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Ecuador offers U.S. rights aid, waives trade benefits (reuters.com)
296 points by dllthomas 1573 days ago | hide | past | web | 148 comments | favorite

Nice! That's a classy move right there.

Edit: further context:

>Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, promised Wednesday that he would block renewal of the pact should Snowden be granted asylum.

>"Our government will not reward countries for bad behavior," he said in a statement, following other lawmakers who have spent years saying that the pact should be allowed to lapse, partly down to the country's links with Iran. [1]

If my tentative understanding of events is correct, this economic act of aggression (which would have hurt innocent civilians - does the US even care about that anymore?) was the main form of likely retaliation the US would have pulled in response to Snowden being granted asylum. Preempting this move by giving up the preferential treatment is, IMO, a very astute move by the Ecuadorian government, and puts America in a position of not having that leg to stand on.

[1] http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/26/us-usa-security-sn...

I'm ashamed to say that Menendez is my ass of a senator.

For the American people, this is also adding insult to injury. This punishment doesn't only hit the Ecuadorian people, it also hits Americans. Not only are we being spied on, but in the government's fight for its authority to spy, it's also now forbidding Americans from purchasing products that they want (or forcing us to pay higher prices).

Menendez either (a) doesn't understand economics well enough to understand that in trade both sides profit; or (b) really does view this as a war [of the US government] against the American people. Personally, I think it's likely that both are true.

I'll be writing him another letter, this time saying not only that isn't PRISM and other domestic spying unacceptable, but that the necessary remedy is, at a minimum, the repeal of USA PATRIOT and of the AUMF.

EDIT: clarify third paragraph

What result do you expect from writing such a letter if he is participating in a war against you?

Well since he's elected by us, maybe stick his foot in his mouth and lose his office.

He's replaceable. You'll be given someone else like him to select.

"Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos!"

- Homer Simpson

Reminds me of Douglas Adams


(robot appears, says) "take me to your Lizard."

Ford Prefect, of course, had an explanation for this... (snip)

"It comes from a very ancient democracy, you see..."

"You mean, it comes from a world of lizards?"

"No," said Ford, who by this time was a little more rational and coherent than he had been, having finally had the coffee forced down him, "nothing so simple. Nothing anything like to straightforward. On its world, the people are people. The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people."

"Odd," said Arthur, "I thought you said it was a democracy."

"I did," said ford. "It is."

"So," said Arthur, hoping he wasn't sounding ridiculously obtuse, "why don't the people get rid of the lizards?"

"It honestly doesn't occur to them," said Ford. "They've all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they've voted in more or less approximates to the government they want."

"You mean they actually vote for the lizards?"

"Oh yes," said Ford with a shrug, "of course."

"But," said Arthur, going for the big one again, "why?"

"Because if they didn't vote for a lizard," said Ford, "the wrong lizard might get in.

Seems like a good moment for some Emma Goldman:

"If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal."

> or (b) really does view this as a war against the American people

I think CWuestefeld meant that the senator thinks that Ecuador's snub to the US regarding Edward Snowden is the 'war' - not that he and the US government is waging war against the American people.

No, I really do view this as the American government at war against the American people.

I never said you didn't.

Well, I am of the opinion that the USG is at war wit the American people.

Well it's always better to go "You can't fire me! I QUIT!" as you get booted from the door.

> (which would have hurt innocent civilians - does the US even care about that anymore?)

There are two sides to that particular story bub, and only one side has taken actual action so far to hurt those civilians... and it was the government charged with protecting those same civilians.

So what you're basically saying is that Ecuador has decided to harm their own innocent civilians in order to head toward granting asylum to a U.S. citizen to poke their thumb in Uncle Sam's face (again).

They are standing up against the bully that is the US. That is a service to their own citizens and those of various other countries around the world.

In what sense? If a member of the Ecuadorian opposition party infiltrated their government and stole classified information, then fled to the United States, wouldn't they demand to get him back?

The US didn't demand him back (and he isn't even there yet). They are threatening to remove some economic benefit that is completely unrelated to the issue at hand to coerce the Ecuadorean government to fall in line. That's pretty obviously bullying, and the Ecuadorean government has simply called uncle sam's bluff.

"Economic benefits" are generally not free. Why should the U.S. reward a country that has shown a willingness to embarrass them on the world stage (twice, now) when there are a hundred other countries that would be just as deserving (not to mention the millions of Americans here at home who could benefit from a bit of largesse)?

Actually, in economic theory, trade benefits are generally seen as free and mutually advantageous.


