Thursday, August 22, 2013

Leakers and "Terrorists" in Latin America

The head of intelligence in Ecuador has asked the legislature to enact new laws criminalizing the leaking of classified information. Of course, Ecuador is letting Julian Assange stay in its British embassy for...the leaking of classified information. Let the irony begin.

Along these lines, Mark Weisbrot wrote an op-ed in the Guardian saying that Europe should take a page from Latin America's foreign policy book and remain independent from the United States. I am very sympathetic to his argument, as the treatment of both Evo Morales and David Miranda is sickening (though the idea that Europe hasn't had an independent foreign policy in 70 years forgets the reaction to the second Iraq War). But I feel like this really misses the essential point, which is that we need to universally condemn governments' uses of secrecy and terrorism laws (Miranda was held in Britain by a terrorism law) to go after people it just doesn't like.

The Chilean case is probably the most widely reported, as center-left governments (and now a center-right one) use Pinochet terrorism laws to persecute Mapuche. That's much more important to emphasize than whether Chile issues a statement in support of Edward Snowden or Evo Morales.

Indeed, what I would like to see is a study of all such laws around Latin America. How do relatively new and pretty broad terrorism laws in Venezuela get implemented? Anti-terrorism legislation in Honduras is also broad. There are concerns about a similar proposed law in Mexico. These laws are sprinkled around everywhere. Unfortunately, contra Weisbrot, they represent not independence from the U.S. but rather going along with it (or maybe even copying it).

That's a much more important story.


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