PERSECUTION/ Attacks on the press
The correismo totalitarian project demands the abolishment of all opposing thoughts, ideas, initiatives or proposals. It also requires controlling public opinion and positioning the official truth to the forefront and getting the citizens should have a single point of view. That is why, to think differently in Ecuador has become a crime. Freedom of expression does not exist. There is fear and self censorship by the media while both journalists and media are persecuted for towing the Government’s party line. Editorialists, investigators, reporters, media owners, Nobel Prize winners, tweeters, cartoonists, no one is safe from government attacks or ridicule.

The correismo totalitarian project demands the abolishment of all opposing thoughts, ideas, initiatives or proposals. It also requires controlling public opinion and positioning the official truth to the forefront and getting the citizens should have a single point of view. That is why, to think differently in Ecuador has become a crime. Freedom of expression does not exist. There is fear and self censorship by the media while both journalists and media are persecuted for towing the Government’s party line. Editorialists, investigators, reporters, media owners, Nobel Prize winners, tweeters, cartoonists, no one is safe from government attacks or ridicule.

It’s a crime to monitor, dissent, protest or think differently
The "corrupt press"

The state propaganda that rules in the Correa regime implements a punitive Communications Act or "gag rule," that is imposed to create fear and self-censorship upon journalists and the media. .

Other examples of media hounding to which the Ecuadorean people are subjected to are: the weekly national Saturday morning media chains lasting four hours, constant increase in spending on official propaganda, abuse of the response segment to disrupt news, innumerable national chains for political gain and not informative generally used to degrade opponents, media or journalists. Paul Chambers an overseer, who investigated a case involving State contracts given to the President's brother, Fabricio Correa, had 16 national chains dedicated to him where he was accused of being a swindler, among other things.

The state propaganda

Correismo’s totalitarian regime intends on eliminating all private media which the President systematically calls the “corrupt press” seeking to consolidate a media monopoly set on establishing the official truth as the only truth. There are four huge pieces of evidence to demonstrate this: first, the conformation of a group of media mislabeled as “public” used solely for political service of the regime (Ecuador TV, newspapers El Telegrafo, El Ciudadano, PP El verdadero, Radio Publica, among others); second, the confiscation of the Isaias Group’s television channels (TC Television, Gamavision and CN3), that have 45% of the nation’s media coverage which is useful for state propaganda; third, the attempt to appropriate the newspaper El Universo through judicial manipulation. Correa sued the newspaper for 80 million USD while it was only worth 40 million USD; and fourth, the disappearance due to pressure from the regime of various private media (Revista Vanguardia, Diario Hoy, Radio Arutam); media which was constantly threatened by Correa and whose governmental advertising budget was either cut off or decreased due to “orders from above”.  On the waiting list of other threatened media are Radio Vision, Radio Democracia, Revista Vistazo and the private television stations Ecuavisa and Teleamazonas.

The 'press black list'

Correa seeks to impose the official truth as the only truth through systematic attacks on the press and journalists. In all of his presentations and national Saturday morning media chains he continuously attacks them with pejoratives ranging from corrupt press, equal to wild beasts, criminals, manipulators, cavemen, mafias, coup plotters and ink assassins.

The first to fall and leave their posts as a result of this government malicious avalanche, were the Ecuavisa’s Carlos Vera and Jorge Ortiz of Teleamazonas.  Paradoxically, these were journalists employed by private channels that gave Correa the most amount of air time when he was a candidate. Vera and Ortiz who were credible and influential journalists respected by the viewing public began to observe and criticize the abuse and corruption by the Correa regime. It was then that the persecution began and the journalists saw the retaliations and repercussions that ultimately obligated them to resign.

But the journalist blacklist of those not aligned with the regime, suddenly increased due to Correa’s continued lynching and berating from the media grandstands that he had created.

This was followed by the cases of Emilio Palacio, a columnist for El Universo, Patricio Vivanco of the newspaper La Hora, Alfredo Pinargote of Ecuavisa, Miguel Rivadeneira and Martin Pallares from El Comercio, Roberto Aguilar of Hoy, Janeth Hinostroza of Teleamazonas, Cesar Ricaurte from media observatory Fundamedios, Fernando Villaviencio, expert in the field of petroleum; Bonil, the cartoonist;  Juan Carlos Calderon and Christian Zurita from the magazine Vanguardia, they condemned the contracts of the President’s brother Fabricio Correa, and finally the cases of Gonzalo Rosero of Radio Democracia and Diego Oquendo of Radio Vision. The blacklist crossed the country’s borders and, not even, the Nobel Prize recipient Mario Vargas Llosa or his brother were safe from Correa’s torturous attacks.