Just as deserving? So you view trading with the US as a privilege then? That's extremely arrogant.

Why should they "reward" them? ... Because the U.S. always claims to have the moral high grounds? Because they offered asylum to people declared criminals by other countries (Russia, China, ...) many times in the past? You don't have the moral high grounds by stating you do; you do so by your actions.

Let's look at a slightly different viewpoint. The US is threatening MY (a US citizen) rights to trade with someone in this. Why is my government saying "we won't allow our people to trade with you without penalty". That is not an action on my behalf. That is threatening me with punishment over something they do.

Because Ecuador, in exchange, was working together with the US on the war on drugs - that's what is written in the article.

your best friends are the ones that are allowed to tell you what you are like. the people who don't do that, they are not your best friends.

If I believed for a second that Ecuador's government had genuine friendship-based concern for the U.S. and its actions I think I'd agree with you. But that's not what this is.

That doesn't change the fact that the more any entity relies on threats, the less it can have have real friends. This is like the physics of relationships and just how it is. Wether or not it applies here doesn't even matter for it being generally true, and the US seems to threaten friend and foe alike, if in doubt. Why, it even treats its own citizens like subjects quite often.

I agree that threats are not how friendly countries carry on friendly business. What I do not agree on is that Ecuador is acting at all as a "friend" to the U.S. in this matter, for the reasons I stated above.

The best friends are those that don't allow you to make mistakes. The ones that aren't really your friends are the ones that pander to you, for fear of embarrassing you. They are doing you a disservice.

Which is of greater embarrassment, the alleged behaviour of the NSA, or an offer of asylum to a whistle blower destined for death or Guantanamo?

Jack Straw, British Foreign Secretary from 2001 to 2006:

"So was I right not just in supporting the war, but in actively prosecuting it? I’ve been asked a million times since the invasion whether, knowing then what I know now, I would have made the same decision. And no, I wouldn’t. How could we have agreed to invade Iraq if we had known that there were no WMD there?"[1]

Earlier in the same article:

"As I spelt out the seriousness of the situation and my conviction that we now had to confront Saddam Hussein militarily, my wife Alice and children Will and Charlotte were up in the gallery listening.

None of them shared my view. Each of them would have been among the million or so demonstrators on the recent protest march through London against the war if it had not been for their loyalty to me and their wish not to embarrass me."

Jack Straw, Blair and Straw's family would have been better friends had they caused embarrassment.


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2208155/Jack-Straw-I... [1]

> Which is of greater embarrassment, the alleged behaviour of the NSA, or an offer of asylum to a whistle blower destined for death or Guantanamo?

Given that Snowden is not destined for either death or Guantanamo I'm not sure how to take your question. The NSA's alleged behavior is at least consistent with what we've known and thought it able to do since the Cold War. The worst I can say about it is that they are pushing right up on the edge of the law and court precedent... but is that worse than flat-out breaking the law or doing things like actually focusing specific IRS attention on specific political-interest groups? Or passing laws to disenfranchise minority voters?

I'm not sure of the answer to that question, but I don't think it's "Yes", given what I know of what our law enforcement and national security teams have already had the fully-legal ability to do.


As for the friendship question, for me that goes back to who is really the 'friend' here. A 'friend' would certainly not castigate another about 'human rights abuses' (as if Snowden were clearly innocent) while at the same time having an asylum process that itself violates basic human rights as claimed by Human Rights Watch [1].

A "friend" would at least take the stick out of their eye before pointing to others' flaws. And this is why I say that the government of Ecuador has no legitimate friendly intent here. Even if I agreed with Snowden 100%, the enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend, and neither is the friend of my friend.

[1] http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/06/19/ecuador-fully-respect-ref...

Well none of us can predict the future, all we can do is guess. So that's your opinion. I doubt you hold your own opinion on the matter in higher regard than William Binney's. [1]

Q: He'll be prosecuted?

Binney: First tortured, then maybe even rendered and tortured and then incarcerated and then tried and incarcerated or even executed. [2]

We certainly haven't known what the NSA capabilities are. We may have thought or suspected. Even now we don't really know, note Nadler's turnaround and the language used:

"Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, disclosed on Thursday that during a secret briefing to members of Congress, he was told that the contents of a phone call could be accessed "simply based on an analyst deciding that." "

then: "I am pleased that the administration has reiterated that, _as I have always believed_, the NSA cannot listen to the content of Americans' phone calls without a specific warrant."

Did he not believe what he said in the first statement?

