Friday, August 17, 2012

Assange & Ecuador

I'm quoted in this Los Angeles Times article on Julian Assange and Ecuador. What a weird story. Given that   opposition was already growing in the U.S. Congress to extending the Andean Trade Preference Act for Ecuador--it expires in 2013--we can reasonably expect this to be the last straw (Bolivia already experienced the same a few years ago).

Rafael Correa hasn't stuck his neck out all that much globally, so this is a new step for him. Indeed, even for crises in Honduras or Paraguay, other Latin American governments took the lead. But right now this seems a no-lose situation for him. If Assange gets out, he can claim to be protecting the whistle-blower from imperial powers. If the UK really busts into the embassy, he'll get a boatload of international sympathy. If (or when, really) the U.S. punishes him, then he'll score regional points.

It is ironic, however, that he will be harboring someone whose stated goal is total free speech, while Correa himself has sued media outlets for their statements and otherwise harassed opposition media. If Assange keeps quiet about it for his own personal sake, then the hypocrisy will be even more full blown.

Update: it was pointed out to me that Correa took the lead on the OAS/Cuba flap a few months ago. Fair enough, though I would argue that is not on the same level.


Anonymous,  11:14 AM  

This is bad political theater. The Latin American countries don't have a dog in this fight (of Correa's choosing). The supposed protection of Assange is a ritualistic exercise for them that uses anti-American staging to score points in domestic polls. It seemingly burnishes nationalist credentials, albeit through regional solidarity. The truth is that if the large and more influential countries such as Brazil, Chile, and Mexico wanted to combat Washington's influence (or UK) in the region, it would come at an actual price. They simply won't pay it. Instead the relations between the US and the major countries continues as ever. The US diplomats yawn.

SwampNigger 10:03 PM  

Greg, you misrepresent Assange's core position--he has never advocated total transparency. His position is nuanced and connected with contexts.

Should powerful people and countries be allowed to engage criminal behavior without being questioned and exposed?

There is a 'might makes right' acceptance of the status quo that is palpable among corporate and state insitutions undergirding the framing of this situation.

More, as per Eudador and freedom of expression--are the wealthy aligned with US imperialism supposed to be protected when they engage destabilization through blatant disinformation campaigns?

Should freedom to express ideas to the broad population be allowed to be a function of class and corporate power?--tipping the scales decidedly on the side of the wealthy classes and foreign allies?

Judging the general freedom to express ideas in the context of various constraints and coercion would require an open and in-depth discussion of the context, the culture, sociology,etc.

This is what the dominant propaganda sustained by the structures of oppression functions to stifle--an honest and deep discussion that is rooted in democratic values.

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