Where Is Edward Snowden: Ecuador Stands Up to America — and Tells Us to Start Respecting Human Rights

As the Edward Snowden drama continues on, the United States is doing everything it can to catch him before he reaches asylum … including threatening foreign countries. The U.S. has been lambasting countries that have offered Snowden asylum, including China, Russia, and now Ecuador.

"I have not called President Xi personally or President Putin personally and the reason is ... number one, I shouldn't have to," President Obama remarked sharply at a news conference in Dakar.

The Washington Post described Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa as “the autocratic leader of a tiny, impoverished” country with ambitions to take over the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s role as “the hemisphere’s preeminent anti-U.S. demagogue.”

“They’ve managed to focus attention on Snowden and on the ‘wicked’ countries that ‘support’ him, making us forget the terrible things against the U.S. people and the whole world that he denounced,” Correa said of the U.S. government.

Ecuador has not yet officially decided to grant Snowden asylum. However, that has not stopped the U.S. government from trying to pressure Ecuador into turning him away. After the United States threatened to remove its trade agreement with Ecuador, called ATPDEA, Ecuador turned around and called the U.S.’s bluff. “Ecuador doesn’t accept pressure or threats from anyone and doesn’t barter its principles and sovereignty or submit to mercantile interests,” Correa said today in a speech in the central province of Los Rios.

ATPDEA, the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act, is due to expire next month. It allows Ecuador to export goods to the U.S. duty-free, giving the country free access to the largest market in the world.

If the U.S. does not renew the act, Ecuador would lose at least 40,000 jobs. Though most of Ecuador’s exports to the U.S. are in oil, there are more labor-intensive products sold such as hand-cut flowers, broccoli, and shrimp.

Ecuador’s Communications Secretary Fernando Alvarado called U.S. pressure “blackmail.” According to his statement today, Ecuador is offering the U.S. $23 million to provide human rights training to combat torture, illegal executions, and attacks on people’s privacy.

This is approximately the same amount that the U.S. provides under ATPDEA, meaning that Ecuador’s economy will not be crippled after having renounced ATPDEA today. However, local producers and exporters will be less competitive than their regional counterparts with the loss of the trade agreement.  

However, it may be that making a political stand against the U.S. is worth the hit to Ecuador’s economy. America is entering an economic and political decline and cannot retain its status as the world’s hegemon. Hopefully this spat with Ecuador will help teach us that in order to achieve our goals in the future, we can no longer resort to threats and blackmail. 

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Heather Hartlaub

Heather is a recent grad from St. Lawrence University with a degree in Middle Eastern History and Arabic. Raised around the world as a military brat, she loves foreign policy, kebseh, and crossword puzzles.

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