Democracy Now! - March 20, 2015
The Obama administration is facing criticism across Latin America for leveling new sanctions against Venezuela and declaring the country an "unusual and extraordinary threat to national security." On Saturday, foreign ministers of the 12-country Union of South American Nations called for a revocation of the sanctions. In a statement, the ministers said: "It constitutes an interventionist threat to sovereignty and the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries." On Thursday, U.S. policy in Venezuela was also questioned during a meeting of the Organization of American States in Washington, D.C. Representatives from Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Argentina and other nations all criticized the U.S. approach. We speak to Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño, who took part in the Organization of American States meeting yesterday. Ecuador has offered to mediate dialogue between the United States and Venezuela.
Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño responds to recent reports Swedish prosecutors will seek to question WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. Assange has never been charged over allegations of sexual assault, yet he has been holed up in the embassy since 2012, fearing that if he steps outside, he will be arrested and extradited to Sweden, which could lead to his extradition to the United States — which is investigating Assange over WikiLeaks publishing classified documents. "We are pleased to see the Swedish prosecutors say that they now want to take the statements from Julian Assange at our embassy," Patiño says. "But at the same time, we are concerned that 1,000 days have gone by, 1,000 days with Julian Assange confined in our embassy, before they say that they are going to do what they should have done from day one."
In Ecuador, thousands of people took to the streets in Quito and at least 12 other cities on Thursday to protest against the government of President Rafael Correa. In Quito, protesters held signs reading "We want democracy" and "Say no to re-election." Demonstrators rallied in part to oppose constitutional changes that would allow indefinite re-election of the president and other officials. We speak to Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño about the protests, press freedom in Ecuador and the recent ruling by the International Court of Justice in the ongoing lawsuit against Chevron over oil pollution.