You're saying that because this fresh new, now known abuse, is no worse than other existing abuses, it's not an embarrassment. That seems like fallacious reasoning to me.

See Clapper's lying on camera to the senate here, and his subsequent claim that lying was the 'least untruthful' option. An embarrassment. [5]

The allegation that all calls are recorded for playback is startling, that would also be very embarrassing if it were proven.

Asylum has nothing to do with innocence, rather: evading persecution, i.e. the law in one place being an ass.

America is no slouch in the human rights hypocrisy department either.[4] Having a clean slate in that department is not a prerequisite for doing the right thing. Ecuador would be doing the right thing to grant asylum, and it would be an act of mercy and friendship, and truer friendship than simple pandering.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Binney_%28U.S._intelli...

[2] http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/06/16/snowd...

[3] http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-57589495-38/nsa-spying-fla...

[4] http://www.amnestyusa.org/our-work/countries/americas/usa

[5] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TPKC8F-Zz0

Regarding [2], I suggest you lookup the treatment meted out to actual spies like Hanssen and John Walker. The last spies to be executed were the Rosenbergs, and even that did not go off without a fight by a certain Supreme Court justice.

Ecuador hasn't embarrassed the US, the US has embarrassed itself. After a run of such events over the last 10ish years you'd thing an approach with less aggression could be tried. See the Afghanistan and Iraq adventures for the best examples.

I don't know, would they? This idea that a government would demand that another, non-allied government return someone whose crime is leaking secret information doesn't make any sense to me. I get why you'd extradite an accused murderer or similar, but an accused leaker? Why would another country listen to such a demand?

Especially given that the US government has made it extremely clear that such spying was targeting foreigners, including, most likely, Ecuadorian people.

And ideally these things should be decided on their merits, not who has control over a bigger economy.

The purpose of classified information is not to hide human rights abuses.

> only one side has taken actual action so far to hurt those civilians... and it was the government charged with protecting those same civilians.

A meaningless technicality. You can't seriously be arguing that the US' continued hegemonic paternalism toward Ecuador isn't a major source of their population's problems.

It feels satisfying to go "You can't fire me! I QUIT!" but it's usually a bad idea. Removing a point of leverage before its attempted use is a slightly different scenario, though.

Well it's always better to go "You can't fire me! I QUIT!" as you get booted from the door.

Ecuador hasn't yet taken in Snowden. So no, your analogy doesn't fit: They are rejecting bullying outright.

Also, it's often not better to say that.

Agreed - but a better parallel to this situation is if you suspect you will be fired soon, to leave with dignity of your own accord beforehand.

How should the US punish Ecuador? Assume you are in the government and your job is to try and get Ecuador to hand over someone? Clearly going to war is off the table.

By the way, Ecuador is a cool country. It's quite poor and they use the US dollar. I spent several weeks in Quito and everyone was quite friendly.

Why should the US punish Ecuador? When did the US become the worldwide punishment police?

Saying "I wouldn't do anything" isn't an answer. You are running a country and you want a "crimminal" returned to the US for prosecution. This isn't the first time in history that this has happened. And the US isn't the only country that does stuff like this. If this happened in China, the UK, Russia, France, etc., I think they'd want their guy back too.

From the WSJ:

Mr. Obama said he hasn't called Russian President Vladimir Putin or Chinese President Xi Jinping concerning Mr. Snowden, who has been charged by U.S. authorities with stealing and passing on government secrets.

President Barack Obama dismissed the idea of using the U.S. military to pursue NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

"I shouldn't have to," Mr. Obama said, addressing a question raised during a news conference with Senegalese President Macky Sall. "This is something that is routine."

Well, you asked what they should do. They should make their case diplomatically and non-threateningly, and hope that they can persuade Ecuador to agree. If they can't, they should respect that this "criminal" is outside of their jurisdiction and there's nothing they can do. They should not attempt to leverage their size and muscle to force compliance, like a bully or tyrant.

Of course, as you noted, it never works like that, here or anywhere else.

And economic treaties are diplomatic tools. They always have been part-and-parcel of diplomacy and it's silly to act like that has suddenly changed in 2013.

Right. I interpreted the original question as "what, ideally, would be the right thing to do?" as opposed to "what would you expect them to do?"

It's not really about the mere involvement of an economic treaty, that can certainly be a part of the negotiations. It's just that, in this particular situation, it's a blatant attempt to use our economic muscle to bend a smaller entity to our will on a completely unrelated matter. (Again, I don't find it surprising or unexpected in any way)

Well I'd argue the minimum proportional response to achieve the ends (i.e. there's some carrot/stick combinations that would not be 'right', or worth the international outcry... and even in that window why go for overkill?)

