaping/transforming of America into a totalitarian state. Pot and kettle...as Obama Inc feigns distress at Snowden's "treason".

Adina Kutnicki, Israel http://adinakutnicki.com/about/
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (20)
All Comments   (20)
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I think that it is pretty clear that Snowdon is an American idealist who voted for Obama and was disappointed by all the surveillance he saw and decided he had to do something about it. Very naive guy. But I don't think he has any idea of the international left that Mr. Daremblum outlines so well here. The problem that Mr. Snowdon is discovering is that this anti American demimonde is the only place he can possibly take refuge. As an older expatriate American I would say his tender ideals are in for a severe battering.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"The NSA leaker knows that President Rafael Correa wants to be the next Hugo Chávez."


Dead? I think something like that could be arranged.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Because espionage and terrorism are murky worlds, all we know comes from movies and action novels. The national security side has yet to explain why they need all this data, maybe because it is a secret. Maye because they use it to look up who is Kanye West is zooming on the side. The privacy dorks have yet to explain why it is OK for Verizon to have this data, but not the NSA. This is a brave new world for he pundit class, and they have yet to say anything interesting.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
So… it’s the “privacy dorks” versus the …? Security at any cost jerks?
Verizon does not have the information that the NSA does. Verizon cannot put you in jail. Verizon cannot declare you an enemy of the state, and Verizon cannot legally disappear you. All the government - any of its agencies, NSA, FBI, DEA, BATF, IRS, USMO, Treasury, SS, etc. needs to access any of Verizon’s data is a subpoena.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Sometimes the dorks are right. Sometimes they are paranoid. Sometimes they are drama queens who need to feel important. On this one I just don't know. Google sells my search info and I keep getting popups trying to sell me german cutlery and black dildos made by a guy named Schlomo in Brooklyn. It seems that the NSA could form a fake company and buy this data on the open market. Too much smoke and mirrors in this brave new world.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Simple question time...What Do You Want To Do?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
As somebody who is usually pretty opinionated, on this one I got no freakin' clue.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
We have no leverage over Correa. If he does not sell his oil to the US, he will sell it to someone else. A banana boycott will only hurt the US corporation that grows the bananas.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Sovereign countries can do as they please. If Snowden refuses to face the court we should declare him an outlaw -- that is, outside the protection of the U.S. government, and that as far as we are concerned anyone may freely kill him. Then, if a CIA agent kills him as a warning to others, it will be up to Ecuador to punish that agent if they wish -- if they can catch him.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Why doesn't a single new report say who Snowden worked for? They just say it was a "contractor". Contractors are responsible for safe-guarding the Top Secret information they process. Many of their employees are very careless and this is not reported to the Security group that oversees the Contractor. The reason that security violations are not reported is that it can become a black mark on the Contractors record. Further contracts may not be forthcoming.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I spent a summer in Quito. Snowden won't be safe there from either side. He's a fool.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I've been to Ecuador only once, eight years ago, which was just before the Correa regime started. Quito was already a slightly dangerous place, with a very picturesque centre; Guayaquil was reckoned to be, back then, much less safe than Guatemala City. I don't think the country as a whole was dangerous, back then. I walked the length and breadth of Otavalo, for instance, and found it a really friendly place.

It is the world capital of ornithology. Well, the Peruvians may argue about that, but Jaime Daremblum's own lovely country boasts about seven hundred and fifty bird species, as against Ecuador's eight thousand (that's far more than China, India, Brazil, the US, or the whole of Europe). This is actually an important source of revenue for Ecuador, with Americans and Canadians the biggest contributors.

If Quito deters the wealthy tourists, where does Correa think the money will be coming from? Ecuador has oil, but much less than Mexico (or the Falkland Islands, come to that). It produces bananas, but so does every country in the northern part of South America, or in Central America.

If Correa's relying on subventions from Tehran, he is going to find out, rather soon, that the Iranian economy is a train-wreck, too.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It's not like Snowden has a real choice of where to go. This is a major problem for every western dissident. If you oppose russian or chinese goverment, you can flee to USA, but if you oppose US goverment, there is simply no country which is better in terms of freedom. Snowden used the "enemy of my enemy" kind of approach, and while he may genuinely believe in civil liberties, this won't do him any good. Stuck in Moscow airport? It's probably because russains in a process of chaffering over the price for his head with NSA.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This is a well-researched article, thank you.

To add a bit more flavor, the country has a slew of English-speaking shills, often Irish and quite sleazy, touting Ecuador as a retirement paradise for Americans. Then there's the internet spy software sold to Correa by Israel. And the unintentionally amusing concern of an Ecuadorian business group. “What would we gain from... confirming Ecuador’s international image as an anti-imperialist [sic] country? I don’t think we need that,” one says. No, not when you already have a reputation as a fourth-world shithole, full of starving peasants in colorful Nat'l Geographic clothes headed for Venezuelan-like persecution.

As for the 40pc+ of Ecuador's foreign trade is with the US, even Kerry/State can't screw this one up, you might think. But you'd be wrong. I'd say Snowden chose well.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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