Violence against journalists and media, promoted from the highest power

The President’s constant attacks and degradation of journalists and independent media, in addition to the adoption of the Communication Act has created a climate of hostility, fear and self-censorship which in practice results in a tacit violation of freedom of expression in Ecuador. Carlos Ochoa who heads the Superintendence of Communication, a declared enemy of the private media and unconditional defender of correismo was responsible for the sentence against cartoonist Bonil.

There are countless cases of attacks on freedom of expression, perhaps some of the most egregious are the confiscation of computers from the magazine Vanguardia and the assault against journalists and bloggers, like Carlos Andres Vera, by a correista mob. Even more offensive are the cases where there was a threat to physically harm the family of journalist Janeth Hinostroza who revealed the infamous Duzac-Delgado-Cofiec Case linked to Correa’s cousin, Pedro Delgado ,who at the time was president of the Central Bank accused of acts of corruption. The violent raid of the home of Fernando Villavicencio and the confiscation of his information;  the murder of journalist Fausto Valdiviezo who was investigating corruption in the confiscated TV channel, TC Television which has never been solved.

It’s a crime to monitor, dissent, protest, or think differently
Diario La Hora Case newspaper forced to apologize,

On November 13, 2012, Judge Marco Alban sentenced La Hora newspaper to issue a retraction for a publication that was supposedly wrong and to issue a public apology to the government of Rafael Correa.

What’s absurd is that such information was never proven to be false. La única prueba que usó el juez para sentenciar al medio de comunicación, fue un oficio de la Presidencia de la República que aseguraba que lo publicado era errado, según explicó Francisco Vivanco, principal directivo de La Hora.

The only evidence used by the court to convict the newspaper was a letter from the President of the Republic claiming that what had been published was wrong. The publication noted that the Correa government had spent $ 71 million on advertising from January to September 2012. The information had been delivered by the Citizen Participation Corporation (CPC), a non-governmental organization that for several years has spread this kind of information and even has contractual agreements with the National Electoral Council (CNE)

Carlos Vera Case, one of the first disappointed by Correa

Carlos Vera has a long journalistic career in Ecuador and has held important positions in the newscasts of the country’s major networks. He has always been a controversial, aggressive and harsh critic of the small screen.

Vera who was convinced of the proposals set forth by the presidential candidate Rafael Correa in 2006, allowed him to expose his ideas freely on his news program at Ecuavisa, one of the most watched channels of network television in Ecuador. Correa came to power and Vera continued doing his newscast; but when the journalist became disappointed with the government and began to criticize the abuse and corruption, Vera’s position was put in danger. 

In April 2009, Carlos Vera was forced to resign from Ecuavisa’s network newscast. The brave journalist from Manabi chose to sacrifice his job rather than surrender his objectivity and journalistic independence due to government pressure

Jorge Ortiz Case, a journalist who does not lower his guard

In August 2010, Jorge Ortiz was resigned from Teleamazonas newscast because of his history as a critic of the Rafael Correa’s government.

The decision was obligatorily made by the administration of the mediums of communication to sell their shares of the company due to the approval of various changes in the 2008 Constitution which prohibited people from holding shares in media as well as in other kinds of businesses. Ortiz’s resignation came about because it was known that the government would block the sale. In other words, the government wanted to stop the new owners of the channel from keeping Ortiz at his post as a critical interviewer.

However, Jorge Ortiz did not lower his guard. Currently he continues working as a journalist with all his convictions intact on the digital channel La Republica, where he continues, albeit with a smaller audience, interviewing Ecuadorian politicians with his peculiar incisive and critical style as always.

Vanguardia Magazine or extinction of investigative journalism in Ecuador

The Vanguardia magazine was perhaps the most important initiative of investigative and critical journalism that the country has ever had. In the magazine’s archives Vanguardia exposed the history of corruption in recent years in great detail with ample evidence and documentation.

