PERSECUTION / Other cases

Judicial Persecution in Ecuador

The common denominator for persecution in Ecuador is the use of a submissive judicial power that answers to the Correa regime, one that has no qualms about violating laws, rights such as due process, and even the Constitution, because they feel protected by the correista regime. There is a long list of diverse individuals encompassing those persecuted by the Correa regime such as journalists, indigenous, military, mayors, students, teachers, artists, assembly members, activists and cartoonists. Anyone who dissents or is considered to be threat to the interests of the regime is in danger.

It is a crime is to monitor, dissent, protest, or think differently
Colonel Carrion Case, imprisoned by presidential order

Colonel Cesar Carrion is the Director of the Police Hospital. On the afternoon of September 30, while the President was there visiting a police riot broke out which carried on into the evening hours. The Colonel was later interviewed by the international television channel, CNN, and spoke about the condition of the President assuring them that only medical personnel and the president’s security detail was on the third floor.

These statements angered Correa , who during his Saturday morning broadcast chain, ordered judges and prosecutors to act. Referring quite bitterly to Colonel Carrion he said:
"He is the one who said that the President had never been kidnapped, he was on CNN. You dumb fool. You are my subordinate and you cannot be looking out for your interests and your personal hatreds, trying to make your boss look like a liar”.

He then accused him of conspiracy and radically ordered them to:
"Remove this gentleman immediately from the Police Hospital, from the National Police and talk to the Attorney General, because this man is part of the conspiracy”.

Colonel Carrion was jailed and tried immediately. Several national media chains were “dedicated” to him making him appear guilty. He served 116 days in prison, after which he was absolved and reinstated to the police ranks.

Glass Door Case, prosecuted for ordering free speech

During the revolt of September 30, 2010, President Correa declared a state of emergency and ordered all independent television programming to cease, forcing them to air the indefinite national broadcasts of the government channel, Ecuador TV, in a clear act of censorship.

That afternoon, a group of citizens went to the offices of Ecuador TV to demand freedom of the press and expression. As they entered the premises damages occurred in the reception area of the channel valued at $4,500. Once inside, there were no acts of aggression, nor was there any violence as evidenced by the case file. 13 people were involved, 6 of whom had to flee the country. They were charged with sabotage and terrorism, an offense carrying a sentence of 8-12 years of imprisonment.

The defense counsel for the accused explained during the case that the correct thing to do would be to refer to article 606 No. 19 of the Penal Code. It calls for 2 to 4 days of imprisonment for those who cause harm or damage to public service offices. However, they were sentenced to eight years in prison. Some defendants in this case had to leave the country. The Czech Republic granted political asylum to two of them, the brothers Jose Luis and Pablo Guerrero.

Fidel Araujo Case, tried twice for the same offense

Three years after being found not guilty, the retired Army Major Fidel Araujo was brought to trial again for identical charges without any additional information or evidence by the Correista judiciary, only, this time he was found guilty of inciting rebellion.

He was sentenced to three years in prison. In reality his only crime was to be present in the vicinity of Quito Regiment, during the revolt of September 30, 2010. Throughout the trial it could not be proven that Araujo had any contact with those who organized the revolt, but, he was still convicted.

The main evidence used against him were statements he made to the television channel Ecuavisa, which never aired, because on that day the media was forced to air the programming of the State channel Ecuador TV. As in all other cases related to the rebellion of September 30, 2010, it was the Minister Jose Serrano who served as prosecutor. Araujo's case was manipulated judicially so that the regime justify that there had been an attempted coup against Rafael Correa, even though Correa had gone to the Quito Regiment to instigate the rebelling police on the day in question.

Mery Zamora case, 8 years in prison for parading with students

Mery Zamora was an assemblywoman for the opposition party, Popular Democratic Movement, MDP, a teacher and President of the National Teachers Union (UNE), a major union that Rafael Correa has systematically attacks even though it was one of his allies at the beginning of his administration.

