Ecuador’s Foreign Mister Ricardo Patino listens to an official during his visit to a high tech park in Hanoi, Vietnam , Tuesday, June 25, 2013. Patino said he doesn’t know where Edward Snowden is or what travel documents the National Security Agency leaker might be using. (AP Photo/Tran Van Minh)
QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — With Edward Snowden stuck in Moscow and Washington pushing hard for his return, many Ecuadoreans began realizing Tuesday that this small country’s deep economic ties with the U.S. could make it the one with the most to lose in the high-stakes international showdown over the National Security Agency leaker.
While President Rafael Correa’s leftist government was virtually silent on Snowden’s request for asylum, Ecuadorean analysts said his fate, or at least his safe harbor in Ecuador, could depend as much on frozen vegetables and flowers as on questions over freedom of expression and international counterterrorism.
Unlike with China, Russia or Cuba, countries where the U.S. has relatively few tools to force Snowden’s handover, the Obama administration could swiftly hit Ecuador in the pocketbook by denying reduced tariffs on cut flowers, artichokes and broccoli. Those represent hundreds of millions of dollars in annual exports for this country where nearly half of foreign trade depends on the U.S.
A denial wouldn’t mean financial devastation for Ecuador, Login to read more