He apparently has the same idea. News reports suggest that he is in Moscow awaiting transport to Cuba, Venezuela, and/or Ecuador. A Facebook post suggests Bolivia may have granted Snowden asylum. Nothing has been heard from Nicaragua, Peru, Brazil, or Argentina, but any or all might also welcome him.
Any country that grants asylum to Snowden risks retaliation from the United States, including diplomatic isolation and costly trade sanctions. Several don’t seem to care. The fact that Latin America has become the favored refuge for a United States citizen accused of treason and espionage is an eye-popping reminder of how fully the continent has emerged from Washington’s shadow.
“Latin America is not gone, and we want to keep it,” President Richard Nixon told aides as he was pressing the covert operation that brought down the Chilean government in 1973. A decade later, the Reagan administration was fighting proxy wars in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala. In the 1980s the US Army invaded two Caribbean countries, Grenada and Panama, to depose leaders who had defied Washington.
During the 1990s the United States sought to impose the “Washington Consensus” on Latin American governments. It embodied what Latin Americans call “neo-liberal” principles: budget cuts, privatization, deregulation of business, and incentives for foreign companies. This campaign sparked bitter resistance and ultimately collapsed.
Because President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela was the most flamboyant of these defiant leaders, some outsiders may have expected that following his death, the region would return to its traditional state of submission. In fact, not just a handful of leaders but huge populations in Latin America have decided that they wish for more independence from Washington.
This is vital for Snowden because it reduces the chances that a sudden change of government could mean his extradition. If he can make it to Latin America, he will never lack for friends or supporters.
Two breathtakingly different possible lives await Snowden. If the United States has its way, he will probably end up with something like the long prison sentence that is being prepared for Corporal Manning. If not, he could spend years in an Ecuadoran beach town like Playas, where the lobster is cheap, the sunsets are spectacular, and internet connections could keep him on the front line of the information war for years.