Zamora was accused of sabotage and terrorism for allegedly entering the Aguirre Abad School (Guayaquil) to round up and encourage students to participate in protests against the government, during the rebellion of September 30, 2010. Three years later she was found guilty and was sentenced to 8 years in prison. Her lawyers claimed that at a prior hearing the case had been dismissed because no crime had been committed. In spite of that, the case was later reopened due to public statements made by Correa, in which he rejected the dismissal. Zamora's lawyers argue that no prosecutorial evidence was introduced during the case and that the defendant was not allowed to exercise an effective line of defense.

On May 27, 2014, the criminal court of the National Court of Justice presided by Johnny Ayluardo along with justices Mariana Yumbay and Ximena Vintimilla accepted the appeal filed by Zamora’s defense and found her not guilty. Correa quickly declared publicly that there must be an error in that ruling. After dismissing the case that convicted the teacher and former legislator to eight years in prison for the crime of sabotage and terrorism, Johnny Ayluardo, judge of the criminal court of the National Court of Justice (CNJ) received notice from the Judicature Council that he was being investigated for the issuance of that sentence.

Two weeks after Zamora was found not guilty, a Commission investigating the facts of September 30th, created by the government with members tied to the regime, presented a report concluding that there was a “soft” coup and an attempt to destabilize the government where Mery Zamora, other citizens and political actors were once again implicated. It is obvious that the intention of this report is to continue the persecution of Zamora utilizing the prosecution that has already demonstrated total submissiveness to the regime.

Pablo Chambers, the overseer who made the mistake of speaking the truth

At the beginning of the Correista regime, newspapers and an investigation spearheaded by the journalists Juan Carlos Calderon and Christian Zurita revealed that the President’s older brother, Fabricio Correa, had contracts with the Government. The journalists had so much information that they published a book titled “The Big Brother” where they confirmed that the President had knowledge of these contracts. Rafael Correa was infuriated and threatened the journalists with prosecution. Afterwards, to appear democratic, free of guilt and so that they would agree with him, he promoted a citizens oversight commission to investigate the case and determine whether he knew about the contracts, if there was a State loss, illegalities and favoritism.

The contracts were estimated at 80 million USD. However, Pablo Chambers, one of the commission members had received through State entities contracts valued at 1.3 billion USD. In certified documents alone, the commission verified contracts valued at 657 million USD and confirmed that the President did know about his brother’s contracts that contained illegalities and losses to the State.

This unleashed threats and pressures against the commission. Their work was boycotted, but, afterwards in order to keep them quiet they were offered benefits and public offices. At first since Chambers resisted, the government began attacking him personally and dedicated 16 national television chains declaring him to be a swindler. Next, Chambers and two other commission members who stood firm were prosecuted for false testimony while the others resigned after obtaining bureaucratic posts.

Chambers and his two colleagues filed complaints about anonymous threats, a ferocious judicial persecution and assert that the State blocks them from contracts and the private sector won’t hire them because they fear government retaliation. They are unemployed and have knocked on the doors of more than a dozen embassies seeking asylum. The judicial persecution against them continues to grow and their future is uncertain.

Case of the 10 youngsters from Luluncoto violation of rights and due process.

On March 3, 2012, in a violent show of elite police forces, ten youngsters were detained in Luluncoto, a neighborhood south of Quito. Human rights were violated and even a pregnant woman was arrested.

After a year of incarceration without being sentenced, just as the detainees were about to be released, the Ecuadorean judiciary sentenced then to a year in prison. There were several irregularities throughout the case. It was shown that the prosecution presented forged documents to inculpate the defendants and the charging document written by the prosecutor was effectively changed leaving the accused defenseless.

The detention of the ten youngsters occurred on the eve of the beginning of a series of demonstrations against the government, resulting from the imminent adoption of the Water Act. One of the allegations against them was that they belonged to the Popular Combatants Group (GCP) which was supposedly responsible for placing pamphleteering bombs three months earlier. Notwithstanding, during the course of investigations, it was shown that while these bombs did in fact exist, another rebel group, which had nothing to do with the GCP, had claimed responsibility for setting them off.

Central Tecnico Case, cruelty of power against 12 youngsters

In February 2013, about 70 mostly underage students from the Central Tecnico, a school in Quito, protested against the adoption of a law involving the possible demise of their educational institution. Tires were burnt and there was other disorderly conduct during the showdown with the police.

However, the Government felt that there had been twelve students of legal age that had participated in these acts that should be treated as a serious offense against public administration and of the State institution.

