Making calculated decisions
Rafael Correa is a committed leftist and former lay missionary whose first run at elected office was his successful 2006 election as Ecuador’s president.
He is also a U.S.- and European-educated economist who tempers his trademark impulsiveness with high calculation. His decision to grant WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange asylum Thursday was anything but an emotional roll of the dice.
Correa, 49, knew he would likely deeply offend the United States, Britain and Sweden and likely the European Union. He also knew he would be inviting commercial and political retaliation that might hurt his small petroleum-exporting nation of 14 million people.
No such retaliation has yet come, though Britain says it won’t allow Assange safe passage out of the country. Sweden, where Assange is wanted for questioning for alleged sexual misconduct, summoned Ecuador’s ambassador to issue a stern protest.
Offering asylum to the man responsible for the biggest-ever spilling of U.S. secrets was apparently too attractive for Correa to resist. It let him stake a claim to moral high ground, associating himself with a man whose loyalists consider him a digital age Robin Hood crusading against abuses of big governments and corporations.