Ecuador – Rafael Correa’s defence of human rights full of contradictions

from the Financial Times..

June 24, 2013

By John Paul Rathbone in London and Andres Schipani in Bogotá

Ecuador's President Rafael Correa

Should Edward Snowden successfully find political asylum in Quito, he will find warmer weather than in Moscow, better food than in Havana and more security than in Caracas – three other locales mentioned as potential hideaways for the former US intelligence official now on the lam.

But in Quito, nestled in a high Andean valley under snow-capped volcanoes, Mr Snowden will also no doubt meet Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa, a leftist strongman full of contradictions.

Mr Correa often berates the US – even though the Ecuadorean economy is pegged to the US dollar. He is often linked to the region’s Hugo Chávez-Evo Morales-Daniel Ortega trio of muscular leftist leaders, although anyone who has met Mr Correa acknowledges he has a quick mind, and a solid training as an economist (he received his PhD in economics from the University of Illinois).

More significantly, Mr Correa has made the defence of human rights part of his international rallying cry – by, for example, offering WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange asylum at the Ecuadorean embassy in London – even as he has curbed press freedoms at home with a new media bill, called a “gag law” by press freedom groups and opposition lawmakers.

The irony escapes no one – except perhaps for Mr Assange and Mr Correa himself. In an interview with the Financial Times in February, while Mr Correa was still aglow after winning presidential elections by a landslide, he described the Ecuadorean press (and not wholly without good reason) as “less a case of communication media like in the UK . . . and more a case of opposition media defending its own very particular interests.”


“It is ever less credible that a government that has shut and punished critical voices at home, is now erecting itself as a paladin of transparency and home of the free circulation of ideas,” said Mr Ricaurte…

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