Full disclosure: I was deported from Ecuador shortly after Rafeal Correa was elected president and have been following his political career closely ever since. I also met him when he was president-elect.
Last week Ecuador’s president, Rafeal Correa, was once more in the news for his courageous aid of a whistleblower. With the help of travel documents from Ecuador, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden made it safely out of Hong Kong and into Moscow. Yesterday Rafael Correa renounced his government’s involvement at all and left Snowden hanging in the transit zone of Moscow airport.
One year ago, as Correa was making global headlines for granting asylym to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange he was simultaneously crushing free speech in his own nation, but the focus always remained on Assange. This time the fickle nature of Correa’s principles are much more transparent.
“I must express my deep respect for your principles and sincere thanks for your government’s action in considering my request for political asylum,” Snowden said, according to a letter obtained yesterday by the Press Association news agency, based in London. “There are few world leaders who would risk standing for the human rights of an individual against the most powerful government on earth, and the bravery of Ecuador and its people is an example to the world.” Mere hours later, Correa was renouncing the relationship. But why the sudden change of heart? The image presented in Snowden’s letter is just the type Correa has worked hard to cultivate.
Correa has acknowledged that he had a very friendly conversation with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden about the issue over the weekend, so it’s reasonable to assume the U.S. offered him something more attractive than more media attention.
Another possibility being reported is that Correa is upset that he has to share the spotlight with Julian Assange. Ecuador’s president has a history of throwing hissy fits when things don’t go his way. There are numerous examples, including one such temper tantrum caught on video.
In September 2010, when police officers protested salary cuts, Correa made a surprise appearance at Police Headquarters and chastised the police. He quickly lost his cool and began shouting at them. “You want to kill the president? Here I am!” he yelled into the microphone and ripped his shirt open. “Kill me if you like, kill me if you’re brave, instead of being cowards, hiding like cowards!”
Watch the video: