Wednesday, August 22, 2012

New Ecuadorean Immigration Policy

Some nose tweaking required.

You may have heard of Julian Assange, international gadfly, Australian editor, activist, political talk show host, computer programmer, publisher, journalist, and spider-hole hider.

You may have heard that he is now hanging out in the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

You may think that he is trying to avoid extradition to some country or other, and this is the story that is being spread.

The truth is that Ecuador is simply trying to debug its immigration system.

For a few years now locations in Ecuador have been listed among the most desirable places to retire. But there are problems. Not with the various cities per se, but with the immigration system and residency process.

Sometimes it takes many months or even years to get residency approved.

People run in circles, going from office to office, with no noticeable result, except to frustrate themselves to distraction. Some have been sent "back home" to fetch this document or that, a signature, a notary seal or whatever, only to find, when they return to Ecuador, that they got the wrong one, or that the rules have changed in their absence.

In the past year two heads of the Ecuadorean immigration system have been fired for corruption.

Lower-to-mid-level staff have been shuffled, hired, fired, re-hired, and so on, until no one knows any more what the heck is going on. Least of all the gringo geezers who simply want a place to plunk their butts and spend some retirement checks.

This is where Assange comes in.

See, when debugging a new system, it's always best to start with the worst possible case. Because that's the one that will kick up the most problems. And not only the most obvious ones, but the subtle ones as well.

What better way to hack the new process than with a hacker sought internationally for possible sex crimes and a bit of friendly interrogation, enhancement-wise?

So here comes President Rafael Correa granting asylum to Assange, right in the middle of London for the whole world to watch. You've got police crawling all over the place, TV cameras buzzing day and night, surveillance crews going at it like crazy, and what could be a better test scenario?

So Correa condemns Britain for threatening to invade the embassy and seize Mr Assange. He calls it "intolerable".

He says his government is "open to dialog", while insisting that Britain is maintaining an "intransigent" position.

And so on and on.

Now here's the kicker.

See, Correa and his government, using new rules and tools for immigration, now have to "transmit" so to speak, Mr Assange from the U.K. to Ecuador.

If they can manage this, then shuffling any old duffer anywhere in the world over to Ecuador will be like child's play.

Mr Assange's dramatic London balcony tango was only a diversion meant to build dramatic tension. Expect another such occurrence soon, but one during which Mr Assange will vanish in a puff of smoke, possibly accompanied by a few sparks to titillate the TV audience, after which he will reappear in Quito, mere milliseconds later.

If nothing else, this could revolutionize international travel, though you might have no choice of destinations other than Ecuador.

Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, also got into the act, appearing on his own balcony flapping his arms and hyperventilating the way he does, claiming that everyone is welcome to seek asylum in his country as well, but aides managed to tie him up and drag him back inside before he hurt himself.

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