They were accused of rebellion and finally sentenced to 21 days in prison with various judicial irregularities along the way and the interference of the Executive pressuring the judges:
con la fuerza pública.

• At first the charges were dismissed for lack of evidence, but after a Saturday morning media chain by President Correa criticizing the dismissal, the prosecutors overturned the dismissal.
• Parents of students and their defense counselors were intimidated by Correa during his Saturday broadcast and by other public statements he had made.
• Students were incarcerated for a period exceeding that established by law for that particular crime.

Case criminalization of social protest

In July 2012 Amnesty International issued a report based on an investigation conducted in Ecuador regarding the use of detention, deprivation of liberty and the filing of unsubstantiated charges against indigenous protesters and farmers from 2009 through 2011.

The investigation was based on court records, correspondence with Government officials, interviews with representatives of Ecuadorian NGO’s, lawyers, and the members and leaders of indigenous and peasant organizations during the delegation’s visit to Quito and Cuenca. They also met with officials from the Ministry of Justice, Human Rights and Religious Affairs and the Ministry of Interior. The report concluded that when the indigenous people and farmers protested asserting their rights to be consulted and give consent to laws, policies and practices that affect them the government responded with litigation. Additionally, questioning the legitimacy of the protests, limiting the right to freedom of expression and assembly of some sectors.

In response, Amnesty International’s recommendation to the Ecuadorean State was to eliminate the criminal sentences imposed upon the indigenous and farmers who protest since they cannot be crimes as such because they are part of the legitimate exercise of human rights related to freedom of expression and social protest. The report went on to suggest that the government needed to ensure that any law, policy or potential measure that affects the communities be the subject of a consultation process with the affected communities before any decision is taken and to establish clear and fair mechanisms to carry out consultations in good faith with affected communities including a mechanism to monitor implementation and report grievances. The recommendations were never adopted nor implemented.

General Gabela Case. Murdered for opposing an act of corruption?

General Jorge Gabela Bueno was critical of the Government’s purchase of the Dhruv helicopters because he thought that they did not meet the required security standards and they created a serious risk to the pilots who were going to fly them.

The general personally conveyed his concern to President Correa and then complained before the National Assembly that he was being persecuted for opposing the purchase of the Dhruv. Gabela said the purchase of five Dhruv helicopters would be detrimental to the interests of the Ecuadorian state, but, his objections were ignored and they were purchased anyway.

In December 2010, in the city of Guayaquil, General Jorge Gabela was shot in the doorway of his home. He agonized for ten days before dying. The motive for the crime was never determined, but Patricia Ochoa, the widow and the victim’s family have always maintained that it had been a contract killing that they linked to the Armed Forces and Raphael Correa’s political circle in order to silence the General. The passage of time has proved that Gabela was right. Two of the five aircrafts crashed to the ground in the most unusual manner and only two remain in use.

Carolina Llanos case, the crime of being the live in girlfriend of an opposition member

Carolina Llanos, live in girlfriend of Assemblyman Galo Lara, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the alleged involvement in the murder of a family in an incident that took place in Quinsaloma, Manabi, in August 2011.

The evidence used by the prosecution in this case was the testimony of Alex Cedeno Molina, a convicted hit man who was sentenced to 16-years for murder and who had been released only two days before testifying against Llanos and Galo Lara. According to this dubious witness, he had heard from another party, that Lara and Llanos were the masterminds behind the murder of Quinsaloma.

The judges in the case who were under constant pressure from President Rafael Correa, initially convicted Llanos and acquitted Lara, however, Lara was later convicted in the appellate phase. In September 2013, Lara was granted political asylum in Panama by Ricardo Martinelli’s government given the obvious political persecution, meanwhile, Llanos was tortured in prison by guards causing her to miscarriage.

The new President of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, an outright admirer of Nicolas Maduro, revoked the asylum granted to the former legislator on May 19, 2014, stating that he was not a victim of political persecution. At the beginning of 2014, the Supreme Court of Panama ordered the arrest of Galo Lara who was arrested for his expeditious extradition to Ecuadorean soil.

