Latin American scholars critical of coverage of Snowden affair

July 17, 2013

Worldview

AP/file
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, left, Ecuador's President Rafael Correa, right, and Bolivia's President Evo Morales acknowledge supporters during a welcome ceremony for presidents attending a meeting in Bolivia.

The U.S. media, Latin America and Snowden's asylum

Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency leaker made famous for revealing classified details of a U.S. surveillance program, has just submitted a request for temporary asylum in Russia. Snowden, whose spent the last several weeks at the Moscow airport claims he could face persecution, torture and even death if he's returned to the United States.  If his asylum request is granted he could stay in Russia for the next year.

But Russia wasn't the only country that Snowden considered for asylum.  There was a long list of countries where, according to WikiLeaks, he could end up. These included several Latin American nations: Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua.  His choices for asylum received extensive coverage in the media.

Now, a  group of Latin American scholars and professors have sent out a letter to media outlets across the United States addressing the media's portrayal of Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela in relation to the Edward Snowden case. The letter is critical of how these countries have been covered by the media and states, for example, that "media distortions of the state of democracy and press freedoms in countries that are routinely condemned by the U.S. government – such as Venezuela and Ecuador - contribute to a climate of demonization that enables U.S. aggression against those countries and damages relations between the people of the U.S. and our foreign neighbors."

You can read the entire letter here:

An Open Letter to the Media - Snowden and Latin America

Steve Striffler, the Doris Zemurray Stone Chair in Latin American Studies and a professor of anthropology and geography at the University of New Orleans, is one of the authors of the letter. He joins Worldview to discuss what he thinks the media has gotten wrong.