OAS Resolution on UK threat to Ecuador

The OAS met today to see if it could formulate a resolution concerning the UK threat to storm the Embassy of Ecuador in London. The page about the meeting is here.

The resolution was adopted. I am attaching a PDF copy as the original (pointed to on the page above) is in a proprietary format and not everyone will have a copy of handy programs such as LibreOffice to read it. The attached version includes a footnote showing that Canada made a fool of itself. The US footnote is forthcoming. Just listening to the US representative indicates that it will take some professional BS writers to compose the footnote.

The meeting itself was more interesting than what most people would call just politics. First, the fact that all the little guys stood together in support of Ecuador was very encouraging. Ecuador has far less to lose that most of the other nations by offending the US and UK so they really did decide it was worth sticking their neck out in solidarity. Ecuador clearly saw it like that. Here is a tweet from Ricardo Patiño Aroca ‏, Foreign Minister of Ecuador

David sí puede enfrentar a Goliat, cuando se está en buena compañía. Hoy se demostró en la OEA

The other positive note is that this was not just a rubber stamp meeting. Various member states expressed concern with some of the things said in the proposed resolution. Ecuador agreed to meet with Chile and Venezuela to revise the proposed statement to address these concerns. Changes were made and everyone except the US and its little sister Canada were satisfied. They would never have been satisfied because they basically said the OAS should not be involved.

(Note that I was going to include this as a comment in the previous "Asylum for Assange" thread but I wanted to capability to attach the PDF directly.)

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Maybe the Brits are still angry over Ecuadors decision to default on their bond payments even though they had the financial resources. Little things like that can really strain relations dont know know.

It didn't end there

That was in 2008. You left out the part about the debt buy-back and how in June, this year, their credit rating was upgraded for the first time in 2 years.

UK Withdraws Threat

The Guardian has a video report where Correa states that the UK has withdrawn the threat.


Their hypocrisy runneth over!

How many years have we heard the Mouth of the South and all his little ALBA-puppets spew venom at the OAS? How many times have these foolios threatened to "quit" the OAS?

Now, suddenly, the OAS is "good".

Waste of time, space and electrons.


I think not

The issue with the OAS, for years, is that many members have been afraid to stand up to the US. They have, usually individually, sucumbed to political pressure. Thus, you see decisions made for reasons that are quite outside what is being discussed.

This particular case was interesting because it was about a country outside the region/not an OAS member threatening an OAS member. It happens to be a member with little in the way of ties, particularly economic ties, to the agressor. What happened was that other member states felt they could explain their own ties to the UK and explain they didn't want to piss them off but then explain why the UK action was inappropriate.

To the best of my knowledge (I did miss a few speakers and didin't understand a couple--I was listening in the language being used and French and Portugese are not my forté) all the nations pointed out that open negotiation was what was needed to resolve the dispute and that the UK and Ecuador needed to open those discussions. There were some comments about being willing to assist in any way possible but there wasn't anyone offering to get into the middle of the discussion. That just makes sense.

The wrong that was done was the threat on the part of the UK and there wasn't anyone (including Canada and the US) saying the UK was justified in making that threat. Thus, the result is asking the UK to play fair in its negotiation with an OAS member state. To that extent, it was a very productive meeting.

Where the problem with the OAS comes in is generally where the econimic interests of the US conflict with those of one or more of the smaller member states. While there are organizations representing various sub-sets of Latin American nations, it still does seem useful to have a place where such discussions can take place among Latin American member states without US involvement.

Resolution Seems Fair

and a bit of a two-sided sword:

Resolution affirms the inviolability of diplomatic missions, and then:

"To urge the Governments of Ecuador and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to continue to engage in dialogue in order to settle their current differences in accordance with international law, taking into account the statements made recently by authorities of both governments."

You can read anything into the above statement that you want. UK recognizes Ecuadoran diplomatic premises; Ecuador recognizes UK rule of law.

Hypocrisy is everywhere evident:

As the Washington Post recently reported:

"Press freedom advocates say that no other country in Latin America is moving so fast and on so many fronts to restrain the media as tiny, banana-producing Ecuador. President Rafael Correa, an American-educated leftist economist who has forged close alliances with Cuba and Iran, has filed a defamation lawsuit that might put the three directors of the country's largest newspaper in jail and shutter their 90-year-old paper. The government has cobbled together a framework of laws and constitutional revisions to limit press independence, free expression groups say, while building a media conglomerate to disparage critics and counter independent media reports."