The problem is that I don't think the U.S. has a lot of carrots at any given time (what are we going to do, lodge a formal protest?), and you'd certainly not want to start off with the stick.

Because we've set a precedent for meddling/policing for over a century, and to stop now would be certain death to the current political party via a media assault.

Our two party (err, one party) system is set up to preserve the status quo in its entirety. To not do so is certain death, politically.

While I agree with you that the US government has overstepped its bounds for too long and they should not be policing anything but their own arrogance, it is inevitable for our government to have to do some sort of ridiculous posturing over this.

I don't think you understand anything about history if you think the US has set any sort of precedent for "meddling/policing" for over a century.

It's too bad Snowden didn't go to China. The parallel would be funny: China - we don't care about our favored trade/tariff status! (as if); US Govt - up yours, import taxes then! (as if).

So when the US severs these ties, it's an "economic act of aggression" and it "hurt[s] innocent civilians".

But when Ecuador does this preemptively, it's an astute move?

It's a wise man that gives up what he cannot hope to keep for something he can't lose.

> * which would have hurt innocent civilians - does the US even care about that anymore?*

There own innocent civilians? Generally yes, though they consider them all to be potentially not at all innocent.

Other country's innocent civilians? Not unless it is politically or industrially/commercially expedient to seem to care. This has always been the case, and is the same for any other power.

Ecuador's fight against Chevron is likely the largest obstacle to the renewal of the trade preference, not Snowden. Ecuador likely opted to retain the claim for potential billions instead of the trade privilege allegedly worth $23 millions.

[edit] Wikipedia reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lago_Agrio_oil_field

When does it become a not classy move? What if he kicks out all currently present US nationals from his country? What if he shuts down the US embassy in Quito? What if he takes military action against the US?

When do I stop getting excited when someone hurts my country?

I think a better question to ask is what is reasonable and fair to expect my country to do on my behalf.

I'm all for the USG to try to improve the position economically and politically in the world so long as they respect certain bounds of decency while doing so. Spying the the politicians and citizens of other countries in order to gain advantage is not decent or fair, the same way you wouldn't want your boss or your co-workers to spy on you to keep you from a raise or promotion.

The US, China, Russia and the UK are among the biggest sociopaths insofar as countries interacting with other countries go. I'm not proud of that, and I would hope we could meet with other countries and their leaders on a fair playing field and discuss things as adults instead or resorting to bullying.

Regardless of what the US does, it's not, in my opinion, something to cheer or be excited about when another country acts aggressively towards the US (to a citizen, anyway; feel however you want about it if you're not a citizen).

What it crosses to me is the boundary between loyalty to one's leaders and loyalty to one's country. Obama is going after Snowden, and I can either support or not support that action, that's my right as a citizen. But when another country takes action against my country, that suddenly becomes an act of agression directed at me, and every other citizen of the US.

That's not "nice", or "classy" at all.

And what is your opinion of the act of aggression of the NSA towards you and every other US citizen by surveilling you without a warrant?

Ecuador is providing protection to a whistleblower that is trying to help you question an unconstitutional program and reign in abuses. In a way that makes Ecuador a greater defender of the US Constitution than the USG.

I don't know about you, but my loyalty is to the system of governance and rights laid out by the Constitution before some amorphous geographic shape determined by natural boundaries and history. I see Ecuador as helping the person that is helping protect the Constitution. I don't necessarily know their motivations or agree with the reason they may be acting the way they are, but I do know that the World needs more people like Snowden, and people willing to go to bat for Snowden, if we are going to be able to defend the Bill of Rights and other documents/policies outlining basic human rights.

P.S. Threatening economic sanctions isn't "nice" or "classy" either. The US is as guilty as Ecuador for making this into an adversarial tete-a-tete.

It's the difference between you wrestling your brother and a stranger punching him in the face.

No. When you claim your systems are better, you impose them on others, and you are vastly richer and more powerful, the standards change. The US is, and should be, held to a higher standard than poorer, weaker nations.

my country? I wish people would grow up and stop thinking in terms of these stupid imaginary lines.

> (which would have hurt innocent civilians - does the US even care about that anymore?)

No. This is a standard tactic the US has used to economically intimidate Latin/South America for political, but usually economic reasons. After the disaster in Haiti, the government decided to raise taxes on gas/oil exports(forget really) to help recovery, but that would affect our profit margins so we threatened them economically into submission. I believe something similar happened with raising the minimum wage by a few cents for textile workers in Haiti, but there was no way in hell we'd have that.*

Menendez represents me. Not that I'm surprised that he'd protect his monied interests over the welfare of innocents or anything.

