Peter Kornbluh writes: On June 19, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange slipped into the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, seeking sanctuary and asylum from extradition to Sweden for questioning on alleged sexual misconduct. If and when the government of Rafael Correa grants his request—a decision that had yet to be made as The Nation went to press — Assange will become a resident of Latin America, where the trove of US State Department cables he strategically disseminated has generated hundreds of headlines, from Mexico to the Southern Cone.
“Cablegate,” as the revelations have come to be known, has had a different degree of impact in each Latin American nation — on politics, the media, and the public debate over transparency and government accountability. In two countries it led to the forced departure of the US ambassador; in another it helped change the course of a presidential election. In some countries, the documents revealed the level of US influence in domestic affairs; in others they detailed criminal activities and corruption within a number of host governments. In many nations, the cables disclosed the parade of local political, cultural and even media elites who lined up to divulge information — or gossip — to US Embassy officers, never suspecting that their discussions would become front-page news.
Collectively, the Americas have been treated to a mega– civics lesson in globalized whistleblowing. And US citizens have also peered into the foreign policy abyss of our bilateral and regional ties. A year after the diplomatic dust has settled on the WikiLeaks phenomenon in Latin America, it seems appropriate to assess — drawing attention to the experiences of Brazil, Mexico and Colombia — what the biggest leak of US documents in history has left in its wake. [Continue reading…]