the support of other welcome guests in Algiers -- notably the North Korean
diplomatic corps and representatives of the Vietcong, the latter of whom gave
him a villa they owned in the tony El Biar neighborhood. These allies helped
Cleaver liaise with the Algerian authorities. Cleaver returned the favor to
both: He broadcast virulently anti-American messages to American GIs in Vietnam,
urging them to frag their commanding officers, and he wrote the foreword to the
English-language translation of Kim il-Sung's Juche.
Snowden's libertarian politics don't dovetail naturally with the leftism espoused by Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa -- nor perhaps his government's assault on free speech -- but he still should find some sympathetic souls on Quito's cocktail-party circuit. He'll need to tap those contacts to handle some very pragmatic issues, such as figuring out a long-term housing situation and, more important, how to ensure his personal security in a nation with a high crime rate.
Make money. Staying on the lam is always more expensive than one might anticipate, especially when a mammoth entity like the United States is doing all it can to shut down your potential sources of income. The root cause of the Black Panthers' demise in Algeria was poverty -- the United States froze Cleaver's royalties from "Soul on Ice" in accordance with the Trading With the Enemy Act, thereby forcing him to look to hijackers for a cash influx. Washington claimed that Cleaver had forfeited his American citizenship by visiting North Vietnam and North Korea in 1970. Snowden will have plenty of expenses while in Ecuador, both legal and personal, and the Correa regime probably won't want to pick up the tab for all eternity. Crowdsourced donations sound like a fine way to keep things going, but the WikiLeaks experience is not encouraging; last year, the organization attracted just $68,000 in handouts, barely enough to keep its servers running. Sure, Snowden could always settle for a run-of-the-mill IT job with some Quito firm to make ends meet. But who can honestly see that happening?
But there are always ways to route money to those in need. Snowden's wealthiest and most avid supporters should start thinking now about ways they can slip cash into his pockets without attracting the ire of the American government. Bitcoins could sure come in handy here.
Do something fulfilling. Boredom and loneliness can be vexing foes, particularly for an intelligent 29-year-old keen to leave his mark on history. Plenty of the folks who hijacked planes to Cuba in the late 1960s and early 1970s can attest to this dilemma: Many of the ones who settled down into normal lives in Havana, sometimes complete with spouses and children, eventually decided to return to the United States, often because they had tired of their drab proletarian existences. Can you really picture Snowden being content with a 9-to-5 gig in Ecuador? He obviously has a grander future in mind for himself.
Perhaps Snowden should follow the lead of a few notorious American fugitives who found some measure of contentment by transforming themselves into do-gooders. excellent examples of this path are Melvin and Jean McNair, a couple who helped hijack Delta Airlines Flight 841 to Algiers in July 1972; they now operate an orphanage in Caen, France. And the Black Panther Pete O'Neal, another veteran of Algiers who fled a federal gun charge, wound up running a shelter for homeless children in Tanzania.
So what selfless occupation could Snowden take up to create meaning in his life? How about teaching free programming classes in a barrio periferico?
Brendan Koerner is the author of "The Skies Belong to Us: Love and Terror in the Golden Age of Hijacking."
[copyright] 2013 Columbia Daily Tribune . All rights reserved.
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