Ecuador is in the news these days for its embassy in London giving sanctuary to Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder, who is in danger of extradition from Britain and prosecution in the United States. Ecuador, in fact, has a long history of defying the U.S. empire.
Few people remember that the country once defied the U.S. by joining a wave of nonviolent campaigns in 1944, as the Second World War was coming to a close. U.S. embassies at the time were trumpeting President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms, his ideological justification for the war. The irony was that, among the series of U.S.-backed dictatorships in Latin America, even one freedom was subversive, much less four.
El Salvador initiated a five-country wave of resistance in April, when army officers launched a military coup against U.S.-backed dictator Maximiliano Hernández Martínez, who had held power for over a decade. He’d done the usual things: censored the press, outlawed dissident parties, targeted labor activists and peasant organizers and set up a secret police force.
In 1944, it was reasonable to think that only a violent rebellion could destroy the regime, and a conspiracy emerged to do exactly that. Martínez put down the military revolt. He then hunted down anyone he thought might have been involved in the plot, and a bloodbath began.
The university students ...