July 25, 2024

Press Freedom


OPC Condemns Ecuador’s Media Crackdown

Reply received March 26, 2012, scroll to the bottom to read a PDF of the letters from the Ecuadorian government.

H.E. Rafael Correa
Constitutional President
Palacio de Carondelet
Republic of Ecuador
Fax: (011.593.2) 58.07.35

Your Excellency:

While we appreciate and support your pardon last week of the journalists accused in the cases of El Universo and El Gran Hermano, we can not help but remain concerned for the future of press freedom and freedom of speech in Ecuador.  Your policies underscore your country’s deteriorating ranking as a defender of press freedom.

These cases show us that anyone “offending your honor” remains subject to potential criminal charges, including imprisonment and hefty fines.  Despite your official pardon and voiding of the fines against the brothers, Carlos, César and Nicolás Perez, Emilio Palacio, Christian Zurita and Juan Carlos Calderón, the cases should never have been brought to the court in the first place.  The very fact that libel is still a crime in Ecuador is an offense to freedom, and your pattern of pushing critical journalists into these costly and distracting legal battles over defamation, libel, and slander continues to be a threat to freedom of speech throughout your country.

Your pardoning of these men should be the first step of many to promote freedom of speech and press in Ecuador.  However, it seems that you granted the pardons only after being pressed by other governments and various human rights and press freedom groups.  While you did pardon these particular journalists, the sense of foreboding remains for others who may criticize and offend your “honor” in the future.  Surely, this is not an environment that will foster accurate and effective reporting.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), after extensive research on your administration, has concluded that you have led your country into an era of repression with your continual filing of defamation lawsuits and muffling of critics.  Your Excellency, we urge you to re-consider and reform your policies on freedom of speech and freedom of the press to create a truly democratic state that embraces free speech and a free media.

The Overseas Press Club of America, an independent organization that has protected global press freedom for more than 70 years, is concerned not only for your journalists, but for your people and for democracy in your state.  If Ecuador lacks freedom of press and speech, it can hardly be called a democracy at all.

Respectfully yours,
Rixey Browning                                                                                             
Larry Martz
Freedom of the Press Committee


H.E. Nathalie Cely-Suarez
Ambassador of Ecuador to the USA
Embassy of the Republic of Ecuador
1050 Fifteenth Street, NW
Washington, DC  20007

Ambassador Francisco Carreón-Mena
Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of the Republic of Ecuador to the United Nations
866 United Nations Plaza
New York, NY  10017
Fax: (212) 935.1835

Timothy Zúñiga-Brown
Chargé d’Affaires
Embassy of the United States of America
Av. Avigiras E12-170 y Av. Aloy Alfaro

H.E. Jaime Guerrero-Ruíz
Ministro de Telecomunicaciones e Información
Ave. 6 de Diciembre N25-75 y Colón
Republic of Ecuador

H.E. Fernando Alvarado
Secretario Nacional de Comunicación
Palacio de Carondelet
Republic of Ecuador

Sr. Arturo Aguirre

Sr. Jaime Mantilla A.

El Universo

Maria Otero
Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC  20520