Daily Israel Report

Rafael Correa Wants To Stem Leftist Disenchantment Via Assange

Ecuador's Rafael Correa may help Julian Assange to reestablish leftist credibility.
By Amiel Ungar
First Publish: 8/17/2012, 6:10 AM

Assange, Correa
Assange, Correa
Reuters

We are still awaiting the decision by the President of Ecuador Rafael Correa regarding the case of Wiki Leaks founder Julian Assange and whether he will be political asylum or diplomatic asylum.

Even if Ecuador decides to grant Assange political asylum, the British have already announced that they will not allow him to leave the embassy of Ecuador in London and enjoy free passage to Ecuador. If he leaves he embassy, they intend to arrest Assange and extradite him to Sweden. They have even ramped up the pressure by telling Ecuador that they could review the embassy status and allow armed British police to storm the embassy and take bail jumper Assange into custody for extradition to Sweden where he faces rape charges.

The best case scenario for Assange is that he will be a long-term guest of the embassy paralleling the story of Hungarian Cardinal Joszef Mindszenty, who spent 15 years in the American Embassy of Budapest with the suppression of the Hungarian revolution of 1956.

What makes Ecuador willing to grant political asylum? For Rafael Correa, an ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, is this is a way of poking a finger into  America's' eye?

Christian Assange, the mother of Julian Assange and an Australian national, visited Ecuador to plead for her son, claiming that the Americans wanted to get their hands on him in order to execute him for disclosing top-secret documents. She was accompanied by former Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon, who was instrumental in having Chile's former dictator Augusto Pinochet arrested in London and was ejected for violating a pact reached upon Spain's return to democracy, when he began probing the crimes of the Franco era in Spain.

Rafael Correa was once a darling of the left. He was a staunch opponent of globalization, claiming that it had reinforced Latin American poverty and dependence. He repudiated and defaulted a large chunk of Ecuador's foreign debt, claiming that it was illegitimate. For some of the debt, he offered restructuring that would result in the repayment of less than $0.30 on the dollar. He also took on the Chevron oil company, encouraging a private suit after the government and Ecuador and Chevron had already settled on an amount.

Some also viewed him as an ecology defender who refused to knuckle under to the oil companies and thus protected the country's biodiversity against rapacious developers.

Lately, however, the left has become disenchanted with Rafael Correa. He may have been the scourge of Western oil companies but he has been more than welcoming to Chinese oil companies. He has arbitrarily backed grandiose projects, although their ecological impact is questionable. He has been accused of constricting freedom of the press and gone back on promises to assist the country's native Indian population.

By playing they protector of Wiki Leaks founder Assange, Rafael Correa expects to reclaim his hero's role in the international left and to pose as the ultimate defender of press freedom.