Amnisty Issues in Latin America

While inspired by current events related to Julian Assange, a blog post in the Christian Science Monitor titled Assange asylum case ripples through Latin America brings up other current and recent asylum cases.

Of interest specifically in Nicaragua was the recent case where Nicaragua granted asylum to a Peruvian. In current cases, Brazil has granted asylum to a Bolivian who is in the Brazilian Embassy in La Paz but Bolivia has not granted safe passage for him.

Nicaragua granted political asylum to Alberto Pizango, the Peruvian indigenous leader who was wanted by the government for his role during the Bagua conflict. After he was given asylum, the government granted him safe passage from the Nicaragua embassy out of the country. He returned to Peru 11 months later and was arrested.

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it's Amnesty-Ecuador has nothing to do with this and only got involved to push up its street cred with the base at home and with Alba. Unlike Ortega the dictator here has journalists and political rivals put in prison. 'US Agents' he calls them in the media. Madness for those who know this guy and have to live under him. He did same as Ortega-changed the term limits and took power from Congress.

Anyway they use the US dollar as the official currency with the Indian gold dollar that flopped in USA (indian woman who went with Lewis & Clark expedition) very popular in Ecuador. More Peace Corps people in this country than any other in Latin America. Not too mention the tourists from USA and the new retirement focus. There was a coup attempt a year ago with almost no coverage in Western Media. Basically he was held hostage and 5 people were killed in the rescue.

With that said I support Ecuador's right to have a nuclear bomb as well as a missile with range long enough to hit Washington!

Anyone here actually been there?

Ecuador's "dictator"

You said it but others thought it. An article in The Guardian discusses it.

On Monday, the UK-based Daily Mail published a piece describing Ecuador as "a world of fear under a Left-wing dictator who responds to dissent with an iron fist". This "dictator", the country's president Rafael Correa, has been elected twice with overwhelming majorities, most recently notching up 52% in 2009, more than 20% ahead of his nearest rival. The freedom and fairness of these elections have never been questioned by any country or relevant entity. His current approval ratings are hovering just under 60%.

The article goes on to document how Ecuador is not perfect but puts it in perspective.

Would it it make any difference to this thread if we all had?

You lecture us with 20 year old lesson notes like we are all dumb asses that don't have any interest in current affairs.

Not True

Every post here never questioned any motive by the dictatorship in Ecuador-a cross between Chavez & Manual Noriega. Affable yet cunning, and dangerous.

Ecuador here is synonymous with Justice, Peace, and Freedom.

His country is going in one direction-he in another...

Some of us really think the discussion here tends to be weird

Talk about Assange and Ecuador have been all over all the social media.

Manuel Noriega was the US's boy until he decided to do deals on the side.

The US has amazing corruption in the banking industry:

We're finally cracking down on that, which is quite a bit more interesting than whether Assange's case is Ecuador's president playing footsie with free press libertarians world wide, or how long Assange will remain in Ecuador before realizing he's been taken out of play.

And did Anonymous hack the Virginia Republican site and post a newsletter urging armed rebellion if Obama won in November. or were some of the Virginia Republicans that stupid?

There's a lot of news to keep up with. What any of this has to do with living in Nicaragua, I dunno, except I was in Nicaragua when I read it.

Rebecca Brown

Asylum, passage, conduct & extradition

In some instances the safe passage or asylum only exists to defuse a situation. Depends on the grant, but it need not be a permanent arrangement. Also, being granted political asylum inside an embassy, or even in the country proper, does not necessarily rule out all other legal means, and it can be drafted to act only on the existing arrest warrant and its charges. Per Pizango anyway, it was reported that his letter of safe conduct did not exclude Peru from requesting his extradition from Nicaragua proper. His problems were reinstated when he returned to the country. As the referenced article points out, every case is different. But, since Pizango claimed he wanted asylum elsewhere, the Peruvian government said o.k. Then Pizango realized what comes with asylum a word away in the middle of his self-proclaimed struggle, and he went back to Peru - on his own passport, no less. Since the government viewed him as an eloquent agitator, having him far away in Nicaragua was likely viewed as a good thing. Pizango might have been able to lead, or at least fail to control, an ugly (at least uglier than what had happened already) scenario that the government wanted even less. When he came back they arrested him - but they might have preferred he just stayed away. That there are no carved-in-stone rules per what an Embassy can do and why, might have worked in nearly everyone's favor, at least early on. The "weirdness" of embassy roles isn't necessarily a bad thing..

