The Guardian tries to answers a number of questions I’ve been asking myself:
Why do whistleblowers go to Ecuador?
The country sheltering Julian Assange is now waiting to welcome Edward Snowden. What is the appeal of Ecuador (apart from the gorgeous scenery and idyllic climate)
Ecuador the country? Yes, that Ecuador, the little democratic republic nestled between Colombia and Peru, known for its snow-capped mountains, dense rainforest and rich history spanning the ancient Incas and independence via colonial struggle and coups.
Oh. I was thinking of the Julian Assange place. That’s also them. Ecuador has been sheltering the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at its embassy in London for more than a year.
And what’s the latest? They could be about to get their hands on another whistleblower.
That Edward Snowden bloke? Yes, him. Ecuador’s foreign minister, Ricardo Patiño Aroca, announced that the country has received an asylum request from Snowden on Sunday.
Does that mean he’s definitely on his way there? His friends at WikiLeaks think so. They released a statement on Sunday saying he was “bound for a democratic nation via a safe route”.
How mysterious. It went on: “Once Mr Snowden arrives in Ecuador his request will be formally processed.”
Less mysterious. What can he expect from life in Ecuador? That depends where he ends up. The three regions – the Costa, Sierra and El Oriente – have their own celebrations, food and culture.
But broadly speaking? Festivals. Loads of festivals. Every city has at least one of its own.
And that’s why whistleblowers choose Ecuador? Probably not, no. More likely because, while Ecuador has signed a bilateral extradition treaty with the US, it considers a few other documents more important.
Such as? Such as the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva Convention. The Ecuadorian government cited both after they granted Assange diplomatic asylum on the grounds he “would not have a fair trial” if extradited to the US.
So Ecuador just happens to love granting asylum? No, not at all. In fact, new laws introduced last year – and earlier in 2010 – have made it far harder for refugees to seek asylum in the country.
But they make space for whistleblowers? If they blow the right whistles. Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, is an outspoken critic of the US government.
What are you implying? Just that he’s unlikely to lose too much sleep if his commitment to human rights involves tweaking US noses so hard it hurts.
Do say: “Land of the free, home of the brave …”
Don’t say: “… wait, sorry, that’s someone else’s song.”?