• Still, there's some economic connection. Exports and imports between the United States and Bolivia totaled more than $2.4 billion last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
• Despite Morales' fierce criticism of European countries and the United States after the plane incident, Shifter said, it's unclear whether he really wants Snowden to come to Bolivia.
President Daniel Ortega says his country will grant asylum to Snowden "if circumstances permit." Was that a way to sound supportive, but give himself a way out? It's unclear.
• Like Maduro and Morales, Ortega is a vocal critic of the United States, and his allegations of U.S. imperialism play well with his supporters.
• Business is big for Ortega's government, and it's about to get a lot bigger. Chinese investors and Nicaraguan leaders have just signed a deal to build a $40 billion canal through the country. Does that mean Nicaragua is now looking East but not West when it comes to business? Quite the opposite, Shifter said. "I think the canal project is another factor that makes them even more interested in staying on the good side of the United States," he said.
• That's not all. Exports and imports between the United States and Nicaragua totaled more than $3.8 billion last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And Nicaragua gets trade preferences from the United States. As concerns about Snowden from business leaders mount, they won't fall on deaf ears with Ortega, Shifter said. "Ortega has good relations with the business community in Nicaragua. He's somebody that I think also has a pragmatic streak in him," Shifter said. "Rhetorically, at times, he's confrontational, but behind the scenes, he's making deals."
Snowden set his sights on Ecuador with his first asylum request after leaving Hong Kong on June 23. President Rafael Correa railed against the United States in fiery speeches over the issue earlier this month. But the government has said it's still weighing the request, but can't act until Snowden's in Ecuadorian territory. Some speculate that the delay in getting a clear response from Ecuador is what inspired Snowden to apply for asylum in dozens more countries.
• Ecuador granted asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange last year, and has touted the decision as a clear sign that the South American nation is a defender of human rights. Giving Snowden asylum would give officials another platform to make that case.
• Defiant authorities in Ecuador said last month that they wouldn't bow to U.S. pressure in Snowden's case, vowing to reject trade benefits so U.S. officials couldn't manipulate them.
• When Ecuadorian officials said they didn't need U.S. trade preferences, business leaders issued a swift response: Not so fast.
And with about half of Ecuador's exports heading to the United States and trade between the two nations totaling more than $16 billion last year, Correa probably will weigh their comments carefully, Shifter said. "Correa is a guy who on the one hand, he's very defiant of the United States and wants to be the rhetorical leader of the left in Latin America," Shifter said. "On the other hand, he's got a very broad coalition in Ecuador and is trying to be more pragmatic and attract foreign investment."
• After speaking with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden last month, Correa adopted a more measured tone. "We have to act very carefully but with courage," he said, "without contradicting our principles but with a lot of care, responsibility and respect, of course, towards the U.S. but also respect for the truth."
President Raul Castro hasn't shied away from talking about the Snowden case. He's hailed the former National Security Agency contractor's revelations and stressed that he supports fellow Latin American countries' right to grant Snowden asylum. But there are two key things he hasn't said: whether Cuba will grant asylum to Snowden and whether he'd allow a plane carrying the U.S. intelligence leaker to make a stopover in Cuba on the way to South America.
• Decades of hostile relations between the United States and Cuba and a tough economic embargo could mean that Cuba would have less to lose than other Latin American nations when it comes to granting asylum. With so many sanctions in place, said Philip Peters, president of the Cuba Research Center in Washington, "I don't know what more the United States could add."
• Official media in Cuba have painted Snowden as a hero. Cuba could decide to step in, Shifter said, "if there's an issue where it would have to do with Latin American pride and dignity and sovereignty."
• While granting Snowden asylum might be a step too far, letting a connecting flight carrying him land in Cuba might be an option. "I think there's a measure of risk in that for Cuba, but it may be OK if he doesn't stay there, if they're facilitating it as a transit stop," Shifter said. "But I think it would make them uneasy."