Anita Isaacs, who studies Ecuadorian politics, has an op-ed in the New York Times arguing that the Assange case is a way for Rafael Correa to take a bigger international role.
In asserting Ecuadorean sovereignty and defying the United States, President Correa is also vying for hemispheric leadership. The declining health of Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chávez, who has been battling cancer for over a year now, has created a potential opening in Latin America for someone else to move in as the standard-bearer of leftist, populist and nationalist opposition to the United States.
I'm not as sure of this. It could be seen as unique because of Wikileaks, which is what drew Correa's attention to the Assange case in the first place. Whether this is a new trend or not, Britain's refusal to rule out the use of force was a terrible idea, and gave Correa the opportunity to convene Unasur and make a big point about international rights through a formal declaration.