Its profound investigations earned the magazine permanent attacks by successive government administrations and the Correa regime was no exception. Vanguard was raided three times. Using unsound legal arguments and weak pretexts, Pedro Delgado, chief of the UGEDEP raided the magazine’s office and confiscated computers containing all of the journalists’ information.  A similar act was suffered by Fernando Villavicencio and Clever Jimenez in 2013.

There was no lack of media lynching by Correa during his national Saturday morning media chain against the owner Francisco Vivanco, director Juan Carlos Calderon and young journalists such as Ivan Flores, who was threatened and assaulted in the street while his car was almost destroyed. During the national Saturday morning media chain Correa constantly makes speeches to incite the people against his opponents and journalists, exposing them to such violent incidents in their lives.  

Big Brother Case, persecuted for writing a book

In June 2009, the Expreso newspaper published an investigation into several contracts between the Ecuadorian government and businesses linked to Fabricio Correa, brother of President.

If in fact, the government immediately terminated the contracts, no official was ever sanctioned. The only people who were prosecuted were journalists who had investigated the case, Cristian Zurita and Juan Carlos Calderon. President Rafael Correa sued them for libel and the Ecuadorian judiciary ruled in his favor, awarding him two million dollars in damages. Shortly thereafter, Correa decided to forgive the journalists in the wake of numerous questions of public opinion made against him.

Emilio Palacio Case, sued, persecuted and asylum

Emilio Palacio is a journalist who worked for several years as a columnist for the newspaper El Universo in Guayaquil.

One of his articles was enough to trigger one of the most shameful trials in Ecuador and possibly the world: Rafael Correa versus El Universo newspaper. This journalist from Guayaquil was the author of the op-ed titled "No to Lies", where he warned that a future president opposed to Correa could sue him for crimes against humanity for the indiscriminate attack suffered by the Police Hospital during the revolt of September 30, 2010. Based on that mere presumption Correa sued the columnist and the directors of the newspaper 80 million USD. Palacio was forced to flee the country and now lives in Miami, Florida, thanks to the political asylum granted to him by the United States.

During the trial against El Universo, not only could you see the obvious judicial bias and a series of due process violations, but the gross performance of the judges too.  Judge Juan Paredes received a flash drive from Correa’s attorneys containing the opinion and ruling of the court that they had written.  The case became known as the “Chucky Seven” case. This occurred during the trial stage where Paredes ruled in favor of damages for Correa in the amount of 80 million USD; at the second stage Wilson Merino upheld the overwhelming ruling in favor of the President for 40 million USD. The true objective was to appropriate the country’s largest newspaper which was appraised at less than 40 million USD.

Fundamedios case, NGO with limited time

The Andean Foundation for Observation & Study of Media (Fundamedios) was founded in 2007 as a non-governmental organization that advocates for the freedom of expression. This citizen entity has been used as one of Correa’s favorite target practice.

Some of its special reports, including the report of 2013, reflect on the inappropriate governmental intervention by the Correa administration as it pertains to:
Assaults and attacks on independent media and the freedom of expression.
Excessive political propaganda and the manipulation of public opinion.
Mandatory national chains as well as national Saturday morning media chains containing government propaganda.
• The ambitious concentration of media and the abuse of the media for government and electoral gain.
• The media control and overwhelming state machine to silence critics.

Its Director, Cesar Ricaurte, presented in 2013 a protective action against President Correa for the issuance of Executive Order No. 16, issued for the purpose of eliminating all nonprofit organizations  like Fundamedios. If in fact, the Order represents an advance in terms of state control, it contains serious risks to freedom of association, existence and independence of citizen organizations, indispensable elements of civil society in democratic states. The protective act has not been answered to date.

Fausto Valdiviezo Case, journalist murder goes unpunished

In April 2013, the journalist Fausto Valdiviezo was murdered. He was a reputable newsman best known for his reporting on behalf of the community. He was killed outside of his mother's house where he was gunned down by alleged hit men.

His family stated that Valdiviezo was investigating corruption within the TC Television a channel pertaining to the Isaias Group that had been seized by the government of Rafael Correa. According to accounts of those who knew the journalist well, the main suspect in the murder was Carlos Coello Besseke, manager of TC Television.

Coello was a suspect in the investigation after Luz Moscoso, mother of the deceased journalist told the Prosecutor that the TC employee was involved in the crime because her son had told her so hours before his death.  Recently, an attempt was made in public to throw acid on the face of the journalist’s mother.

