Friday, July 19, 2013

U.S. continues to hammer Venezuela over Snowden case

Why make friends, when it's so much easier to win enemies?

*Updated Aug. 1*
Guadalajara -
While former NSA security contractor Edward Snowden is cooling his heels in Moscow, awaiting a decision on his pending application for interim political asylum in Russia, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is busy carrying out the boss' orders, making implied threats anew.

In a phone call this morning to his counterpart, Venezuelan foreign minister Elías Jaua, Kerry warned once again that Snowden has a date with an Alexandria, Virginia federal judge to deal with that pesky Espionage Act charge - as if Jaua had been on a good will tour of the New Hebrides, and perhaps unaware of that elementary fact.

It's a solid indication that Washington knows Snowden is Latin America bound - indeed, the fugitive contractor has plainly said so himself. A message from Moscow.

Last week Barack Obama called his old KGB friend in Moscow, Vladimir Putin, who politely listened to the president's repeated importuning, and just as politely said no - Snowden will not be extradited under any circumstances. How many times does Washington need to hear that? Moscow has stated its case several times, in Russian, Spanish and English. Putin says Snowden is still in Russia.

That's why Kerry was back on the horn today with minister Jaua. Of the four Latin nations which have offered Snowden asylum, Venezuela far and away is his most likely destination, once Moscow issues him some official looking papers, all typed up in those nice Cyrillic letters.

But Kerry's bid was and is a complete nonstarter. On June 26 Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro stuck his neck way out and said the Bolivarian Republic is ready to accept Snowden, even if none of its neighbors are.

Then on July 4 - U.S. independence day and the eve of Venezuela's own - in a very public ceremony Maduro flatly rejected Washington's demand for Snowden. What Latin male with an ego the size of Maduro's is going to try to wiggle out of that promise?

If anybody in Foggy Bottom still had doubts, they were surely resolved the next day - July 5 - when Nicolás Maduro unequivocally hosed down the front stoop and put out the welcome mat in Caracas. Venezuela offers Snowden "humanitarian asylum."

The U.S. must want some of its international partners to know about today's call, because a Spanish press source reported that a State Dept. official emailed Agence France Presse with details, albeit on the condition of anonymity. The story is not likely to play well in most of the Latin world, of course.

Kerry's long distance call was a waste of taxpayer money. It won't budge a man like Maduro, who's already boldly played his diplomatic hand. Short of a CIA-backed rendition (read: kidnapping ) plan - not to be discounted as the mere stuff of Tom Clancy fiction - Edward Snowden is going, going, gone.

John Kerry and All the President's Men are powerless to stop it.

Snowden's temporary Russian visa, good for a year, was granted Aug. 1. He left the airport the same day, and is now free to move about Moscow. His next stop could be Caracas.

Nicolás Maduro infuriated by U.S. ambassador nominee's comments about Venezuela
Samantha Power, U.N. ambassador nominee, speaks on human rights abuses - by the USA
Edward Snowden: Washington's massive miscalculation

July 10 - Enrique Peña Nieto: American espionage is "totally unacceptable"
July 10 - Mexico turns up heat on U.S. over PRISM surveillance
July 6 - Bolivia joins the crowd: Morales offers Snowden asylum
July 5 - Evo Morales: "We will close the U.S. embassy in La Paz"
June 27 - Ecuador's gutsy "stick it"
June 27 - Ecuador unilaterally cancels beneficial trade pact with U.S.

© MGRR 2013. All rights reserved. This article may be cited or briefly quoted with proper attribution or a hyperlink, but not reproduced without permission.

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