Archive for the 'Ecuador' Category

More about Ecuador and Assange

Saturday, August 18th, 2012

Below is a link to more about the event at the Ecuadorian consulate on Thursday.  There are photographs and video.

Hands Off Ecuador and Assange!
Friday, 17 August 2012
© 2012 – World Can’t Wait

A Sovereign Decision by Ecuador: Making the Right to Free Speech Real

Friday, August 17th, 2012

I arrived a little early, as I always do, with my bouquet of flowers that would later be filmed close up by both the AP and the Reuters teams present for our demonstration.  There were police barriers out in front of the building where the Consulate of the Republic of Ecuador is located and I was a little wary.  The police on duty paid me no mind and the person at the desk in the lobby whom I asked knew nothing of our action.  It had been called late by the World Can’t Wait in response to Ecuador’s granting political asylum to Julian Assange.  WCW suggested we bring flowers, thank you letters, and signs and assemble at the consulate at 5pm.

Sharon and Julie, bearing flowers and signs, showed up soon.  It was great to see Fran again, too.  She and I have had memorable experiences on the streets.  This one turned out to be one I shall never forget.

Fewer than a dozen in all, we had signs that said things like “Bravo, Ecuador!” and “Thank you, Ecuador!”  Several of us had flowers.  We did not chant slogans and demand the end to wars and torture as we usually do.  We were there to say Thank You.  Bob Parsons arrived soon and set about finding out if we could deliver our gifts and express our thanks to the Consul and the staff.  During the time he was inside, the press filmed us and asked us for interviews.  We were not numerous, but this was a momentous occasion.  Ecuador, the small country with a huge heart, has been protecting Assange for weeks.  It announced today that it was offering him political asylum.

The process of reaching that decision is reported to have been quite painstaking.  Mark Weisbrot published an article in the Guardian of 16 August 2012, which tells the whole story and which you can read here.  The US, which claims to be a defender of human rights, despite its long record of abuses abroad and at home, is now called out by a tiny country in Latin America that really takes human rights seriously.

A tall young man from the Consulate came down to see us with our flowers and signs and got permission to take us up to meet the Consul and staff.  Cramped into the elevators with the press, we went up, I feeling euphoric and excited.

With the press cameras rolling, Sr. Jorge Lopez Amaya met us and it was my honor to offer him the bouquet I had brought.  He listened as Bob told him how grateful we are for the stand Ecuador has taken in the matter of protecting free speech and the rights of journalists in this matter.

Sr Jorge Lopez Amaya

Sr. Lopez appeared more than a little moved by our expressions of support and gratitude.  Small wonder since the official US reaction has not been supportive, indeed might even be styled hostile.  He thanked us sincerely.  He also introduced Linda Machuca Mosoosa, who is the elected member of the National Assembly of Ecuador for the Ecuadorians who live in the US and Cuba.  Just because a person has left Ecuador does not mean she or he is no longer wanted there.  There are a number of National Assembly members who represent émigrés from Ecuador to other places on the planet.  Sra Machuca is here to meet with her constituents.  Later this evening, there would be a meeting there at the Consulate to discuss the scholarships that Ecuador provides for students to attend colleges and universities in the US.  Not money for invasions and torture, but for education abroad as well as at home.  It was thrilling to me to see this and compare it to US cuts in education as its wars and torture go on unabated.

Sra Linda Machuca Mosoosa

Sra. Machuca spoke of the desire of the Republic of Ecuador to make human rights “real”.  The government does not want to place the right to free speech in the realm of an ideal that is just talked about.  They see the decision about Assange as a concrete action they can take to defend the right to free speech.

Both Sr Lopez and Sra Machuca emphasized that the decision about Assange was a “sovereign decision.”  Sovereignty is a major issue for this country, which has been treated as a colony of the US in fact if not in name, as most Latin American countries have been.  Their new constitution forbids foreign military bases there, and gives them the power to be a sovereign state, to make their own decisions.  The one about Assange is a major one, and they know that.

I was impressed with their making free speech real and also with their making education real.  Rafael Correa, president of Ecuador, holds a PhD in economics from the University of Illinois as well as a degree from a European university and an Ecuadorean one.  He and his fellow Ecuadorians strongly support education, working diligently to make it real for the people of their country.  They strongly support human rights, and practice what they preach in this matter as well.  A friend of mine used to remind me that my principles are what I live by, not what I just talk about.  The people of Ecuador are living by their principles in these areas.

While Sra Machuca spoke and the media recorded that and photographed us standing with her and other staff members around the Ecuadorian flag and such, Sr. Lopez withdrew for a short time.  He returned with a gift for every one of us–a colorful bag with Ecuador Love Life on it.  Their motto Ecuador ama la vida is very inspiring.  And they are making that love of life real in many ways at home and in the world.  In the bag were maps and photographs and literature about the country and notepaper also marked with this motto.  Sr Lopez had no idea we were coming, but they managed to put these gifts together at a moment’s notice.  I was touched at their making their ideas about hospitality real to us.  They seem to know that making things real is about all the relationships they have with people.

When it was finally time for us to leave, Sr. Lopez hugged and kissed us all.  I left with hope for humanity.  If one small country can produce people like these, maybe the whole world really can.

Several of us walked over to Third Avenue and up several blocks to the British Consulate where the Occupy movement has settled in and plans to stay until Assange is out of the UK.  They were thrilled to hear we had been to the Ecuadorian Consulate.  Though not numerous, they are tenacious.  The police were not harassing them during the time I was there.  Let’s hope that continues.  They report that Assange is scheduled to give a speech on Sunday and they anticipate a larger contingent then  if not before.  OWS is clearly on the job.  I will report about them again later.