August 17, 2012 (TSR) – Latin American countries voiced support Thursday for Ecuador’s latest decision to grant political asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, a move that triggered a diplomatic row between Quito and London.
The members of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) — Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador and three Caribbean island nations — said in a statement that they “strongly object” to the British threat of raiding Ecuador’s embassy in London to seize Assange, who has taken refuge there since June 19.
The statement said Britain would violate the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and face “grave consequences if the threats are carried out.”
The ALBA also expressed its “steadfast solidarity” with Ecuador, which granted political asylum to Assange on Thursday.
Jorge Tarud, president of the Chamber of Deputies Foreign Relations Committee in the Chilean Congress, on Thursday asked the Chilean government to give full support to Ecuador on the issue.
Uruguayan Foreign Minister Luis Almagro also urged Britain to “respect the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, and to guarantee the privileges, inviolability and immunity of Ecuador’s embassy.”
On the same day, Bolivia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that a British raid on Ecuador’s embassy would be “unacceptable aggression,” calling on regional organizations to hold talks on the issue to avoid any escalation.
Assange has stayed in Ecuador’s embassy in London for fear of being extradited by the British government to Sweden for two sexual assault charges.
It was feared that Stockholm would hand Assange over to the United States, where he may face death penalty if being convicted of releasing tens of thousands of secret documents on the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Washington has been angered by the leaks of Assange’s WikiLeaks website, saying the act would endanger U.S. national security.
The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (Spanish: Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América, or ALBA) is an international cooperation organization based on the idea of social, political, and economic integration between the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. It is associated with socialist and social democratic governments and is an attempt at regional economic integration based on a vision of social welfare, bartering and mutual economic aid, rather than trade liberalization as with free trade agreements. The member nations are Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Venezuela. At the February 2012 summit, Suriname and Saint Lucia were admitted to ALBA as guest countries. ALBA nations are in the process of introducing a new regional currency, the SUCRE. It was intended to be the common virtual currency by 2010 and eventually a hard currency. On Tuesday, July 6, 2010, Venezuela and Ecuador conducted the first bilateral trade deal between two ALBA countries using the new trading currency, the Sucre, instead of the US dollar. As of December 2010, there are three countries that hold Observer status in ALBA, including Iran, Syria and Haiti.