It's probably not the wisest thing to do, but at least Ecuador may be accepting the consequences of putting its foot in its mouth. Famously harbouring WikiLeaks' Julian Assange in its London embassy, it appears ready to up the stakes in testing America's (quite frankly idiotic) "Internet Freedom" concept by also harbouring former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. He famously leaked documents showing massive data gathering on Internet users on behalf of the US government and is under a global interdict from US authorities.
While this erstwhile hero to the nerdcore set has been sitting around in a Moscow airport waiting for a flight to Ecuador, a US senator threatened to remove American trade preferences granted to Andean nations:
The head of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee said on Wednesday he would seek to end preferential treatment for Ecuadorean goods if the South American nation offers political asylum to fugitive former spy agency contractor Edward Snowden.The trade preferences, by the way, are a continuation of a 1991 pact (the Andean Trade Preference Act) wherein the US granted Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru improved access to the American market in exchange for better cooperation fighting drug production. In Iran-Contra lingo, it was a "trade for drugs" deal. As it turns out, it needs to be renewed every two years by lawmakers, thus occasioning Menendez's threat of non-renewal the next time around. Given its meagre trade, Ecuador benefited from this trade benefit with the US significantly as demonstrated by lobbying quite hard to continue it despite a steady stream of anti-American rhetoric. Really, Correa, like his purported opponents, is quite the hypocrite.
Senator Robert Menendez [D-New Jersey], chairman of the foreign relations panel, warned in a statement that accepting Snowden "would severely jeopardize" preferential trade access the United States provides to Ecuador under two programs that are up for renewal in Congress. Our government will not reward countries for bad behavior," Menendez said.
But I suppose things may have changed and Latin brio has overcome common sense: Ecuador's government has recently said, "go ahead, make my day":
Ecuador's leftist government thumbed its nose at Washington on Thursday by renouncing U.S. trade benefits and offering to pay for human rights training in America in response to pressure over asylum for former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden. The angry response threatens a showdown between the two nations over Snowden, and may burnish President Rafael Correa's credentials to be the continent's principal challenger of U.S. power after the death of Venezuelan socialist leader Hugo Chavez.I especially like the part about how Ecuador will gladly pay for the human rights training of Americans who keep yakking about them while acting in...let's just say inconsistent ways:
"Ecuador will not accept pressures or threats from anyone, and it does not traffic in its values or allow them to be subjugated to mercantile interests," government spokesman Fernando Alvarado said at a news conference.
In a cheeky jab at the U.S. spying program that Snowden unveiled through leaks to the media, the South American nation offered $23 million per year to finance human rights training.
The funding would be destined to help "avoid violations of privacy, torture and other actions that are denigrating to humanity," Alvarado said. He said the amount was the equivalent of what Ecuador gained each year from the trade benefits.The Latin Left is alive and well. If it weren't, then nobody would be making PR stunts of this nature to contest the seat vacated by the late Hugo Chavez. That said, let's just say that Ecuador has some way to go before topping Chavez's stunt of subsidizing heating oil purchases of poor Americans via the CITGO subsidiary of state-owned firm PVDSA.
Meanwhile, like his immediate predecessor, Obama should just shut the hell up and think before making more retarded statements about "Internet freedom" and so on if his government is always so hellbent on prosecuting these evildoers. Making folk heroes out of ninnies is a quintessentially American government pastime. This guy isn't even on Ecuadorean soil, fer cryin' out loud.
UPDATE: Note that the US has already cut Andean Trade Preference Act benefits with Bolivia, another repeat transgressor of the Will of America. However, Bolivia's case was over its nonchalance in combating drug production there whereas Ecuador's concerns...unusual and unrelated things.