If It Was Just

the WikiLeaks thing, Assange could probably have found any number of countries to shelter him. His claim of journalistic privilege resonates within a wide audience. Assange's liability may be more to his country, as a citizen who divulged classified information detrimental to Australia's interests, than to any law in the US. Australia could very well be waiting in line to have a crack at him.

If he conspired with Manning before the fact then I certainly understand his anxiety. He's looking at a very long prison sentence. I don't think that hiding out in Ecuador will gain him much more than a short reprieve.

The sexual charges really confuse the issue. There are four separate allegations, a couple of which are noted in any discussion favorable to Assange, but one of which clearly sounds like rape to me:

I just don't see how he is going to get past this; it will haunt him the rest of his life. His accusers are steadfast in their claims, and they deserve their day in court.


Yes, the allegations have been distracting but the whole thing has been fishy; the case itself, the events around it, etc. The responsible media actually call it sexual misconduct because it isn't considered rape or assault in the UK.

Here are Naomi Wolfe's 8 big problems with the case. These are just the problems with the case within Sweden, and don't cover the surrounding events. Ms. Wolfe has 23 years of reporting on global rape cases.

BTW The Swedish newspapers broke the story last year that Karl Rove was doing consulting for the Swedish Prime Minister. The headlines asked if Rove was helping the PM with Assange.

This Ecuador Thing

could be good news for Nicaragua. I noticed that DO has been blessedly silent recently. Perhaps he's finally understanding on which side his bread is buttered (and where the butter comes from). This might take the focus from Nicaragua and place it on Ecuador:

This from a Washing Post editorial:

" ...As we’ve said before, the United States that Mr. Correa so despises allows Ecuador to export many goods duty-free, supports roughly 400,000 jobs in a country of 14 million people and accounts for one-third of Ecuador’s foreign sales. Congress could easily decide to diminish that privileged commercial access early next year. . . ."

A statement kind of on par with the UK advising Ecuador of current applicable law, but . . ..

This could put Nicaragua under the radar for a few years.. Mr. Correa is a much nastier person than Mr Ortega. A few years is all we need. Let the US beat up on Ecuador instead of on Nicaragua.

If you watched the recent interview

If you watched the recent interview with Correa that was posted on this site, he said he loves the American people. He spent 4 years in the US where he got 2 degrees, including his PhD in Economics. What he said he didn't like were the deals with western powers that were too one-sided and hurt his country - and he said he simply calls a spade a spade.

This asylum issue is supposed to be between Ecuador and the UK, but the agreement to which you refer is the Andean Agreement that expires next year. Even though the US isn't involved in the dispute, they're already talking of not renewing the agreement to punish Ecuador. When you're a sovereign country, I bet you get a little sick of other countries dictating your foreign policy to you and punishing you when you don't go along.

As long as you listen to only one side of the news, you don't hear the whole story. The North American media has chosen to demonize all the left leaning South American leaders.

Mr. Ortega is too busy

Sitting on the fence with one foot firmly planted on each side and being spoon fed international delicacies to be too concerned about bread and butter.

Elvis vs. Kid Rock

Ortega is in different league than Correa as Correa is just politician who took clever advantage of the moment of anti-US populism.

Ortega spent his 20s in prison for bank robbery and within 10 years after release walked out of the White House with a check for over 50 million US dollars from Jimmy Carter. Then from there to have power (be president) and lose it and return again and all in between if in a movie would not be believable.

If you forget the politics (and corruption) this is a guy with a lot of stories to tell. I want to know how he disbanded the directorate (12 Members of the new government after Somoza of which only 3 were Sandinista) > I would buy that book.

I want to know what he was really thinking when he walked out of the White house with only admonition not to ship arms to Salvador-He was caught red-handed doing so 2 months later.

"Make them an offer they can't refuse"

That's how most of it is done.

