We talk to Fidel Narvaez, the ousted Ecuadorian diplomat who handled Julian Assange’s case about why Lenín Moreno caved to international pressure, broke his promises, and gave Assange up to British authorities.
Assange had been granted asylum in 2012, at the height of Latin America’s Pink Tide, when progressive governments across the continent challenged US interference in the region. Six and a half years later, Assange’s expulsion reflects a rightwards shift in Ecuadorian politics and a new president, Lenín Moreno, willing to serve US interests.
For his cooperation, Moreno has been warmly received by Washington, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressing his enthusiasm to “continue to work in partnership” with Ecuador.
To discuss the dynamics behind Ecuador’s decision to expel the Australian Wikileaks founder, Jacobin spoke to Fidel Narvaez, the former Ecuadorian consul in London, who was instrumental in obtaining asylum for Assange in 2012, and who spent six years at the embassy with him.
Stefania Maurizi: When did you first hear about Julian Assange?
Fidel Narvaez: I first heard of Julian in 2010, when Wikileaks began publishing the archives of American military and diplomatic document. I personally approached him in 2011, because my government was interested in making public all the diplomatic cables on Ecuador. We were not looking for privileged access to the cables, but we did want them available in the public domain. To that end, in May 2011, Wikileaks released all those documents — and with no strings attached.
Since then, I had maintained some contact with the Wikileaks team, so when Julian reached the stage where he needed protection, and knocked on Ecuador’s door, he came to me first. I felt very strongly about the idea of protecting him, because my background is not in diplomacy, but in human rights. I was absolutely convinced that he needed protection.
SM: Did you ever perceive that by providing protection to Assange, Ecuador’s then president, Rafael Correa, wanted to antagonize the United States?
FN: The United States is a major superpower. It’s also Ecuador’s most important economic partner, so it’s not in our interest to look for a fight.