*edit: found the source http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2011/06/us-haiti-wik...

Would have it just been easier to pardon Snowden, bring him back home, never allow him to work with a security clearance again or do we just have to be that hardline that we just caused lots of anguish? Has the non-pardoning/hardline caused more damage here? If he truly has more damning information, as the state department, wouldn't you want to contain that by bringing him back without fear of being detained?

Unless in some parallel Snowden is still in the CIA and we wanted to check HK, Russia and now Ecuador regime with a spy that would be excused due to the leaks (might also learn more about WikiLeaks).

In the end, our enemies knowing we track everything hasn't really hurt them, it just let them know the long arm is longer than they expected or they knew it already. The only people it hurt were innocent Americans that now have assurance everything is being tracked, US cloud business trust and now poor farmers in Ecuador.

Seems it could have been handled better.

The US Government's concern is that if Snowden gets off light other whistleblowers will step forward. That's the root logic behind the 'war on whistleblowers'. Which strongly suggests "we ain't seen nothin yet."

That's a big part of why Manning was treated so horribly and without any sense of proportion to what he did. It simply wasn't (all) about him. It was about the people who might be thinking of following in his footsteps.

Which is exactly why we need to lean hard on our government to pardon Snowden. Whistleblowers are the only real oversight these programs have[1], and the more we cow and break them the more abuses we will see.

Sign the petition if you haven't (https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/pardon-edward-snow...), and don't stop there: write letters, make phone-calls, visit your officials' offices, get involved at the party level and see about pushing things there, give money to organizations like the EFF. If anyone else has other suggestions (or more details about how to do any of the above, or interest in coordinating any of the above), please add!

[1] Congressional oversight is a joke when money is so important in politics and the only people who will know about the decision are the contractors who will be contributing to your or your opponent's campaign next cycle based on whether you let them keep the contract.

You know what? Let's get together and do something about this. Precisely what, TBD at a meeting: http://www.meetup.com/Hack-Government-Bay-Area

Join if you're in the area, start a parallel group otherwise.

Astute point you're making that if they're this concerned about additional whistleblowers, then there must be a lot out there that is worse than what we've heard so far. This isn't just about wiretapping, because that aspect couldn't be worse than we've heard so far.

Well, Snowden alleges warrantless wiretapping, but didn't have evidence of that. [1] A subsequent whistle-blower bringing proof that it wasn't just possible, but that it was done (routinely), would be worse. Particularly if they had proof of warrantless wiretaps done for bureaucratic/political reasons. [2]

Similarly, if there was proof that no real effort is being expended to identify citizen data vs non-citizen data, it would be 'worse'.

At least in the eyes of those who are following the traditional media account and are still giving the government the benefit of the doubt and buying their defenses. [3]

[1] At least he hadn't presented any, thus far. Just a document outlining the technical capability of bulk copy and 'intercept' existed and his assertion that he could initiate those intercepts without any oversight, let alone legal basis.

[2] Which is something alleged by another whistle-blower, but again, without iron-clad proof. Which is apparently what you absolutely have to have, for the mainstream media to pay any attention to the story. (And even then, they'll probably just talk about you, personally.)

[3] Despite those defenses having to be walked back time and again for containing falsehoods and no corrected defenses being offered.

why is everything a "war" - war on drugs, war on this, war on that ...

Because it is a very string, stark, emotive word. It carries a lot of weight even sub-consciously, and makes it easier to get taken seriously (or taken as right). It makes it personal. Not just "something that could do to be fixed", or "right vs wrong" - it means "us vs them".

may be so, but when it is overused, it loses it's seriousness, no?

To an extent yes, though I think it is a concept that registers quite deep to the point where our reaction is at least partly instinctual (the old fight/flight response) to it'll not become totally ineffective.

I was shocked when I worked in America at a kids summer camp, and every activity/game was "war this" and "war that".

Kids in America are quite literally taught to go to war at every possible juncture, like it's a valid way to solve some conflict.

As a visitor to the US I noticed a version of this in small ways - shops selling things cheap to servicemen/woman, statements praising the military on buildings, headlines about military gains in papers, people in uniform all over the place etc. If I didn't know better I'd have assumed America was defending itself against a perilous onslaught.

Well, even the members of the U.S. military tend to find that over-the-top, it's not just you.

I don't remember being taught that.

