Latin America

Ecuador abandons US trade deal citing blackmail on asylum issue

Ecuador abandons US trade deal citing blackmail on asylum issue
Ecuador has unilaterally renounced its US trade benefits, insisting that it refuses to submit to Washington threats over its willingness to offer asylum to leaker of NSA electronic spying bids Edward Snowden.

“Ecuador doesn’t accept pressure or threats from anyone and doesn’t barter its principles and sovereignty or submit to mercantile interests,” the nation’s President Rafael Correa said Thursday during a speech in the central province of Los Rios.

What Snowden revealed, President Correa added, “is a terrible case of massive espionage, both nationally and internationally that clearly threatens the right to intimacy and the sovereignty of states.”

The move came just a day after Chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Robert Menendez, a staunchly pro-Israeli New Jersey Democrat, pledged to do his utmost to block trade benefits for Ecuador should it grant Snowden political asylum.

“Our government will not reward countries for bad behavior,” said Senator Menendez in a statement on Wednesday. “Trade preferences are a privilege granted to nations, not a right.”

Such threats by Menendez and other US politicians as well as some major media outlets come amid reports that American lawmakers had already considered cutting trade deals with Ecuador due to its good ties with the Islamic Republic of Iran, according to a Washington Post report on Friday.

In an apparent response to recent Washington bullying, Ecuador’s Communications Minister Fernando Alvarado pushed back at growing efforts by US media and political circles to influence a possible decision by Quito on the asylum issue, insisting that his nations refuses to accept threats or “trade its principles” for commercial benefits.

Ecuador “doesn’t accept pressure or threats from anybody, and it doesn’t trade its principles or give them up for commercial interests, no matter how important,” Alvarado reportedly said at a news conference on Thursday.

Further ridiculing recent Washington threats and allegations against Quito, Alvarado described US trade preferences as a “new instrument of blackmail” and added that Ecuador is offering the United Stated USD23 million to provide human rights training to combat torture, illegal executions and attacks on people’s privacy.

Meanwhile, President Correa further stated on Thursday that Snowden would have to either land in Ecuador or get inside one of its embassies to have his asylum request processed. Snowden “is not in Ecuadorian territory so, technically, we cannot process his request,” the president added.

This is while Correa also blasted mainstream US media outlets on Wednesday for their harsh criticism of his country for possible granting of asylum to leaker of NSA’s massive electronic surveillance operations in the US and abroad.

“They’ve managed to focus attention on Snowden and on the ‘wicked’ countries that ‘support’ him, making us forget the terrible things against the US people and the whole world that he denounced,” Correa stated in online remarks Wednesday in response to a Tuesday editorial by liberal US-based daily Washington Post.

The world order isn’t only unjust, it’s immoral,” Correa added.

The Post alleged that Correa was adhering to double standards in the case of NSA leaker, since Ecuador is considering harboring Snowden from prosecution over criminal espionage charges leveled against him by the US government.

It further descried the Ecuadoran president as “the autocratic leader of a tiny, impoverished” country with an ambition to replace the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez as “the hemisphere’s preeminent anti-US demagogue.”

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