Snowden in Nicaragua?

“US fugitive Edward Snowden has abandoned his request for political asylum in Russia after learning he would have to stop leaking intelligence reports, the Kremlin said Tuesday, as the American awaited asylum decisions from 20 other countries.” (Dmitry Zaks, AFP, July 2, 2013).

According to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, other countries in which Snowden may seek asylum include China, Cuba, France, Germany, Italy, India, Nicaragua and Spain. Nicaragua??? My expat home?  I’m torn with conflicting emotions if Nicaragua were to accept Snowden.

On the one hand, I believe that Snowden is a whistleblower, not a traitor. A traitor is someone who gives information to the enemy. Are ‘We the People’ the enemy? Don’t we have a right to know about our government’s secret surveillance program, especially if it is ‘We the People’ who are being watched?

Certainly, it is no secret because George W. Bush authorized warrantless wiretapping of international communications after the September 11, 2001 attacks as part of the war on terrorism. In 2005, public disclosure ignited the outrage of the potential misuse of data mining of e-mail messages and telephone call records in the NSA call database. We’ve known about this for years.

I’m siding with Snowden on this issue.  He is not a traitor, only a concerned citizen who risked his life and his professional career to inform us of the potential dangers of warrantless wiretapping and government surveillance of its own citizens.  Let’s face it, we all know that we are being watched, not only by our government, but by the marketing media who records every click, every ‘like’, and every internet move we make in the digital age.

The other day, I was researching metal detectors and protest music. Weird combination, I know, but sometimes in my mind works in mysterious ways. In looking for protest music on YouTube, a little ad at the bottom of the video tried to direct me to metal detectors. What??? How could they possibly know that I was researching metal detectors? Honestly, browser snooping scares me. It unnerves me to think that my every move on the internet is recorded for marketing purposes.

Yet, what frightens me more are the potential problems for Nicaragua. If Snowden were to receive asylum in my expat country would I offer him my guest house as a reprieve from the mad warlock hunt? Impulsively, I would say, “Yes”. I admire his bravery and his tenacity.  On the other hand, I imagine this scenario or nightmare…your choice:

Snowden snuggles peacefully under the mosquito net in our guest house, while unidentified flying objects circle the periphery of our property. Strangers disguised as lone fishermen, paddle around the lake wearing night goggles and Google glasses. Economic sanctions by the U.S. prohibit the export of Nicaraguan coffee, gold, and beef. The United States, Nicaragua’s main trading partner who bought 29% of Nicaragua’s exports in 2012, stops trading with Nicaragua. All U.S. expats and tourists are stopped at every border crossing, strip searched and aggressively interrogated. Legal expats can no longer leave or enter Nicaragua without special permission from the U.S. Tourism comes to an abrupt halt. Fear overwhelms the local people struggling to make a living because all trading has stopped. NGOs are prohibited from sending donations and supplies to Nicaragua. Nicaragua, my beloved adopted country, quickly loses all economic gains it has made in recent years.

If Edward Snowden knocks on my door in my little oasis of peace, I’m afraid  I would have to say, “Sorry, Edward. I admire your bravery, but I am a coward with too much at risk. Please find another country for political asylum.” For you see, I love Nicaragua more than I admire Snowden’s courageous whistle blowing. Life is all about making informed decisions. Every choice has a consequence whether good or bad, right or wrong, bitter or sweet. Laurie Buchanon says, “The life we live is an expression of the choices we make.” I chose Nicaragua before, and I will choose Nicaragua again. Surely, Snowden understands that individual choices can have global consequences. I wish you the best, Edward Snowden. Safe travels in your search for peace and political asylum.

Snowden in Nicaragua?

29 thoughts on “Snowden in Nicaragua?

  1. What a well reasoned opinion you have on this event. I must admit I was proud and a little scared for my beloved Nicaragua when I heard Ortega was first to offer asylum. As a Canadian, we dutifully always follow the US which embarrasses many of us. Daniel Ellsberg (a true American hero) wrote a wonderful opinion piece in the Washington Post . I have thought about Snowden’s courage but know I lack it. I do think the real damage and embarrassment caused by this story was the forcing down of the President Of Bolivia’s jet by the government’s of France, Spain, Portugal and Italy closing their airspace. My Latin friends in South America are outraged.

