'Petty' Games within
Games at the Ecuadorian Embassy (Le Figaro, France)
address Julian Assange delivered from a balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy, just
a few meters from British police, may seem comical. But it is part of a much
bigger and pernicious game that can be summarized in four points: The ambition
of Rafael Correa, the risks of extradition to the United States, British
arrogance, and free expression in Ecuador."
What's going on at the embassy of Ecuador in London, in a
modest apartment on the ground floor of a building near the famed Harrods Department
Store? What does it mean for Rafael Correa and the Ecuadorian authorities, which
granted political asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange last Wednesday,
and who has been holed up in their embassy since the beginning of June, that London
has questioned the diplomatic status of the embassy and threatened to enter the
building and arrest the WikiLeaks boss?
As far as London is concerned, Julian Assange is a common
criminal accused of rape in Sweden, and is to be extradited to that country. It
is not the purpose of diplomatic representatives to protect this type of
criminal. But advocates of Julian Assange underline the fact that he is also
accused of aggravated espionage by the United States, for leaking thousands of
diplomatic cables from U.S. representatives around the world.
While the cables revealed nothing sensational, they are highly-instructive
in terms of how the U.S. authorities regard governments and opposition groups
across the world. Thus, comments about the Cuban opposition were particularly
pleasing the Cuban government, as they showed the dissidents to be out of touch
with the population and only interested in the cash handouts from Washington.
The public address Julian Assange delivered yesterday from a
balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy, just a few meters from British police, may seem
comical. But it is part of a much bigger and pernicious game that can be summarized
in four points.
-- The ambition of
Rafael Correa. The Bolivarian leadership exercised by Hugo Chavez never quite
suited the Ecuadorean head of state, and has probably always annoyed him. For
years, the Ecuadorian administration has pushed for a central role for Quito in
the Bolivarian Alliance and Latin-American diplomacy, even if that has meant at
times minimizing the role of Caracas. And the creation of the "SUCRE" as a currency for
commercial exchange among the countries of ALBA [Bolivarian
Alliance for the Americas] is "an Ecuadorian idea" that has
rallied the other states in the regional alliance. [SUCRE stands for SistemaÚnico de Compensación Regional - or in English, Unified System
for Regional Compensation.]
The Venezuelan president is campaigning for the upcoming
presidential election on October 7, while weakened by a cancer that has
necessitated several surgeries in Cuba. This has left the international field open
to Ecuador President Rafael Correa. The Assange affair has come just in time to
allow President Correa to boost his international prestige and for all the Latin
American countries to rally around him as he confronts the old-line powers - especially
the United States.
Posted by Worldmeets.US
- The risks of
extradition to the United States. It is very likely that once Julian
Assange is extradited to Sweden, the country will respond positively to an
extradition request from Washington for acts of such extreme gravity, and for which
he could face life in prison or even the death penalty. The offences in
question are the dissemination of diplomatic cables that in theory are top secret,
but in reality are mostly trivial. The cables from American embassies posted by
WikiLeaks have mainly exposed the mediocrity of their content and raise
concerns about Washington’s ability to understand the world around it.
- British arrogance.
This affair highlights the unparalleled arrogance of British diplomacy. Ecuadorian
diplomacy did not over-interpret London’s language: Great Britain openly
threatened to come and arrest Julian Assange on Ecuadorian diplomatic premises.
Such British arrogance should come as no surprise after London’s latest
declarations about Gibraltar or the Malvinas (Malvinas to Argentines, Falklands
for our English friends, but Malouines for the French
- in reference to the seaman from St. Malo
who were the first to step foot on these particularly inhospitable islands).
- Rafael Correa and free expression. That the Ecuadorian president is wrapping himself in the garb
of a defender of free speech and is coming to the rescue of Julian Assange may
seem surprising. Not long ago he
had the country’s leading newspaper [El Universo] fined
tens of millions of dollars [$42 million], threatening the daily's very
survival, before pardoning it. He also sued journalists who published an
extensive investigation into his brother.
Rafael Correa's defense of Julian Assange boils down to the
simple idea that the enemies of our enemies are our enemies. Pity … Ecuadorian
diplomacy as led by Ricardo Patino deserves better
than such petty wrangling. The defense of the Yasuni oil project or the condemnation of
Chevron-Texaco seem more newsworthy than the fate of Julian Assange.