Globovision reports that President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela on Friday offered asylum to US leaker Edward Snowden, in order, he said, to protect him from “imperial North American persecution,” describing the US government as among the “most oppressive in the world.” He said he hoped Snowden would be able to live “quietly in the free country of Bolívar and Chávez.”
Maduro made the statement on Venezuela’s Independence Day, commemorating that country’s July 5, 1811 declaration of independence. A week and a half ago, Maduro had complained that the US routinely grants asylum to right wing Venezuelans who were guilty of terrorism and killings, and that it was a small thing to give asylum to someone who merely blew the whistle on government surveillance. Maduro pointed to the US allowing Luis Posada Carriles to live freely in Miami, even though he blew up a plane with 73 persons aboard and thereby nearly killed prominent American journalist Stephen Kinzer. It is thought that the US government protects Posada Cariles because he had worked for the CIA and could reveal many unsavory secrets if he were extradited abroad.
Maduro signaled that several Latin American leaders had showed a determination to adopt the same position as his own. Indeed, soon after his own announcement, Nicaragu’s Daniel Ortega said he would welcome Snowden “with great pleasure” if circumstances permitted. The US U.S. Marines occupied Nicaragua for most of the period from 1912 to 1933 and Washington later supported the Samoza dictatorship against which Ortega and the Sandinistas rebelled. In the 1980s, US President Ronald Reagan funded “contra” death squads to kill the Sandinistas, but lost. (Reagan got funding for the Contras from Saudi Arabia and from secretly stealing weaponry from the Pentagon warehouses and selling it under the table to Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini, whom Reagan had designated a terrorist).
One of the things that appears to have pushed Maduro into making a final and open decision on the matter was the denial overflight rights to Bolivian president Evo Morales by several Western European countries on Tuesday, apparently because of US pressure. Washington suspected that Snowden might be on the Bolivian Air Force jet. Morales was returning from energy talks in Moscow. Morales was forced to divert to Vienna, where Austrian authorities allegedly asked permission to search the plane but were refused. France’s Francois Hollande later explained that his country had not known the plane was Morales’s. Six of the Latin American leaders were furious at this treatment of one of their own. Maduro called the diversion of Morales’s plane an “act of aggression” and said he had evidence that European airspace was closed to the Bolivian president by the US Central Intelligence Agency.
The USG Open Source Center paraphrased from the Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s comments of last week, which telegraphed his decision (I added the hyperlinks to further identify the individuals to whom the US government has granted asylum, one of whom blew up an airplane with 73 people aboard, and two others who set off bombs at the Colombian and Spanish embassies in Caracas):
“Caracas Radio Nacional de Venezuela Online on 26 June reports that President Maduro criticized that the US Government demands that other governments deny political asylum to former national security expert Edward Snowden despite protecting terrorists such as Luis Posada Carriles.
He also rejected that “the United States has granted political asylum to several former Venezuelan military officers who, led by fascist groups, set off bombs at the Colombian Embassy and the Spanish Consulate and who live in Miami with the protection of the US Government.
The United States granted political asylum to an unsavory character named Eligio Cedeno, who launders drug money and was tried in Venezuela on this charge. He has also received protection.”
He condemned that the US Government is demanding Snowden’s arrest and extradition. He added: “This 29-year-old man has not set off bombs, murdered anyone or stolen anything. All he did was look at himself in the mirror one day and say to himself: ‘What I am doing to the world? This is not right’ He rebelled. He (Snowden) belongs to a great rebellion of US youths that is under way, the rebellion of consciences, (and) the rebellion of principles.”
He reiterated that the United States “spies on the entire world,” which “violates the international laws of self-determination (and) sovereignty.” He expressed confidence that “80 percent” of Venezuelans would agree with granting asylum to Snowden, which is “a deeply humane position.”
In a related report, Caracas El Universal Online on 27 June cites Maduro reiterating that if Snowden filed for political asylum, “we would consider (his request) and most likely would approve it.” He commented: “Apparently, Ecuador has received a formal request from them and is considering it.”