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In the run-up to Ecuador's February 2012 elections, President Rafael Correa has strategically aimed to portray himself as a leader of the left, said Gustavo Palacio of Ecuador Democracy International at an AEI event on Tuesday. Palacio claimed the political asylum that Ecuador has provided to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has allowed Correa to position himself accordingly.
Palacio joined Roger Noriega of AEI, Jose Cardenas of Cardenas Strategic Solutions and Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research to discuss the ramifications of Correa's offer of asylum to Assange and the president's continuous attack on freedom of the press in Ecuador. Weisbrot argued that it is a misrepresentation to characterize Ecuador as a country without freedom of the press, considering the media itself functions as a political actor.
Cardenas alleged that in Russia, China and Iran, there are legitimate threats to freedom of speech; however, instead of targeting these countries in his WikiLeaks activities, Assange has instead continued to attack America. Assange's decision to seek political protection in Ecuador has thus simply helped expose him as a fraud, concluded Cardenas.Ecuador’s Rafael Correa has offered political asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, which some have deemed a bid to launder his image as one of South America’s oppressors of free speech and rule of law. As a supporter of Hugo Chavez’s radical populist agenda, Correa has been criticized for systematically attacking the separation of powers, freedom of the press and property rights in his country.
--Alex Della Rocchetta
Can Ecuador’s president successfully whitewash his image by advancing Assange’s anti-American crusade? Will these two misfits cause conflict by thumbing their noses at traditional concepts of the rule of law? Join a panel discussion on this timely and significant topic.
If you cannot attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.
Jose Cardenas, Cardenas Strategic Solutions
Roger F. Noriega, AEI
Gustavo Palacio, Ecuador Democracy International
Mark Weisbrot, Center for Economic and Policy Research
For more information, please contact Alex Della Rocchetta at ADR@aei.org, 202.862.7152.
For media inquiries, please contact Véronique Rodman at firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.862.4871.
José R. Cárdenas is acting assistant administrator in the Latin America and Caribbean Bureau of the U.S. Agency for International Development. He joined the Bush administration in February 2004 and served more than two years as a senior adviser in the Western Hemisphere Affairs Bureau of the U.S. Department of State. In August 2006, Mr. Cárdenas joined the National Security Council, serving as a director in the Western Hemisphere Directorate until November 2007. Previously, he served in senior positions with the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Mr. Cárdenas began his career advocating on behalf of a free Cuba with the Cuban American National Foundation, which he joined as a staff assistant before working his way up to director of its Washington operations.
Roger F. Noriega is a visiting fellow at AEI and the founder and managing director of Visión Américas LLC, which advises U.S. and foreign clients on international business issues. He served as the assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs (Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean) from July 2003 to October 2005 and as the U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States from August 2001 to July 2003. Noriega is currently vice chairman of the board of directors of the Congressional Award Foundation and a member of the advisory boards of the Canadian American Border Trade Partnership and The Americano, an online forum for Latino voters.
Gustavo Palacio is the president of the non-profit organization Democracy International Ecuador. Palacio, a career diplomat, served as consul general in Moscow, as director of the World Trade Center in Moscow and as charge de affairs Moscow. He also served as a representative to the Ecuadorian Mission at the United Nations from 2002 to 2003, as director of the Inter-American Development Bank in Ecuador from 2005 to 2007, as an alternate representative of Ecuador to the Organization for American States in 2007 and as international relations manager of the Nobis Group from 2007 to 2011. Palacio writes for the electronic newspaper Ecudorenvivo and serves as a fellow researcher at Georgetown University’s Latin American Center, where he is currently working on projects focused on sustainable development, democracy, U.S.-Latin American relations and authoritarian populism.
Mark Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He has written numerous research papers on economic policy, especially on Latin America and international economic policy. He is also the co-author (with Dean Baker) of “Social Security: The Phony Crisis” (University of Chicago Press, 2000). Weisbrot also writes a weekly column for The Guardian Unlimited and a regular column on economic and policy issues that is distributed to over 550 newspapers by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. His opinion pieces have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, among other major U.S. newspapers. His pieces have also appeared in Brazil’s largest newspaper, Folha de Sao Paulo. Weisbrot appears regularly on national and local television and radio programs and is the president of Just Foreign Policy.