Irrespective of the repercussions a small country like Ecuador may have going against the United States, support here for Julian Assanges’ asylum bid is extremely high. An online poll by the Ecuadorian newspaper El Telegrapho shows up to 93.7% of people believe Assange should be given safe assage out of Great Britain.
This percentage is even higher than Rafael Correas approval rate itself that fluctuates in the high 70% range which seemingly means this is a non-partisan issue in Ecuador.
I did however overhear in a restaurant in the city of Coca one policeman say to another, “you see Correa has given asylum to that terrorist.”
This reaction may be explained by the conflict of between the police and the president when Rafael Correa was kidnapped by police after he took away their work benefits.
Ecuadors position is much stronger now that it has received the backing of South Americas 12 nation union which condemned the threat against its embassy. The OAS which meets on August 24th should have a similar position.
I have noticed the western mainstream media outlets have already begun to paint Rafael Correa in a bad light. Some of the hit-jobs have come from surprising places like www.foreignpolicy.com which normally has pretty balanced and informative political analysis but resorts to ad hominem smears whenever it comes to Julian Assange.
The best place to stay informed on the situation about Freedom of Expression in Ecuador and around the world is the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) which has been monitoring the situation in Ecuador before Julian Assange stepped into their London Embassy.
This recent article on IFEX about Correa withdraws government advertising from private media demonstrates the complexity between Freedom of Expression and letting Ecuadors incredibly powerful and corrupt oligarchs smear anyone who doesnt agree with their interests.
“From now on you will no longer place official advertising on the mercantilist media, because there is no reason why we, with the money of all Ecuadorians, should benefit businesses that belong to six families in this country” – Rafael Correa
If you havent seen it already then you should check out the interview on The World Tomorrow where Assange and Correa met for the first time. In it Rafael Correa explains his opinion on Ecuadors oligarchy that owns the banks and press in the country.
I do think Rafael Correa has played the current stand off with Great Britain very smart. By letting his own foreign minister Ricardo Patino make much of the international limelight for his speeches when granting Assange asylum and calling for the meetings in OAS and USAN. This has made it much harder for the mainstream media to draw comparisons between Correa and Chavez who has surrounded himself with the cult of personality of a soi-disant Bolivarian revolutionary.
For the full video of speeches outside the Ecuadorian Embassy: