Washington Post: Let’s Punish Ecuador (Again)

President Rafael Correa

President Rafael Correa

Today the Washington Post editorial page (6/25/13) slammed Ecuador for daring to consider an asylum request from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.  The Post declared:

When it comes to anti-American chutzpah, there’s no beating Rafael Correa, the autocratic leader of tiny, impoverished Ecuador.

Correa is the overwhelmingly popular, democratically elected president of a country that has experienced remarkable growth over his time in office. The Post, clearly missing its old left-wing Latin American target, sneers that “replacing the deceased Hugo Chavez as the hemisphere’s preeminent anti-U.S. demagogue” is Correa’s mission.

The paper slams Correa’s record on press freedom, and notes that there is a solution here for the United States:

Some might find it awkward to be granting sanctuary to one country’s self-proclaimed whistleblower while stifling their own. Not Mr. Correa, who for years has been campaigning against the United States while depending on it to prop up his economy with trade preferences. Thanks to the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Protection Act, Ecuador–which uses the dollar as its currency–is able to export many goods to the United States duty-free, supporting roughly 400,000 jobs in a country of 14 million people.

As it happens, the preferences will expire next month unless renewed by Congress. If Mr. Correa welcomes Mr. Snowden, there will be an easy way to demonstrate that Yanqui-baiting has its price.

So do what the U.S. government wants, or we’ll see to it that your economy suffers. Huh.

This had a familiar ring. Sure enough, the Post‘s editorial page made the very same recommendation back when Correa’s government was considering granting asylum to Julian Assange of WikiLeaks. That led the Post (6/20/12) to blast Correa as “a small-time South American autocrat” looking to supplant Chavez as “chief Yanqui-baiter and friend-to-rogues.” And, like today, the Post offers the U.S. government a solution:

There is one potential check on Mr. Correa’s ambitions. The U.S. “empire” he professes to despise happens to grant Ecuador (which uses the dollar as its currency) special trade preferences that allow it to export many goods duty-free. A full third of Ecuadoran foreign sales ($10 billion in 2011) go to the United States, supporting some 400,000 jobs in a country of 14 million people. Those preferences come up for renewal by Congress early next year. If Mr. Correa seeks to appoint himself America’s chief Latin American enemy and Julian Assange’s protector between now and then, it’s not hard to imagine the outcome.

It’s good that someone at the Post‘s editorial page knows how to copy and paste.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.