Janeth Hinostroza Case, anonymous threats against her family

Janeth Hinostroza ha recorrido un amplio camino en la televisión ecuatoriana, en especial en el periodismo investigativo, con programas de alta audiencia como 30 Minutos Plus el mismo que lo mantuvo al aire en la cadena Teleamazonas durante 11 años.

Janeth Hinostroza has come a long way on Ecuadorian television, especially in the field of investigative journalism with high rated programs like 30 Minutes Plus that Teleamazonas had on the air for 11 years.

In 2013, Recently, her career and courage to denounce corruption, earned her international recognition, she was awarded the International Prize for Freedom of the Press that is handed out annually by the Committee for the Protection of Journalists.

Hinostroza was one of the journalists constantly attacked by President Correa. She was subjected to punishment by the presidential guard and received numerous public insults and stigmatizing nicknames. In September 2012, this reporter had to resign from her television program, after receiving threats of physical harm against her children.  The threats were made after she had revealed information concerning governmental corruption involving the President’s cousin Pedro Delgado, his brother in law Francisco Endara and Gaston Duzac, an Argentine citizen and beneficiary of the loan who appears in a photo at the Carondelet Palace beside President Correa and a friend and college classmate of the president, Pedro Elosegui.

Home Raid Case, 20 elite cops against a family

In November 2013, the prosecutor Galo Chiriboga initiated an espionage investigation. This resulted from a complaint made by Vice President Jorge Glas, who during a national Saturday morning media chain claimed that Clever Jimenez had information that he had “hacked” from the President and other officials.

That said, a few days later, on December 23, 20 policemen from the Special Operations Group (GOE), armed with machine guns and ski masks concealing their faces, raided the home of Assemblyman Jimenez and the activist and journalist Fernando Villavicencio, advisor to Assemblyman Jimenez, confiscating all electronic devices such as cell phones, computers, tablets,  and memory drives.

This seizure was executed using the exception of "urgent action", which was issued by Judge Blum, just minutes before the seizure. This exception only applies to flagrante cases and not for an investigation like the one that was being conducted. Just hours after the raid, the President admitted that he had access to material seized, thereby, revealing that he had ordered the raid and that the chain of custody had been broken.

Villavicencio denied the charges and questioned whether or not hacking was a crime?  If so, why did the Ecuadorean Embassy grant Julian Assange, the world famous hacker, asylum in London? Till today no coherent answer has been given by the regime.

Bonil case, the crime of drawing cartoons

Jaime Bonilla (Bonil), a cartoonist with over 20 years experience has been continuously attacked by the President and his close associates. He was the first victim of the new Communications Act.

The newspaper, El Universo, published on December 28, 2013, a cartoon Bonil entitled "Police and Prosecutor raid the home of Villavicencio and take documents supporting corruption allegations." The cartoonist was referring to the raid at the home of Fernando Villavicencio, who had previously indicated that what the authorities had taken in that seizure were documents relating to corruption.

Days later, during the national Saturday morning media chain, in the segment called "the dirty trick of the week"; Correa said the text of the Bonil’s cartoon asserted as factual that the raid was conducted to "take allegations of corruption”. In just 48 hours, the Superintendent of Communications, Carlos Ochoa, intervened on the matter and later concluded that the cartoon "supported social unrest" and that the newspaper El Universo was responsible for publishing the cartoon.

This regulatory entity ordered Bonil to correct the cartoon and fined the newspaper.  The cartoonist corrected version was much funnier than the original.

Roldos Case, daughter of former president accused of being part of the CIA

In early January of this year, a publication in the government newspaper El Telegrafo, suggested that the former Assemblywoman Martha Roldos and journalists Juan Carlos Calderon and Christian Zurita, intended to destabilize the government of Rafael Correa through the creation of a news agency. According to the regime, the new news agency would be connected and funded by extreme right-wing organizations in the United States.

Government supporters quickly concluded that Roldos, Calderon and Zurita were undercover agents for the CIA in Ecuador, which led to their stigmatization through social networks. Martha Roldos responded, “It’s a terrible infamy that they call me an ally of my father’s assassins”.

The main instigator behind this was President Rafael Correa himself, who in his national Saturday morning broadcast said these people were trying to conspire against his administration.