Edited to add: don't get me wrong, I'm not claiming you're lying, just that your experience doesn't necessarily generalize.

That's the scary part.

You also don't realize that swearing allegiance to a country is a very, very bizarre and backwards thing to be doing. The rest of the developed world is shocked by this practice, but you were taught so young you don't even know it's strange and wrong.

My country has a "swearing the flag" routine, and it used to ask for a certificate of allegiance for bureaucratic procedures... it's a remnant from the dictatorship in the 70s.

In Canada when someone takes an the oath of citizenship they still swear an allegiance to the monarchy. I think there is a similar component for elected officials and people in the military. That has always struck me as bizarre.

That's a strange interpretation of my statement. Let me be slightly clearer: I don't think children in my community were/are taught that. To be fair, I grew up in hippieville, but nonetheless.

It's part of the US propaganda machine. "War" is used to rally the population against something evil...an outside force that must be stopped.

I agree. BTW, I was very surprised to read an article this week (sorry, couldn't find the link) about how much harsher anti-whistle blower laws are in the USA than in other countries.

If western countries had enough balls to stand up against the US demands, maybe it would not turn into such a bully. It's our indifference that led us to wars, drones, surveillance, etc. Not a single country would be allowed to act this way.

Oh, they won't bother when it's clear they need China more than the US.

" Not a single country would be allowed to act this way."

Going point.

Apparently we are sharing data with Australia and Britain so likely many others too. They don't need to spy on their populations when we will do it for them and give them the data.

Apparently this has been common since at least the cold war.


Many countries have bowed to US demands in the last years due to threat of losing trade benefits.

After the Australian Prime Minister agreed to (illegally) send troops into Iraq with Dubya, 16 US Trade Negotiators came to Australia within a week and negotiated previously unseen trade deals to benefit Australia. When questioned directly about this, the Australian Prime Minister shrugged and said "What was I going to do?"

After living in South America for a year, I'm very excited to see those countries develop more and more, and reject US rule and meddling more and more.

"...and reject US rule and meddling more and more."

As an American, I have to agree.

Likely other countries came forward to replace the 23 million in trade making this possible.

The best part:

"In a cheeky jab at the U.S. spying program that Snowden unveiled through leaks to the media, the South American nation offered $23 million per year to finance human rights training."

Ecuador will have no problem finding buyers for oil, its main export. But flower and fruit merchants will suffer consequences.

Correct. More sales to Canada.

I don't know about you, but I'm calling flower merchants and buying Fair-Trade Ecuadorian flowers.

Facebook needs some "Made in Ecuador" stickers methinks.

Right, screw over thousands of merchants and workers in your country so a few at the top can make names for themselves as "rebels" ... does that sound like leftism or being "for the people?" What exactly does giving up all this to house Snowden do for the average Ecuadorian? It increases the profile of the leadership, but that's about it.

You seem to be assuming that if the US doesn't buy those flowers then no one will and they'll just rot. That seems unlikely. Given that they've also offered $23m for Human Right's training It seems likely they can afford to lose the $23m since they're effectively doubling that 'loss'.

Is it grandstanding? sure, but if you agree with human rights it is exactly the right kind of grandstanding.

Also, I have no problem with people considering themselves humans before they consider themselves members of a nation-state, even government officials of a nation-state.

> You seem to be assuming that if the US doesn't buy those flowers then no one will and they'll just rot. That seems unlikely.

At the margin, it seems incredibly likely. You don't cut yourself off from the largest wealthiest market in the hemisphere and continue to sell exactly as many flowers as before at exactly as high a price...

Obviously we don't know the details of the agreement so we can't actually know much of anything. Presumably the government itself isn't buying the flowers so I'd assume its more of free trade kind of deal so no tariffs or lesser tariffs are imposed on Ecuadorean imports.

The removal of the agreement wouldn't then be embargo/sanctions, it would mean normally trade that other countries conduct with the US. So the price for US importers would increase and so at the margin as you rightly point out there would be some loss of profit and some loss of sales. We don't know how much though, and we don't know if those could be replaced by other purchasers and if so at at what price reduction.

In any event it wouldn't be a loss of $23m a realistic estimate might be closer to 10% of that so around $2-3m. For a country with $5bn in oil exports that's chump change and given that its a leftist government any local workers that suffer will probably be have a decent social safety net in place until they get back on their feet.

> In any event it wouldn't be a loss of $23m a realistic estimate might be closer to 10% of that so around $2-3m.

? Where are you getting this $23m from? The article says that they export to the USA "$166 million of cut flowers". 10% of that would be $16.6 million, not $2 million...

