Wednesday, January 08, 2014

More on Snowden and Brazil

Edward Snowden's desire to obtain asylum in Latin America remains news. Lourdes Garcia-Navarro has a story on NPR surveying the landscape in Brazil on the matter. I wrote about this a few weeks ago, and in general agree with Julia Sweig's conclusion.

Julia Sweig, director of Latin America studies for the Council on Foreign Relations, says while Snowden is a popular figure in Brazil, his fate is not at the top of the agenda. 
"I don't think the Brazilian public is, by and large, looking to pick a big public fight with the United States," she says, adding that asylum for Snowden would be a "bridge too far" for Brazil.

I am still skeptical with the generalization that he is a "popular "figure" but maybe he is. Either way, a very relevant point the story makes is that Dilma Rousseff has already responded by not coming to the United States for a state visit and making critical remarks. It is entirely possible that she feels there is nothing more to say or do. Snowden, meanwhile, still has not actually requested asylum, choosing instead to do a little dancing to see if he can prompt Brazil to state its willingness before receiving a request, though it has already indicated it won't do so.

Sorting this out requires one basic question--what does Rousseff have to gain by giving Snowden asylum? We know it will create a problem with the United States, but what political boost does she get? Mostly it would mean confirming anti-U.S. and independent-minded bona fides, but I can't see how that gets her much more than what she already has.

In all this, we should also keep in mind that Snowden already had an offer from Venezuela. I can't say for certain it is still on the table, but it doesn't take a genius to see that it's not a stable place to be. He also had offers from Bolivia and Nicaragua, and as far as I know never even acknowledged them. Ecuador and Cuba have already made clear they're not eager to have him, but I guess he wouldn't want either country anyway.


Randy Paul,  3:33 PM  

Dilma's popularity is rebounding after a decline last year, so I don't think she wants to do anything to rock the boat. Ultimately, there's really no apparent benefit for her to do so and the risk would be too great.

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