Last September, the United States rejected Bolivia’s 2008 petition to extradite former president Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada – “Goni” – to face charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. It would, however, be an error to compare Bolivia’s request for extradition with Washington’s, even if we were to suppose that the cases have comparable merit.
The reason was provided by St. Augustine in his tale about the pirate asked by Alexander the Great, “How dare you molest the sea?” The pirate replied, “How dare you molest the whole world? Because I do it with a little ship only, I am called a thief; you, doing it with a great navy, are called an Emperor.”
St. Augustine calls the pirate’s answer “elegant and excellent.” But the ancient philosopher, a bishop in Roman Africa, is only a voice from the global South, easily dismissed. Modern sophisticates comprehend that the Emperor has rights that little folk like Bolivians cannot aspire to.