The worst part of all this was that the State run newspaper El Telegrafo had based its research on documents obtained fraudulently from emails of the alleged conspirators which means that the regime or its newspaper “hacked” into the accounts of Martha Roldos and of her colleagues.  No one was sanctioned and the accusation of media lynching filed against the newspaper El Telegrafo by Martha Roldos before the Superintendent of Communications, was as could be expected filed away.

Carlos Andres Vera Case. Threats made to his three year old son

This filmmaker and blogger, like his father Carlos Vera Rodriguez, has been a constant critic of the Correa regime. The President, in turn, occasionally insults the blogger during his national Saturday morning media chain.

In a public demonstration while filming a political event he was attacked by a correista mob. Carlos Andres Vera kept a blog exposing his ideas and videos.

After receiving threats to harm his 3 year old son, this Regime critic was forced to distance himself from the debates occurring on the social networks. According to him, everything started with a comment issued through the social network Twitter, where Vera criticized the President for allusions made about political opponents. The filmmaker received hundreds of insults, but he also received specific information and photographs of one of his sons, along with threats to harm the boy.

Alfredo Pinargote Cevallos case, systematically lynched  

Pinargote is a longtime editorialist, extremely critical, and his opinions carry a lot of weight. He directs the morning news show Contacto Directo on the private channel Ecuavisa.

Almost every Saturday the President, in his usual televised broadcasts, insults him and presents him as the emblem of the "corrupt press" or mercantilist, term coined by correismo to insult the private, independent press, that is not aligned with the regime.

In January 2014, this reporter received complaints from regime Assemblywoman Alexandra Ocles, who accused him of having made comments against the Afro-Ecuadorian community. However, Ocles never made any complaint whatsoever when President Rafael Correa said during national Saturday morning chain, before the entire country, that “he did not know whether women had helped improve democracy, but at least they had helped improve the partying”. These statements were made in January 2012. Pinoargote was forced to apologize during his program stating that it was based on a poem by the African American Nelson Estupinan Bass.

Diego Oquendo Case. They don’t even respect his gray hair.

He is perhaps the most experienced journalist in the country and has left his mark in television, radio and print media.  He is constantly insulted by President Rafael Correa who has dedicated several hundreds of adjectives to him during his Saturday morning chains.

Similarly, in July 2011, the attorneys Gutenberg and Alembert Vera (father and son) announced their intention to sue the journalist for an opinion he had published, but the threat never materialized. However, it has become clear to the country that Diego Oquendo is not a government critic, but he is not complacent with it and when he is critical it is done with coherence and responsibility.

Oquendo es uno de los pocos periodistas independientes que continúan haciendo con profesionalismo su trabajo, a pesar de estar constantemente en la mira del gobierno. Oquendo is one of the few independent journalists continuing to do his job professionally, despite being a constant target of the government.

Mario Vargas Llosa Case, insulting a Nobel laureate

Mario Vargas Llosa, the Peruvian author, intellectual and Nobel laureate is not immune from Correa’s venomous reproach. In November 2012, the world watched in awe as Rafael Correa displayed his arrogance and vanity as he insulted the Nobel Laureate for Literature, Mario Vargas Llosa.

The Peruvian author’s grave mistake was to ask the Ecuadorians to defend their civil liberties "with all democratic weapons" available to them. Correa's response was to say that he was accustomed to "listening to Vargas Llosa’s nonsense" and that he was a "renegade" that defended private interests over those of the people.

VIDEO:Summary of President Correa’s attacks on the independent press of Ecuador. Source: Ecuavisa
The limitations placed upon journalists doing their job in Ecuador
VIDEO: Attacks on the press
President Rafael Correa as he berates the Ecuadorean press
VIDEO: Salvador Quispe faces Carlos Ochoa
He questions his $8,000 salary paid with public money
Video: Aggression on blogger
A correista mob attacks blogger Carlos Andres Vera.
VIDEO: The President’s insults
Mauricio Rodas presents a compilation of Correa’s 170 insults
VIDEO: Vanguardia magazine raided
Pedro Delgado of the UGEDEP raided Vanguardia and took their computers
VIDEO: Mega-salaries at TC
Assassinated by hit men.
VIDEO: Threats against Janeth Hinostroza
Teleamazonas newscaster resigns after being threatened after denouncing corruption
VIDEO: Canela Radio Station Case
Governmental attack to take over popular radio station
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