Children of the PRE Case

In August 2012 a heated controversy arose when the Ministry of Social Welfare sued Gabriela Pazmino and Abdala Bucaram Pulley, who was the leader of the Ecuadorean Roldos Party, PRE, for allegedly using the image of their children for political gain. This suit implied taking the children away from their parents and turning them over to the State alleging that the parents unable to care for them.

The case originated when Bucaram during a press report, showed several photos of his wife Gabriela with their children and President Rafael Correa, to demonstrate how well they had gotten along in the past. The case exposed the arrogance of the Ecuadorian government, which was willing to cause irreparable harm by taking the children away from their parents simply because they were political opponents. The complaint of the Ministry never went anywhere due to strong societal criticism and the mother’s desperate pleas which were plastered all over the media.

The correista assemblywoman at the time, Rosana Alvarado, a lawyer, social journalist and feminist, referred to this incident in a derogatory manner stating "we would not know what to do with the children of the PRE", referring to Bucaram’s children. The comment was found to be in bad taste not only by the public but, also by people close to the regime as well.

Jaime Guevara Case: vilified with the full weight of the governing party

Jaime "the kid" Guevara, is a beloved urban songwriter, especially popular in the city of Quito, in the artistic part of town. In September 2013, Guevara was physically and verbally assaulted by President Rafael Correa and his security detail. Supposedly Guevara had made a sign of disapproval as the president's motorcade passed before him.

To justify the assault, Correa said in his Saturday morning chain that the known troubadour from Quito had been drunk and on drugs when he made the offensive gesture and Corrrea ironically added that he "had a drugstore on him."

What the Head of State did not know is that Guevara was born with epilepsy that prevented him from indulging in any illegal drugs throughout his life. Several activists attested to the fact that Guevara was a teetotaler and a vegetarian, among them the father of the late Restrepo brothers. Correa, displaying his abusive nature, did not recognize his mistake and in another one of his Saturday media chains insulted the songwriter once again. It was later discovered that the police report falsified the facts in Correa’s favor. Guevara discussed the possibility of suing the president but quickly recanted saying that everyone knows that Correa controls the judiciary.

Alvaro Noboa case, more judicial intimidation

Bananera Noboa, owned by the leader of the opposition party, PRIAN, former Presidential candidate and businessman Alvaro Noboa, was sentenced to pay over 100 million US dollars in unpaid back taxes for 2005.

The sentence was handed down at the end of 2012 and to impose its decision the Internal Revenue Service (SRI) based its decision on the “presumptive capacity” a discretional law incorporated by Correa into the Taxation Act.

They have already announced that it will continue reviewing and taxing the company for all the years they have failed to pay taxes.

Before being sentenced, Noboa filed a writ of habeas corpus, to stop the execution of the tax penalty against him. Judge Yvonne Hernandez presided over this hearing and was later suspended from her duties for doing so, by the Judicature Council in a clear act of intimidation against judicial officers. To pressure the businessman into paying, the SRI requested a judicial order prohibiting Noboa from leaving the country. It was immediately and happily executed by the Ecuadorian courts. Noboa left the country returning several weeks after the SRI had seized dozens of assets including the farm La Clementina, and the teca and banana plantations.

According to Carlos Marx Carrasco, head of the SRI at that time, the confiscations of this property covered 94% of Bananera Noboa’s supposed debt, in other words, 90.3 million USD. Since the entire debt was 97 million USD a balance was due to cover the other 6 million USD. In spite of Noboa’s wife’s request to meet with President Correa to fix the problem and pay to avoid the confiscation of the farm, La Clementina; it was auctioned off to 1,714 of its 1,900 employees during the Christmas holiday of 2013. Notwithstanding, Carrasco claimed that Grupo Noboa had other debts, in ongoing cases, in excess of 180 million USD.

The businessman Noboa sued Carlos Marx Carrasco for defamation after the latter claimed that Grupo Noboa owed an additional 180 million USD. The SRI has announced that they will continue to looking into the company’s yearly tax payments corresponding to other years.

Pepe Acacho Case, indigenous assemblyman persecuted

Pepe Acacho is an indigenous leader of the Shuar nation, Assemblyman for the opposition movement Pachakutik and former Vice President of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities (CONAIE), the main indigenous group that has had several disputes with Correa and is another victim of judicial persecution.

