Financial Advisor, Political Analyst and Jolly Globetrotter Alex Rosen on Snowden in Latin America
Breaking news—the US government is spying on its own people. They are tracking phone calls and internet searches. It was on CNN.
Unless you had your head completely in the sand over the past decade this should not have come as a great surprise. Governments have been spying on their people since the dawn of nations. The only difference is now it is more sophisticated.George Orwell predicted this would happen 30 years ago.
By now unless you have been hiding in an international airport transit terminal or the jungles of Bolivia you’ve probably heard about Edward Snowden the American security analyst who revealed information about “top secret” US government surveillance programs on its own citizenry.
If you are like me, when you heard what the government was doing, you probably shrugged your shoulders, thought for a moment about one more confirmed government intrusion into our private lives and then went on about your internet searches or cell phone calls without much second thought.
Where the story really gets interesting though is what happened after Snowden outed the US government. In a bit of irony, fearing government retaliation for his actions, Snowden fled to China—that bastion of privacy and respect for individual rights. He hid there until the US sent a request for extradition.
Like any good bureaucracy they sent the form back noting the failure to initialize line 7 of page 15 in article 3 of the second copy of the request and failure to specify the marital status of the person in question. While waiting for the form to be resubmitted, Mr. Snowden then boarded a flight to Moscow another country that would—of course—under no circumstances ever spy on its own.
Upon arriving in Moscow the US finally had the good sense to revoke his passport and leave him as a stateless person and also the basis for a movie starring Tom Hanks and Catherine Zeta Jones. Enter Latin America. The axis of relatively insignificant yet still autonomous nations united once again to thumb their collective noses at the United States.
In the past few weeks, with the assistance of Sarah Harrison,a British journalist and Julian Assange’s (WikiLeaks) closest advisor, Snowden has been shopping himself to various countries. Initial reports said that he was headed for Cuba, then he had a travel document for Ecuador which was revoked.
The most fascinating of all stories though was a rumor that Bolivian president Evo Morales had secreted Snowden aboard his presidential jet to fly him back to Bolivia.
This rumor was so serious that President Morales’s plane was denied air space in virtually all of Western Europe and eventually forced to land in Vienna where allegedly theAustrian border police searched the jet. Imagine if La Paz demanded Air Force to descend for inspection in El Alto.
Eventually President Morales was allowed to leave and returned to Bolivia.
Done pondering Obama wandering around La Paz with soroche? Ponder this. The president of a sovereign nation flying aboard the presidential jet on an approved flight plan that required a refueling stop before crossing the Atlantic suddenly in midair finds his flight path restricted and is forced to land in a supposedly neutral country that conveniently has a customs police squad waiting to search the presidential plane. Talk about high stakes politics—this is 35,000 feet high.
Imagine if instead of harmless Bolivia, this had been North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, or Iranian president Ahmadinejad or even better, British Prime Minister David Cameron.This is tantamount to kidnapping. President Obama has stated that he would not scramble jets to capture one man, but he did not say that he would not land jets to capture him.
Not surprisingly, once Morales finally landed in Bolivia, hecondemned the actions and offered Snowden asylum, perhaps in response to the actions taken against Evo Morales, or perhaps as a show of Bolivarian support, Nicaragua and Venezuela have both subsequently offered asylum as well.
For now, Snowden remains in limbo in Russia while he weighs his options as a citizen of nowhere, but one thing is certain, the longer he remains at large and the more the U.S. tries to close it’s net around him, the more they disenfranchise the rest of the world. At the current rate, Snowden may unify all of Latin America.
If that happens perhaps he should be nominated for a Nobel Prize.
Alex Rosen has acted as Wealth Advisor with Veritas Wealth Advisors, LLC and as a Political Analyst with Fundación Pensar in Argentina.