Jul 12

Press freedom in Ecuador: it’s not getting any better, but worse

http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01392/RafaelCorrea_1392296c.jpgSo far as Ecuador has had any recent coverage at all in the European media, it’s been about Julian Assange and his sudden flit to the Ecuadorean embassy in London to ask for political asylum. This may have served to distract from the latest extraordinary episode in President Rafael Correa’s war against the country’s news media (that’s the Prez above).

To judge by Google Analytics, very few of even my most faithful readers bother with my occasional posts about Ecuador. Even though I’m not an expert, I will keep recording developments when I can. It’s a living example of a truth often forgotten in the pampered, plural, media-saturated lands of Europe and America. It’s perfectly possible for progress in press freedom to be stopped and go backwards, particularly if the government concerned can be confident that few people are watching or care at all.

This is what Ecuador’s President Correa seems to believe. I’ll allow that he may have some reason to complain of his coverage. He’s one of the continent’s new group of radical presidents and the established centres of power, news media included, are not all sympathetic. But mounting a full scale assault on media freedoms with the aim of trying to insulate his government and office from scrutiny is a policy with two tiny, but nevertheless significant, weaknesses: it’s undemocratic and it won’t work.

Here’s the latest absurdity, as reported by the Global Post: a law designed to prevent news coverage having any political effect at all.


Feb 12

Ecuador’s President Correa and the press: it just goes on getting worse

I drew attention a week or two back to the unsavoury campaign of intimidation being waged by President Rafael Correa of Ecuador against journalists whose reporting and opinions he doesn’t like.

As a president with five years in post after his three predecessors were ejected without a voter ever being consulted, Correa has some success to his credit. But it seems to be going to his head. He has just won court judgements which fine two journalists a million dollars each for insulting the dignity of both the presidency and the country. The case details are laid out here. One of the journalists, Juan Carlos Calderón, described the judgement as “disproportionate, absurd and irrational”.



Jan 12

Attacking journalists in the original banana republic


President Rafael Correa

When press freedom is deteriorating in a country, there’s often one unmistakable sign of that downward slide: the use by the government of criminal defamation laws.

There have been well-aired concerns about the attempts by the Hungarian and South African governments to curtail news media. Less attention has been devoted to the steadily worsening situation in Ecuador, the country which gave the world the phrase “banana republic”. They grow a lot of bananas, do not always change governments by election and now the news media are under attack.

Coups have removed and installed presidents regularly and in 2010 there was a what Ecuador’s president Rafael Correa called an attempted coup. Correa, a politician with a sense of drama, complained that he had been held prisoner in a hospital by striking policemen and had been rescued amid rioting and fighting by the army. The exact truth of the events remains disputed.

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