How would he also so easily get rid of the likes of Cerna (if he really has)...does he have more black on him than he has on Ortega. Or as old warriors, is there a little respect between them, "they had a good run and all that stuff"...and it beats the alternative Godfather method of taking the offer.

BTW..."If you forget the politics (and corruption)"...whats to talk about?

Ortega is, apparently, what a significant chunk of Nicaraguan


An friend who was born in Ecuador and who lived here until adolescence asked me about Ortega. He had two questions: Was he corrupt? Did he do a good job as President. I said he seemed somewhat corrupt but he did appear to have done a good enough job as president. My friend's reply was "that's probably about as good as it gets in those countries." He has family in Ecuador, goes back there frequently, and has a love/disdain relationship with the country, but never plans to leave the US because he lives so much better there. He is, however, left of center for the US (which means he'd be middle of the road for Canada, I suspect).

Rebecca Brown

Apparently not Realisticamente

I have relatives and friends, childhood friends, that the only reason why they vote for Ortega and go to the demonstrations is because it is a requirement in order to keep their jobs. Anybody that tells you otherwise is lying to you. Ortega is as corrupt if not more than all the others before him. He wasn´t middle class and now he is one of the richest man, if not the richest, in Nicaragua. All his money and properties and business he has certainly don´t come from his president´s salary. Or who knows, maybe he has the Midas touch in the world of finances. There is for certain a segment of the population that wants Ortega to remain as president. They are the revanchistas. For them is not about working towards a better Nicaragua for everybody, regardless of political affiliation. Their motive and goal is summarized in this words Ahora nos toca a Nosotros. The needy don´t want indoctrination, they want decent work wages so they won´t need to send their kids to peddle whatever out on the streets so they can afford arroz con frijoles. Have you read about the canasta basica and the salario minimo in Nicaragua. What a joke, and a cruel one. Again see further than your inner circle of friends and amistades and ask yourself this question Are these people really content with their lives living the way they do, barely making it one day at a time. Could it be that they have no ambition, no drive, no dreams, no hope or maybe they are simpletons that it doesn´t take much for them to be happy. There are people like that in Nicaragua for sure and those are part of that apparently significant chunk of nicaraguans that you seemed to know of. No system is perfect as long as humans are involved, but one would have to be a moron to think that our current system is doing a good enough job. I don´t know for how long the people, those that think not only about today but think about a better future, will remain quiet, you know enjoying the relative peace that the benelovent comandante is giving us. Not an advocate for violence but sometimes that seems like the only way. More to say but I have to go.

My brother worked in a county....

...where one of the county supervisors told his work force that if they didn't re-elect him to county supervisor, he'd fire them. I'm sure people go to the demonstrations at least in part because they have FSLN sponsored jobs. This isn't unique to Nicaragua.

Basically, getting people out of poverty is a non-trivial problem. If an upper class needed coffee cutters, then a lot of the local education is geared to producing coffee cutters. If they need hotel maids, there are schools for that. Breaking out of a culture's expectations for you is to get into a struggle with that culture that can get nasty or simply demoralizing.

The Nicaraguans I know tend to be middle class or lower middle class. I've done enough poverty alleviation in the US to know better than to get involved here.

I'm also not in favor of people who aren't Nicaraguan, left or right, trying to fix Nicaragua's problems. Either side, we will make a mess of it.

I would have more compassion for the Nicaragua right if it was less in the US's pocket.

Likewise, I think the best thing that happened to the Latin American left was the collapse of the Soviet Union. Figure out how to deal without Uncle or Comrade Sugar.

Violence tends to create established groups that have used violence to get their ways -- often this doesn't work as well as one might hope. The current president of El Salvador is a leftist, but not someone who was a guerrilla fighter for his party.

Bringing in industry that pays a decent wage is a non-trivial problem, too. If it's owned locally, it has to be capitalized locally. If it's a foreign investment, a certain chunk of the profits leaves Nicaragua. If Ortega is not stupid, he has to invest his money in something, and if he invests it locally, that might work out better than sending profits over seas to get foreign investment money.

I can have a lot of compassion for people who are brutally poor, but I don't really know how to fix their problems with the tools I have at hand.

