Julian Assange, “The World Tomorrow (Episode 6: Rafael Correa)” (Russia Today, 22 May 2012)
Halfway through the series, Assange must have read my mind telepathically as his interview subject for Episode 6 is President Rafael Correa of Ecuador and the general theme of the interview is Ecuador as a microcosm of Latin America in its struggle to bring democracy and social justice to its citizens and throw off domination by its own political and economic elites and by the West (predominantly the United States). Correa is an enthusiastic and passionate interviewee who fervently believes in his cause and destiny as the focus for his people’s desire for change and improvement. He is sympathetic to Assange’s plight – at the time, Assange had already spent 500 days under house arrest – and among other things the two discuss Wikileaks’ role in exposing the Ecuadorian mainstream media as complicit in aiding the country’s elites in concentrating and maintaining power and what remedies to undertake to ensure that the Ecuadorian media serves the people instead of a select privileged few. Inevitably Assange and Correa also dissect Ecuador’s relationship with the United States, how the United States has treated Ecuador (and by implication the rest of Latin America) and what the Obama government should be doing to address and satisfy the American people’s demands for democracy and social justice as expressed by the Occupy movements.
As with previous episodes, the episode seen on Youtube.com shows only excerpts of the interview; a full transcript in English and Spanish can be seen at this link. There is far more interesting information in the transcript about a near-coup in September 2010 that could have threatened Correa’s life and how this coup links to a far more serious problem about the role of the media and journalists in maintaining a corrupt political, social and economic order in Ecuador. Correa expounds at some length about how Ecuador’s mainstream media, largely private and controlled by large corporations and banks, has resisted calls for democracy, the rule of law and social justice, and has allowed its owners to hold the country’s major political, legal and economic institutions to ransom. Journalists have acted as shock troops leading the charge in the repression of people’s rights and freedoms. This news comes as something of a shock to Assange and me though really when I consider the state of the news media in Australia and in other Anglophone countries, this should be no surprise at all: the news media in Australia has consistently supported large private interests and encouraged the general public to support politically conservative parties. Is it any surprise that Australia’s early 20th-century reputation as a socially progressive country quickly faded away? Assange suggests to Correa that the solution is for his government to break up the media monopolies and cartels and to ease market barriers of entry to allow small publishers and individuals to make themselves heard without fear of penalty; Correa replies that Ecuador is already discussing a new law regulating its media to enable public government and community organisations to launch radio and TV stations to compete with private broadcasting interests.
An important topic discussed is leadership which Correa defines as the capacity to influence others and to be the focus for change and people’s aspirations for a better life and for justice. Interestingly Correa sees his leadership role as serving his people in fighting poverty and injustice. Assange and Correa discuss US President Barack Obama with respect to his leadership so far of the United States and his ability (or not) to respond to the American people’s demands as expressed through the Occupy Wall Street movement.
The interview ends on a positive note and a little joke as Assange warns Correa against assassination. In its truncated version, this is a highly informative and very revealing interview, and definitely one of the better episodes in this series.