In 2013, Acacho was sentenced to 12 years in prison for sabotage and terrorism, in addition to a fine of more than $400,000.00 USD. He was sentenced for allegedly leading and encouraging the protests against the government of Correa, which occurred in September 2009. During these demonstrations a member of the Shuar community died and several policemen were wounded.

However, human rights organizations, agreed that Acacho was sentenced with insufficient evidence, and given an exceptionally disproportionate sentence. For these organizations, this case is really about the criminalization of social protest. Acacho’s defense attorneys indicated that during the trial there was no proof of terrorism and that the videos and audios were manipulated to inculpate the Indian leader.

Clever Jimenez Case, persecuted for exposing corruption

Clever Jimenez is an assemblyman for the Pachakutik Plurinational Movement and one of the most visible complainants of corruption at the hands of the Correa regime. He has described it as "the most corrupt government in Ecuador’s history."

Clever Jimenez has monitored many cases, such as the infamous “Petrochina case” and “Ruta G” regarding the irregularities in the oil negotiations between Ecuador and China where intermediary mafias are diverting two or three dollars for each barrel of oil that is exported.

On August 4, 2011, Jimenez filed a complaint ordering the investigation of Raphael Correa’s responsibility for crimes against humanity regarding the events of September 30, 2010. That day a police riot broke out over salary disputes and they closed off the hospital where the President sought refuge after being hit by armed policemen as he tried to placate the protest. Five people were killed: two military men, two police officers and one civilian while dozens of others were wounded.

A military operation rescued Correa from the hospital where instead of placating the masses he rebuked them and even dared them to shoot him. Chaos soon broke out. Jimenez called for the President’s resignation soon after the insubordination occurred. A report by the Armed Forces declared, “The rescue mission was organized with the President when he determined he was in “imminent danger” due to the death threats heard over the police radio”.

Prosecutors dismissed Jimenez’s complaint and declared it to be malicious and reckless, after Correa publicly ordered them to do so during his Saturday media chain. Judge Lucy Blacio violated Jimenez’s parliamentary immunity and sentenced him to 18 months in prison and ordered him to pay a fine of $140.000.00 USD. His lawyers claimed that the prosecutor in charge, Galo Chiriboga, was not authorized to act, because he had been Correa’s personal attorney years ago in a trial he filed against Banco del Pichincha. Furthermore, Jimenez had reported several irregularities committed by Chiriboga in his position as the Minister of Oil. Jimenez, Fernando Villavicencio, a political activist and journalist and Carlos Figueroa, a union leader have all been sentenced.

The National Court of Justice filed away the complaint and the Assemblyman said that was to be expected by a judiciary that is subject to the Executive and he had done it only as a formality because his true intention was to file it before the International Criminal Tribunal. The complaint accuses the President of ordering the Army to shoot inside and around the immediate area of the Police Hospital on September 30, 2011.

In the face of such evident persecution to which the accused are subjected to, Inter-American Court of Human Rights granted precautionary measures in favor of Jimenez, Villavicencio and Figueroa. However, the Correa regime did not abide by them and increased the persecution which is why all three of them are in a clandestine hideaway.

Pachamama Case, disbanded by presidential order

The Panchamama Foundation was a civil society organization, created more than 15 years ago, which has fiercely opposed the government's intention to exploit the Yasuni ITT oil field located inside one of Ecuador’s biggest national parks. The Yasuni is also considered to be one of the areas of greatest biodiversity in the world.

The Pachama Foundation was disbanded by government order, using the pretext of a demonstration in Quito where diplomats of the Chilean government were attacked. The Pachamama were immediately disbanded without allowing the Panchamama to exercise their right to a defense.


Case Marco Tapia, Mayor persecuted by one of Correa’s “special” judges

This case is very unique because it is the first clash among members of the governing party. Marco Tapia defeated Iniguez in the mayoral elections. Iniguez is currently a judge with very close ties to Correa. The electoral defeat triggered Iniguez to prosecute Tapia by suing him for libel and getting the Mayor sentenced to prison.

