Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. took the unusual step of telephoning PresidentRafael Correa of Ecuador to urge him not to give asylum to Mr. Snowden. Senior State Department officials have also pushed Venezuela, one of the three countries offering to shelter him, with both sides keenly aware that hopes for better ties and an exchange of ambassadors after years of tension could be on the line.
And all across the region, American embassies have communicated Washington’s message that letting Mr. Snowden into Latin America, even if he shows up unexpectedly, would have lasting consequences.
“There is not a country in the hemisphere whose government does not understand our position at this point,” a senior State Department official focusing on the matter said recently, adding that helping Mr. Snowden “would put relations in a very bad place for a long time to come.”
“If someone thinks things would go away, it won’t be the case,” the official said.
But Washington is finding that its leverage in Latin America is limited just when it needs it most, a reflection of how a region that was once a broad zone of American power has become increasingly confident in its ability to act independently. The United States is conducting a diplomatic full-court press to try to block Edward J. Snowden from finding refuge in Latin America....