Ecuador, it seems, is fast becoming the favored haven of the world's most notorious intelligence leakers. Will global investors find the route to Quito as attractive as Julian Assange and Edward Snowden apparently do?

Five years after he called international debt holders "true monsters" and the nation defaulted on two bonds issued by previous administrations, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa is preparing for the country to return to the international capital markets this year or early in 2014.

Correa, who in February secured a third term with a crushing congressional majority, has financed the social programs and public investment that underpin his popularity through oil windfalls and bilateral funding arrangements, most notably with the Chinese. Ecuador is home to South America's third-largest crude reserves, but a drop in oil prices and a slowdown in China have Correa hunting for alternatives to sustain government spending, which amounts to almost 45 percent of gross domestic product.

Bolivia recently issued a ten-year bond at a yield of less than 5 percent. Suddenly, even for the most stridently anticapitalist regimes of Latin America, international debt is an appealing financing avenue. Hence Correa's careful presentation of a new, more private-sector-friendly face: On a May trip to the European Union, the president declared that he now views private enterprise as the primary engine of economic development, and since his reelection he's repeatedly affirmed his government's commitment to attracting more foreign investment. Nathalie Cely, Ecuador's ambassador to the U.S. and a longtime member of Correa's inner circle of advisers, says, "There is no irony" or "double speech" in this charm offensive, despite the government's extraordinary selective default on $3.5 billion of debt in 2008.

"We feel there's enough of an appetite out there" for the country's debt, she adds. Cely says the government has yet to decide the size or tenor of any bond offering, but she asserts that several banks, including Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs Group, have expressed an interest in managing the issue. (Both banks declined to comment.)

"It takes more than a few notes to compose a symphony, and at present most investors are still in no mood to listen," contends Shahriar Shahida, CIO of New  York–based hedge fund Constellation Capital Management. But markets have short memories, says James Harper, director of corporate research at BCP Securities, a Greenwich, Connecticut–based investment bank focused on emerging markets: "Fund managers rotate; new money comes in; attitudes change."