The judgment also orders Tapia to pay Iniguez $5 million USD as just compensation. Tapia said that according to his calculations in order to pay the powerful judge the fine ordered by the court he would have to work for 198 years. He went on to say that his fellow Alianza Pais party member, Betty Tola, had warned him: "You're messed up buddy. You messed with the judge that handles the special cases for the president”. The mayor resigned and remains in hiding.

In June 2014, Tapia filed a complaint against the Ecuadorean Government and a request for precautionary measures before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

Cesar Monge case, 235 trials for accusation of corruption

Otra muestra de abuso de poder y persecución judicial es el caso de César Monge, candidato a la Prefectura del Guayas quien denunció los actos de corrupción del candidato oficialista Jimmy Jairala en enero del 2014.

The case of Cesar Monge is another example of the abuse of power and judicial persecution. He was a candidate for the Prefecture of Guayas who accused the incumbent government candidate, Jimmy Jairala, acts of corruption in January 2014.

Monge accused Jairala of having taken about a million dollars out of the country, through appropriations made by employees of the Prefecture. The money was supposedly sent to Peru a country where Jairala is a well known horse breeder.

Once re-elected, Jairala, through his attorneys Gutenberg and Alembert Vera, the President’s attorneys and famous for being the authors of the ruling in the El Universo case (where 40 million USD in damages were ordered to be paid to Rafael Correa) brought 235 criminal proceedings against Monge. Obviously, the goal was to intimidate him and prevent him from continuing to investigate the corruption at the Prefecture of Guayas. Thus, it appears that corruption in Ecuador unites certain corrupt politicians and their cheating attorneys.

Monge asserts that they want to use judges as “instruments of intimidation”. “when we, the citizens, are convicted for demanding honesty, it is then gentlemen that we can say our society has been condemned, condemned to silence, condemned to fear condemned to the abuse of a few,” added Monge, who went on to say that he would continue denouncing acts of corruption.

The Yasunidos Case. Persecuted, cajoled and arrested

Yasunidos , a group of citizens opposed to Correa’s extreme activist style and that foresees the uncontrolled exploitation of natural resources, struggled for the approval of a referendum to determine whether or not to drill for oil inside the Yasuni National Park. They have been the subject of government deceit, insults and even assaults at the hands of the regime.

Rafael Correa’s regime boycotted the referendum since it risked losing it due to a decline in popularity, after the sectional elections of February 23, where it lost popular support especially in Quito, Guayaquil, Cuenca and 20 other cantonal locations. A member of the organization, David Marmol, was illegally arrested by the President Correa’s security detail after having shot a sign of disapproval to the President’s motorcade. Marmol was beaten, threatened and insulted for several hours then was released due to the pressure by the people.

Correa wants to impose the exploitation of Yasuni Park and obtain 150,000 barrels of petroleum a day to complete the 300,000 barrels for the possible function of the “El Pacifico” Refinery. The project is to be constructed with Chinese money and companies in the province of Manabi and its costs is 12 billion USD. Since 2010 till this day, Ecuador continues signing contracts under similar circumstances with Petrochina and CDB. Analysts estimate that today more than 80% of the all the Ecuadorean petroleum exports are done with Petrochina. That means that, 252,000 barrels of petroleum are sold daily at a lower price than market value generating a loss of approximately 230 million USD a year.

VIDEO: Mayor of Gualaceo Marco Tapia complaints persecution from Judge Paul Iñiguez
VIDEO: Colonel Carrión
Director of Hospital the police, seized on President Correa's comand.
VIDEO: Mery Zamora
School teacher and Assembly woman for MPD, questions about her judicial persecution
VIDEO: The 10 from Luluncoto
Mother of one of the two girl students begs for the liberation of her daughter
VIDEO: Report from Human Rights
Human Rights organizations analyze the case of the 10 of Luluncoto
VIDEO:Crime of Fausto Valdiviezo
A journalist murdered for investigating a corruption lead within the Tv Station TC Television
VIDEO: Assemblyman Cléver Jiménez
Accuses the government on charges of state terrorism
VIDEO: César Monge
235 trials against him for denouncing corruption on Jimmy Jairala's administration
VIDEO: Dalo Bucaram and Gaby Pazmiño
Explain the case of the "Son's of PRE"
VIDEO: Chamo Guevara
Tells about his encounter with President Correa
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