  2. I just showed my dogs a picture of a drone and sent them outside to keep watch before i sat down to write this email. I have to agree with you Deb, we are better off knowing that the (unnamed agency) has overstepped its legal reach into our privacy. If that were the only thing to consider….I would also applaud Mr. Snowden for his courage as a whistleblower. It seems inconsistent to me that this “patriot” would instantly run and hide under the skirts of our enemies. If he did not share sensitive information with them……..he certainly put himself in the position of having that information extracted from him. I have heard him called brave, patriotic, a hero, and a traitor. Sorry, but we might also have to consider that he might also be a bit confused…..that is my 2 cents. On a different note, those of us who always thought that nobody will remember us when we are gone, have a new vision……….our data is stored, backed up and will be there for eternity….lol.

    • Considering what happened to Bradley Manning I shudder to think what Snowden’s results would be had he presented the information in public or hidden among America’s friends. Yesterday Portugal, France and Austria showed how that would end. And yes, he is brave and a hero. Without him taking a stand, knowing this situation would be the result, we would have no say in this and unlike Orwell’s Winston Smith, have no idea that this is happening. At least Big Brother was honest about surveillance.

      History has shown that information gathered covertly can be used many different ways. Not all of them benign. I’m a very trusting person but doubt that there would not be at least one person, now or in the future, who could access our information and use it for personal gain.

      Anyway this conversation is way too serious for me. Time to make a thermos of margaritas, walk to the beach and enjoy the sunset.

  3. We would like to thank you for your view in political arena. And this is on your perspective sight among your arts, philosophies as well as challenging life views in your blog and everybody must be respected for that. We love peace, harmony and prefer not interfere to others business but on the other side, other eyes are watching us day and night. This is outrageous to human philosophies which accounts dignity as the freedom of living. You as expats come a long way to venture new life of impression of living and respect of human and I expect these might be your stand.And that goes to others too.

  4. I love my ebooks! From Orwell’s 1984:
    “Behind Winston’s back the voice from the telescreen was still babbling away about pig-iron and the overfulfilment of the Ninth Three-Year Plan. The telescreen received and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it, moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live — did live, from habit that became instinct — in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.”

    There was a time when this horrified us. Now it’s considered a patriotic duty to be constantly monitored while those really intent on causing us harm can simply use the Deep Web.

    I thank Edward Snowden. America can do better than to emulate 1980s Romania.

    • Wow! I remember reading Orwell’s 1984 in high school and I, too was horrified thinking that I would grow up in a world where my every thought and action was monitored. Big Brother is real and I don’t mean the TV reality show. ( Although, the TV reality show was based on the novel’s concept of people being under constant surveillance.) A bit of Big Brother trivia…when Big Brother, the reality TV show, began in 2000, the estate of George Orwell sued CBS for copyright and trademark infringement. The night before going to trial, CBS settled out of court and paid an undisclosed amount to the estate of George Orwell because they had not asked permission to use the name and novel’s concept.

  5. I am torn about this case because as much as I like freedom and don’t like being watched I also worry that if he has uncovered secret security workings that has been hence given to terrorists it could heap premise our security. I hate the thought of the being watched but also feel that we can’t have it both ways. There needs to be a fine line involved yet having a brother in law in national security who hears thousands upon thousands of buzz every day also makes me wonder that if we didn’t do any monitoring at all would more attacks occur? I’m not a crazy right winter and am very liberal yet I do think we need to have national security. It does concern me of the extent a which he government snoops but bothers me more about business Jo know everything! I guess I think Snowden should have handled it differently. That is my humble opinion. It will be interesting to know what happens.

    • Thanks, Nicole for your insight and your thoughtful comments. I, too have been torn by this issue with many conflicting emotions. I agree that national security is important, but where do we draw the line? It’s quite a different thing if he exposed our intelligence to enemies around the world. Then, he would be a traitor. But, as far as I know, he’s only exposed our government’s domestic secret surveillance program. And then again, not really because we’ve known about the domestic secret surveillance program since the Bush administration. Like I said in my post, I don’t want him seeking political asylum in Nicaragua. Why should the Nicaraguans suffer from an individual choice he made? You are probably right. Although he deliberated carefully on his choice to expose the deceit of the NSA, he could have handled it differently. I just don’t want him here…please…no,…it would be a disaster for this country.