I'm getting it from the article...

In a cheeky jab at the U.S. spying program that Snowden unveiled through leaks to the media, the South American nation offered $23 million per year to finance human rights training.

The funding would be destined to help "avoid violations of privacy, torture and other actions that are denigrating to humanity," Alvarado said. He said the amount was the equivalent of what Ecuador gained each year from the trade benefits.

Then you have no reason to be adjusting the official figures by 10x: $23m is a perfectly plausible estimate of gains on an existing $166m industry.

Correct, on re-reading the article the $23m is the value offered for HR training, which is apparently somehow equivalent to the value of the economic benefit Ecuador gains from the agreement - so presumably they already did the relevant math to get to that number.

I'm not sure the $23m applies only to the flower industry - it reads like it applies to the value of the total agreement to Ecuador. - I do mention upthread that without actually knowing the details of the agreement we're all just speculating.

But you asked where I got $23m from... and the answer was the article.

and my larger point still stands anyway... Ecuador apparently sell $5 billion in oil to the US... BILLION not million. A loss of $23million is still chump change. A loss of $230m probably wouldn't affect much.

Solution: Call your local flower merchant. Buy dozens of flowers, but insist on Equadorian flowers. Repeat.

Oh, and buy Fair-Trade if possible.

I think I'll do just this.

Remember to post pictures of the country-of-origin label on your social networks, and to say why.

Good call.

It's possible some of the flower growers will switch to other crops. My understanding is the reason flower export was included in this agreement in the first place is that the U.S. hoped to increase the market size of alternative export cash crops, so coca growers would have something to switch to.

Which makes the move even less sensible from the U.S. side, because the U.S. program is not only some kind of selfless charity, but an attempt at reducing drug trafficking. Placing tariff barriers on legal exports like flowers and fruits just shifts the curve of how economically attractive illegal exports like coca look in comparison.

Given that they've also offered $23m for Human Right's training It seems likely they can afford to lose the $23m since they're effectively doubling that 'loss'.

Why do you assume this money is set aside and actually exists when it sounds like a simple stunt?

Is it really good for Ecuador to trade with a country that bullies its way like that?

China and others have their own set of problems, but they might make for better trade partners than the U.S., and China in particular is really lobbying itself as an option... lots of multibillion dollar government works and stuff that usually went to U.S., Europe, Japan or Korea by default are going to China now.

And Ecuador is now selling its oil to China, not the U.S.

The U.S. is losing control of its "backyard", which used to be economic colonies.

However, Ecuador is uniquely tied to the U.S. by having adopted the dollar, and the U.S. still imports twice as much as China, so yes, this will hurt.

The US routinely bullies other countries to get what it wants, as evidenced by some of those diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks.

You generally have to be bigger (or at least more powerful) than the other kid to be a bully. We've seen how a lot of nations acts when they are the bigger kid, and the US isn't really much different, it seems. Is anyone surprised?

Break up the union then?

Maybe to a lesser degree, given economies of scale, market size and so forth, but it will hurt the US too. Trade agreements aren't altruistic. There's mutual benefit, or there'd be no point.

Given that we seem to have granted the deal in exchange for assistance in the War On Drugs, there would be point (at least, in the minds of those who support said policy, which does seem to be those with power) even if the trade deal itself were of benefit only to Ecuador.

Do you think China will refrain from bullying if it is ever in its leaders' interests?

No, but the best way to make bullying a less attractive tool to any government (China's too) is to show that it is not tolerated.

Most South American countries used to play the U.S. against Russia / Communist block to get benefits, today I think it's in their best interest to balance China and U.S./Europe.

If they're doing out of political expediency than that is their prerogative, but let's not pretend that they're making a stand against bullying when China or Russia won't hesitate to bully as soon as it's in their national interest.

That doesn't mean that standing up to bullying countries doesn't work. There's always another superpower to run to, and they seem to like undermining each other's bullying.

If it works, good luck to them. However I'm scared that this kind of thing will empower China and Russia at the expense of the US. If you think that the US is bad, those two are global hegemons you really do not want to have.

From an outside view (South American), the U.S. is getting worse and worse, while China is getting steadily better.

The U.S. is a few Dick Cheneys away from getting worse than China.

Not to mention many people over here still HATE the U.S. because of their support to the murderous dictatorships of the 70's - I don't think China is going to get much worse than that. I was born in 1981 so I obviously don't have memories of the time, but the current Uruguayan president was a former guerrilla fighter from that time, so the memories are ever present.

