It has been some time that I post on Ecuador and its dictator, Rafael Correa. There are a lot of things happening down there that, daily, continue to erode basic freedoms such as private property rights, rule of law, and the right to speak your mind without government meddling, among many other things.
Therefore I was somewhat surprised this morning to read in the Miami Herald that Wikileaks felon, Julian Assange, is seeking asylum in Ecuador. Ecuador? Why bother moving to a country that does things to people he claims to be fighting against? But when you think about it some more, it makes sense.
Both Correa and Assange are lawless figures who harbor a great deal of animosity toward the United States and the West. Correa needs as much leverage as he can muster to use against the United States at the negotiating table. Yes, we still negotiate with this fellow on many things despite the fact that Ecuador has been undermining U.S. interests in the Andean region for many years. If he allows Assange to hide out in Ecuador, he may think he could use his presence to, among other things, extract concessions from Uncle Sam.
There could be other reasons Correa would allow this felon to live in Ecuador, but blackmailing the United States and our regional allies seems the most likely reason to do so. Maybe Assange plans, or will be asked, to sell illegally obtained information to Ecuador and her allies, Bolivarian Axis countries that led by Cuba and Venezuela. Assange would feel right at home really, even if under surveillance by the Ecuadorean government. He could become a celebrity hacker on the Bolivarian payroll.
In our pantheon of national security and foreign policy priorities, Ecuador is going beyond being a mere nuisance. Links to Iran, Colombian terrorists, and other nefarious global actors warrant as much. Granting Assange entry would be consistent with Ecuador’s long-term quixotic Bolivarian vision of blunting regional U.S. influence. Ecuador is becoming a regional problem and we should be clamping down on the regime through targeted economic sanctions. A good start would be not to renew Ecuador’s trade preferences with the United States.