What is press freedom?

The title is not intended to just ba an acaemic question. In the 1400s, Johannes Gutenberg introduced the movable type printing press. Until very recently, the concept of words mass printed on paper has been the basis of mass communiations. In the last century we added radio and then television to the mix but the freedom of mass communications still depended on owning the press. Put another way, you needed capital to become part of the free press.

Only very recently has a new method of mass communications, the Internet, allowed one to join what has historically been a select club. In some countries, China being an obvious example but clearly not the only one, the government sees this as a serious threat to their control. This, of course, is a realistic fear.

If we look at events during the 1980s in Nicaragua, we will see examples of press censorship. The censorship was real and the government's argument was that the country was engaged in a war and censorship was necessary because the lies in the press were being funded by sources outside of Nicaragua. The censorship was real, the external funding was also real. What was the truth vs. what was being said by the press is up for debate. What is not up for debate is that the press was a business which required capital to operate. It was not in the best interest of that press to support that which would result in their own demise.

One method of addressing this natural bias is to have a public funded press. The BBC is a good example. The BBC is funded by the British government. It has been relatively independent but it too has to be somewhat concerned with income. Something which financially affects the UK can reduce BBC funding.

A newer player is Al Jazeera and many BBC employees went to work there. Al Jazeera is funded by the government of Qatar. It has done some excellent investigative journalism but, like the BBC, it needs to be careful when a story could negatively affect the government of Qatar.

The good news is that with a publically funded press (which is the trend in Ecuador that some see as loss pf press freedom) you can see the bias. You expect the press to be pro-government. The trick is how to balance between publically funded and private press. That is not as easy as it may seem. Here is one current event that illustrates the problem.

TheNYTimes eXaminer bills itself as An antidote to the "paper of record" . The particular article the link points to is about what they see as a cozy relationship between the New York Times and Stratfor. From that article:

Three months after WikiLeaks began publishing The Global Intelligence Files — more than 5 million e-mails from the private intelligence gathering company Stratfor — New York Times London Bureau journalist Ravi Somaiya told his readers “WikiLeaks has not released any significant material for more than a year.” (“Deportation Decision Awaits WikiLeaks Founder,” May 29, 2012, NYT) Yet on the day The Global Intelligence Files were released (February 27, 2012) WikiLeaks conveyed that Stratfor has paid diplomatic sources; advocated for the psychological and material mistreatment of at least one informant; sought to utilize early access to intelligence for a strategic investment fund by creating a vehicle (StratCap) that would “trade in a range of geopolitical instruments, particularly government bonds”; monitored activists, including for its client Dow Chemical; and engaged in secret deals with media organizations. Somaiya’s dismissive superciliousness of The Global Intelligence Files is indicative of the Times’ treatment of WikiLeaks.

In this particular case, there certainly are indications of a cozy relationship. Having been in the publishing business, I can assure you that you are regularly placed in situations where someone will try to gain an advantage for their product or company by doing you a favor. In this particular case, it is that new free press, the Internet, that has at least given us the information necessary to question what the real press has told us.

How this will all play out in Ecuador, I don't know. What I do know is that knowing the facts is not easy when there are vested interests in which facts they want you to know. The good news is that as long as the Internet remains free (and that is another subject) there is a good chance that whether it is private capital or public funding that controls which facts you receive, the Internet will be what makes the press free.

Correa addresses press freedom hypocrisy

Here is an interview with Correa, from the UK's Guardian newspaper, covering both Assange and Ecuadorian press freedom.

It will al play out

as hot air on both sides, with Correa getting the Volume Award.

"You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality." Ayn Rand

Some Discussion

of the relevant law, and some discussion of press freedom in Ecuador.


As Jack Webb used to say on "Dragnet", "Just the facts, ma'am"

Today's tweet

This tweet seems to put the issue in perspective:

Bruce Leidl ‏@bleidl 3h

Yes @hrw, in Ecuador a newspaper had to answer in court for printing lies but in USA journalists face capital offense for telling the truth