I don't think the US is getting worse. Vietnam, Watergate, Iran-Contra, arming the mujahadeen in Afghanistan. It's always been this bad.

You may not believe yet that China could be bad. I would love to dream of a benificent Chinese world hegemon. But if China can't even give freedom to its own people, what's it going to do to others?

The US is, in my view, the least worst option by a long way.

I believe China could and probably would be bad. The question isn't whether it would be bad, it's whether it would be worse than the U.S. .

So far China is worse in its regard for ecology and human rights, but the U.S. is backwards in shoving down our throats absurd legislation, especially copyright and patent laws (one of the main reasons Uruguay doesn't have a preferential trade treaty with the U.S.), and it's almost a radical religious country in some points (Uruguay is secular), and extremely self-absorbed (much like China!).

It is ironically easier for me as an Uruguayan citizen to visit China than the U.S. due to increased visa restrictions and xenophobia.

I didn't say Chinese hegemony was good, they're probably not much better, but I do think and see them getting better, while I see the U.S. sliding down. At which point Chinese would be more tolerable (the lesser evil, not necessarily better or good) than the U.S., I don't know, but they're getting nearer than an U.S.-centric view might lead you to believe.

Cynically, yes, it's a big media ploy. But, what should they do instead? Would it be better for them to immediately crumble when big ol' capitalist America tries to tighten some screws?

Maybe it provides morale for the average Ecuadorian, some faith and pride in their government. I wish ours would sometimes take a stand on human rights in the face of a more economically convenient option. However, I'll admit I'm not very familiar with Ecuador's political climate, it very well could be a hollow scheme.

I know a number of Ecuatorians living abroad, and they're very proud of what their government is doing regardless of the short-term economic consequences. I don't know who's right and who's wrong here, but there's a huge if often intangible benefit to taking a principled stance and sticking with it.

Ecuadorian expats working professional jobs abroad, or emigrants who left the country for greener pastures long ago, aren't really who matter here. Like I said it's the merchants and workers who rely on these export dollars who will suffer.

Why have values when preferential treatment is at risk, right?

Since all our freedom is for sale, right?

Following a principle has its costs, but that shouldn't become a barrier towards doing the right thing.

I bet this exposure brings more than 23 million $ in tourism to the country.

Heck, journalist alone will probably spend a million over the next several years following Snowden around

I bet it doesn't.

Actually, as an American, I'm considering going there now (on vacation). I like the fact that there's a country standing up to the government I'm learning more and more to despise. Sure, I probably won't spend $23M there, but how many others feel the same way around the world?

You're probably in the extreme minority. Also, President Correa has sent journalists to prison for writing unflattering OP-EDs. It's funny that you have such a distrust of American politics, but automatically assume that Ecuadorean politicians are better.

I don't assume they're better, I just love surfing. When scouting out my next trip, I shall look more favorably on Ecuador.

There are markets other than the US.

I just tried going to Amazon.com and searching for "Ecuador crafts". I have several birthday presents to buy over the next few months, and I am thinking that craft items from Ecuador might be things people will enjoy.

I consider myself a patriotic USA citizen, but our government's cracking down on whistle blowers in the last 4 or 5 years has really gone too far. Our laws + punishments for whistle blowers is way out of whack with the rest of the world (I think the crimes Snowden is accused of carry a maximum sentence of 2 years in the UK, and less in most other European countries).

Just browsing wikipedia, it seems that the man riding in on his white horse has sent journalists to prison for writing unflattering editorials about him.

that's why he said "mercantile interests" and not "political interests". It is such an odd choice for the president, while the US does engage in blatant and unethical mercantile coercion around the world, the snowden case is one where the US' sins are almost purely political, and its actions are coming at a cost to its economic position.

Where is this offer for human rights training? Googling only shows me references to the Reuters link.

Has anyone seen an Ecuadorian press release?

This plus this [0] point towards the US having given up trying to get Snowden. Maybe Wikileaks has won this one.

[0] http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/27/obama-edward-sno...

Bold and classy of them not to cave in to American terror.

As a citizen and long-time resident of US, I hereby accept Ecuador's offer for human rights aid.

A personal check would be appreciated, but I can use with bags of them as well. :)

If only justice could be bought.

Forget the Ecuadorean response, WTF with the US response to the Ecuadorean response? Trade is mutually beneficial, idiots.

great. now the us is going to find a way to fuck up another south american country.

I kind of love Ecuador for that move.

<Grumpy Cat Meme> Good! </Grumpy Cat Meme>

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