Gustavo Perez-Ramirez, PhD, is a Colombian historian, journalist and social activist who lives in Ecuador. He is a columnist for El Telegrafo, Ecuador’s state-funded newspaper. Dr. Perez-Ramirez is the author of many books on Latin American history and politics, including a biography of the assassinated revolutionary priest Camillo Torres in Colombia. He is also the former director of technical cooperation in the Population Division of the United Nations. Dr. Perez-Ramirez spoke today with the Southern Pacific Review on the matter of National Security Administration whistle blower, Edward Snowden, who has petitioned the Ecuadorian government for asylum.
I believe that Edward Snowden is a very courageous and principled young man. Having become aware that the CIA, to whom he was contracted as an intelligence agent, was committing a crime of espionage upon citizens, not only of the United States, but around the world, through its monitoring of Google, Facebook, Skype and Verizon, he made a complaint. Now he seeks refuge in another country in the face of life imprisonment or even the death penalty.
I make this claim based on what Snowden himself has stated, that “the US government has initiated an intense campaign against me, calling me traitor”. Charges included “relate to the espionage Act of 1917. My case is similar to that of Private Bradley Manning’s”.
Snowden claimed that it would be impossible to have a fair trial in the United States. The government will exhaust all resources to convict him as a traitor. It would not be surprising to have drones aimed at him wherever he may be.
As Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño said at a press conference in Hanoi, Vietnam, where is on an official visit, the Ecuadorian government is, with great responsibility, reviewing Snowden’s petition for asylum, and will make a decision regarding the ex-contractor of the U.S. intelligence agency, who is accused of spying, at the “right time”, and putting above all other considerations the principle of human rights. “Above all else,” the Foreign Minister said, “the principles embodied by the declaration of human rights shall be placed be above all other interests”.
Patiño says he is maintaining “respectful” contact with Russia, where Snowden is held up currently, and that he also is acknowledging Washington’s position regarding the young man, comparing his case with that of the “persecution” of Private Bradley Manning, accused of passing on U.S. data secrets to the WikiLeaks web page.
I am in agreement with the intelligent content and mature manner in Chancellor Patiño’s explanation, especially his challenge to the concept of treason on behalf of the U.S. government. He added that “the apparent surveillance done by the United States towards foreign nations constitutes an abuse of rights against the entire world.
In my opinion it is scandalous that the USA under the Obama administration has revived gunboat diplomacy, with threats to Russia, China and any other country offering asylum to the young man, when it is this government which must provide explanations to countries of the world for this espionage that violates human rights.
Ecuador already is sovereign and acts on the basis of the principles of the constitution of 2008 of Montecristi, one of the most advanced today, that even recognizes the rights of nature. The Chancellor spoke well regarding how a decision will be made on the basis of principles, a sovereignty that takes into account consequences, undeterred. Obama should forget about reclaiming the backyard known as South America. In Latin America and the Caribbean there is dignity and a rejection of any form of neocolonialism.