Wanted In The US: Ecuadorian Courage

As the saga of Edward Snowden Wanted: Dead Or Alive continues in the media, it has been amazing to see how other people act in comparison to our American rulers.

I don’t know much about Ecuador. Frankly, I doubt I would consider its government a stellar example of how justice should be enforced and respected. Perhaps I am completely wrong, but that would be my guess at this point.

I’ve heard people put down Ecuador, saying that it was hardly a bastion of journalistic freedom. They say this to disparage Edward Snowden for attempting to gain a safe haven there so he won’t be snatched by United States gunmen (and gun-women, I assume) and brought back to the Homeland to face “justice.”

Edward Snowden’s fate is what makes these snarks about choosing to hide in China or Russia or seek refuge in Ecuador so perverse and wrong. Snowden no longer has the alternatives of living with his remaining freedoms in the United States or living in civil society as it exists in Ecuador or any other country. His choice is between living with whatever freedoms are acknowledged in Ecuador and living in a maximum security prison in the United States. It may be barely possible he could win his case in court. I certainly think he deserves to. But it is highly doubtful. He can’t assume the best. The choice he has is between relative freedom in Ecuador or some similar country, and the slavery of the US prison system.

In contrast to that snarky accusation, I have to say that the Ecuadorian government is showing more honor than I would ever have expected. US politicians have been talking about stopping Ecuador’s trade preferences, which have been given to them every year since the passing of the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act. Ecuador has saved them the trouble.

“Ecuador… renounced its U.S. trade benefits today, saying they were being used as ‘blackmail.’ ‘Ecuador doesn’t accept pressure or threats from anyone,’ Communications Secretary Fernando Alvarado said in a statement published in the presidential gazette. ‘It doesn’t barter its principles or submit to mercantile interests, however important they may be.’”

According to the story, Ecuador is going to lose at least 40,000 jobs. Nevertheless, they also are offering the US a large sum of money:

“Alvarado, who called the trade preferences a ‘new instrument of blackmail,’ said Ecuador’s government is offering the U.S. $23 million, an amount similar to what the U.S. provides under the ATPDEA deal, to provide human rights training to combat torture, illegal executions and attacks on peoples’ privacy.”

I have to wonder if Ecuador is bluffing. Time will tell. But think of how much whining we heard about the sequester, and how Congress balks at any budget cut, or even at restricting foreign aid to Egypt. The Ecuadorian government sounds like it is made up of people with more personal strength and honor than almost anyone who holds office in the US Federal Government.