      • Thanks for the response! Yes, we don’t need him going to Nicaragua! It is such a complicated topic isn’t it. We”ll have to see how it all plays out and what happens.

    • Aww…I love you, too! I don’t really have a lot of courage, but it’s an issue that I feel strongly about, especially if he seeks political asylum and is granted asylum in Nicaragua. I just can’t stand the thought of the Nicaraguan people suffering from all the consequences, such as economic sanctions, if he were granted asylum here.

      • Definitely agree, it will be hard on the country that takes him in. We’re not anti-whistle blowers , we just think he could have handled it differently than just handing all of the intelligence over to foreign countries and endangering lives of US citizens and by giving out info that could in the future harm the US. As you know John was with the FBI for twenty years (and has a doctorate in law) and feels that he did commit acts of treason. When a person has legitimate ethical objections there are legal methods to bring that matter up for review. His main objective, was to whistle blow the fact that US citizens were being illegally wire tapped,( in his opinion). He should have stopped there. He then illegally used his computer to download info on operatives and ongoing espionage in other countries, mainly China, and brought that info to China hoping for a tradeoff for asylum. As most know the USA basically stands alone, we have no inkling who our enemies are or may be in the future.

        • Mary, I want to understand both sides of this issue and your post has given me a new perspective. Thank you so much for your comments. I try to look at both sides of an issue in order to make informed decisions. I appreciate your thoughtful and knowledgeable information from ‘one who knows’ about these kind of things.

  6. Share your perspective entirely on Edward Snowden and this Alice In Wonderland world where someone who exposes deceit is a traitor while those who lead us into wars on false pretenses are heroes, or at least considered beyond legal action. But I have to also agree that Nicaragua does not deserve to again bear the heavy hand of the U.S. government in the forms you describe, and likely others. (Although it is pretty funny to think about the possibility of CIA types trying to fit in as fishermen or washwomen around the shoreland of Cocibolca!)
    Somewhere in the world there has to be a country with enough strength and courage to stand up for the rights of free speech, for the oppressed, for human rights, for those who afflict the powerful. It seems like I once remember learning in school about a country that had those principles. Where was it again?

    • Excellent and eloquent response. AND..I’m not just saying that because you agree with me. 🙂 Although, I don’t know if I would call him a hero, I don’t believe he is a traitor. I think the opinions on Snowden’s actions vary greatly and transcend political persuasions. When Snowden was asked, “What scares you the most?” he replied, “That nothing will change.” His statement haunts me. My hope is that he can… at the very least… make the government rethink about how they are unethically deceiving We the People about our rights of free speech. Don’t tread on the Fourth Amendment. Oh, by the way, I’d love to see a CIA agent disguised as a wash woman. That cracks me up!

  7. How can you decide of the wiretaps are warrantless? After visiting Nicaragua for the third time , and follower of your blog I am disappointed. I’m a democrat by the way, not a conservative and believe that what this individual has done hurts our country and causes a huge international embarrassment for all of us.

    • Ed, I am not the one deciding. The NSA warrentless surveillance program was initiated by the Bush administration. Bush made an executive order to monitor, without search warrants, phone calls, internet activity, and other forms of electronic communication inside and outside the U.S. During his administration, it was a hot button issue, and he was pressured to cease the warrantless wiretapping program in 2007. However, in 2009, the Dept. of Justice admitted that the NSA had “overcollected” domestic communications, and said, “Oops. Sorry, we overstepped our bounds.” I just don’t buy it that the NSA has stopped monitoring all forms of communication domestically and Snowden is the one who blew the whistle. You are right! It is a huge international embarrassment for all of us. I agree. But, I am still pulling for Snowden as long as he doesn’t give away any of our major secrets..if he has any. Thanks for your honest opinions. It’s a tough call, but I don’t want him in Nicaragua taking political asylum.

  8. Me, well he can sleep on my porch anytime. A big giant Middle Finger to any snoopers, or I may invite them in too, for coffee. Maybe I’m bored, but I do love David and Goliath scenarios. Was put in jail myself for protesting Nuclear Warheads in Scotland! Ahh, those were the days my friend. A CND voice, but many voices echoed and we got the damn thing out. So, bring it on! Now how can I tell him he’s invited????

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