Also, you might want to read George Orwell's The Road to Wigan Pier. Part of the UK in the 20th Century were as bad as anything I've seen in Nicaragua, from his description of life in the 1930s. I'm fairly certain that things will change. I am, however, cynical about the abilities of any of the gringos I've met so far to actually do much of anything to make things better and have more confidence that some of them can make things worse.

It isn't my country and I'm a guest here. I also find people who come to an area to hang out with people they can feel assuredly superior to and not to their own local peers and equivalents to be utterly tacky.

Rebecca Brown

Culture of Poverty

Does one chooses to be poor? How does that become a culture? Is it imposed and sustained as a way of life on the poor by the upper class? Who will oppose a movement that its only goal is to break the hold that such culture has on the poor? Most of this questions were attempted to be answered some 33 years ago. That things didn´t turned out as most of us expected well the topic has been talked about to death. Blame it on this or that. The fact remains though that things are pretty much the same. You said Breaking out of a culture´s expectations for you is to get into a struggle with that culture that can get nasty or simply demoralizing. Why do you think the majority of Nicaraguenses rally behind the Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional, not once but twice, back then until Somoza and his GN were gone? The people tried for almost 50 years to bring a change through a non violence process but Somoza and his friends didn´t play by those rules. Are we facing the same scenario nowdays? Maybe not yet but we are seing the signals. The longer Ortega keeps the power the more he will have to tighten his grip and eventually those that once were kept content with a pig and zinc will not be that many and their kids will not be as reliant for the comandante to call on them. Something or someone´s gotta give. I hope when it does is in a non violent manner, but hey De tanto llevar el cantaro al pozo al final se quiebra. Those that will oppose a people´s attempt to breaking out of a culture´s expectations, one imposed on them, can expect that there will be a struggle to create a new culture with better expectations. It could be nasty and demoralizing as before, but it must be attempted again.

There's a certain romance about revolutions, unfortunately.

The trouble with violent revolution is you tend to put people in power who are used to getting their way through violence.

One thing I've been following over the last few years are a couple of communes in Virginia -- Twin Oaks and Acorn. You might find their solutions for a small (100 people for Twin Oaks, around a dozen for Acorn) community interesting, but I'm not sure it will scale, but at this point, Twin Oaks is the longest surviving egalitarian commune from about the 18th Century on. If you're in the DC area, it's close enough for a day visit (Sunday Twin Oaks tours, tell Valerie I sent you).

What will work here that gives more people opportunities than they have in an economic system dependent on cheap transient labor? Right now, the predominant economic drivers are tourism and agricultural production. Neither are known for being particularly high paying, though I'll accept Juanno's argument that tourism can be better than being a coffee cutter.

I used to have round and round arguments with local schools in rural Virginia -- if they taught high-end skills, the kids taking those courses couldn't get jobs in town. My answer to that was, "So what? The kids with the better skills will have better lives and the county doesn't really own them." But the taxpayers would be educating people who wouldn't stay and pay taxes in the county.

I highly commend what your mother did with you -- what my Honduran nurse practitioner was doing with her daughter -- get out and get your child a better education than would be possible to get at home. In some ways, this lets pressure off the local elites, but in other ways, it allows people to get a far better education than they'd have if they'd been educated to fit in local assumptions about what people were capable to doing.

The smartest thing Nicaragua did was let people leave who wanted to leave. And if they want to come back and set up better ways of doing things, more power to all of them.

This is obviously illegal: threats against teachers for taking the kids away from pot growing, and I hope to hear that these guys were rounded up and shot, but similar thing happen in many countries where the local elites make their livings on unskilled or low-skilled labor, sometime more subtly, sometimes with threats or actual violence:

Rebecca Brown

Sad but very true...

For we know that history repeats itself.

Y como lo hacen, cual es el negocio

That´s a line from a Frankie Ruiz´s song. . Ortega is more clever than people give him credit for. For one he knows how to manage the people around him. Besides he is taking his cues from a long list of men and political establishments from both sides of the aisle that´ve managed to stay in power for a long time, Castro and Somoza, the PRI in Mexico, Mr Pinochet just to name a few. Money, to buy your rivals, guns to keep everybody in line, and lawyers, to write your own laws as you see fit. A ruler, tyrant, strong man, caudillo, dictator or party´s tools of the trade.