Reactions to the WikiLeaks revelations have ranged from dismissal (Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva), to outrage (Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez) to “I told you so” (Bolivian President Evo Morales). In Ecuador, President Rafael Correa and his administration instead seem to be walking a fine line between outrage and acquiescence.
Early last week Ecuador’s vice chancellor, Kintto Lucas, extended an invitation to WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange to come to Ecuador. Lucas claimed that Assange would have no problems obtaining residency in Ecuador. Furthermore, Lucas argued that Assange could teach the Ecuador media establishment a thing or two about good journalism.
President Correa responded the following day saying that Lucas’ invitation did not have the approval of the chancellor or of the President. In his rebuttal, Correa also noted that the Ecuadorian government respects U.S. law and would support any charges against Assange for violations of the law. Correa simultaneously stated that his administration was unhappy with the content of the leaked documents and would be carefully reviewing those relevant to Ecuador, as well as those relevant to actual or attempted golpes in the region.
On December 3, Correa, speaking from Argentina, revisited the WikiLeaks issue. He stated that relations with the United States are “at the least, battered,” due to the WikiLeaks scandal. Correa stated “Ecuador and the rest of the world should sit down and talk with the U.S. and say enough with the interference in our sovereignty and independence.” El Comercio then reports that he continued by reiterating that his government is closely analyzing the documents “to see the extent of disloyalty and even manipulation, to react, to take an official position.”
Over the weekend Ecuador proposed that the countries participating in the Cumbre Iberoamericana formally denounce the United States and the leaked cables. However, the motion did not have enough support (e.g., Brazil and Mexico), and therefore no statement about the U.S. and WikiLeaks will be made.
So while Correa has distanced himself from the potentially inflammatory Lucas invitation and affirmed his anger with the content of the WikiLeaks documents, he has not outright admonished the U.S. government. The Ecuadorian government will surely express concern—or perhaps outrage—that the U.S., while internally determining that the Honduran coup was clearly “illegal,” did not officially speak out against the coup. However, in his public statements and his multilateral efforts, Correa has displayed restraint. What he has done is left the door open to castigate the U.S., but without actually crossing the diplomatic line of decency.
*Lindsay Green-Barber is a guest blogger to AmericasQuarterly.org. She is a graduate teaching fellow at Hunter College and PhD candidate at City University in New York and is in Ecuador doing field research for her doctoral dissertation on information and communication technologies and social movements in developing countries.