Two years ago Ecuador declared the end of Free Speech after passing a new law called the Communications Act, which allows the government to establish what information is allowed in the media and this information can be published.
Since the passing of the law, the Superintendency of Communication, the official agency that oversees alleged media violations has sanctioned 198 media outlets. This agency has also passed 506 resolutions and take on 313 processes, of which 185 have translated into economic sanctions that resulted in the collection of $ 201,596.
In addition to the sanctions, media have also had to publish article “corrections” imposed on the by the Ecuadorian government, in which the media reluctantly accepts alleged mistakes in the reporting, but that in reality are news reports loaded with government written information.
In Ecuador, the media not only cannot freely research and publish their own reports, but they also must print whatever material the government sends them. In a recent case, The Ministry of Communications sent out to newspapers a draft of its new list of taxes and policies referring to reforms of the Social Security Act for its immediate publication.
The situation has been described as abusive and authoritarian by many advocates of freedom of the press, including the Ecuadorian Association of Newspaper Editors. According to critics, the same type of practices now being imposed on newspapers had already been pushed on television channels and and radio stations.
“Now they have discovered that they can impose content to newspapers,” said Mauricio Alarcon, from the Andean Foundation for the Observation and Study of Media, which is considered to be abusing the right of correction and reply to impose content and media subjects.
“Upon receipt of the texts, newspapers must publish the content as is, as diagrammed by government and with the exact headlines, epithets and insults against the medium itself.”
The government produced wording is not hidden, and for those who attempt to publish real news, the constraints to work increases every day. This week, a newspaper called the Daily Express reported that for interviews with secretaries of state they had been asked to sed the resumes of the reporters who would interview the government representatives.
“Of course we will not deliver the resumes. If they grant the interviews we will have them, but if they refuse, then it will be too bad.” Apparently, in 99% of cases such interviews are not granted which is seen by media editors as an attempt by the government to censor the media.
“I think this is a clear attempt to try to silence newspapers, harass us so that at the end we stop publishing anything for fear of getting into a legal fight or a financial penalty,” said Jorge Sánchez, editor at the Expreso.
“After 24 months of application of the law, there is more freedom of expression than ever in Ecuador,” says Carlos Ochoa, the head of the Superintendency of Communication.
Ochoa reinforced the fact that since October 2013, when his office was founded, 506 processes have been made and 313 resolutions have been issued, of which 185 were economic sanctions, as if dissent is supposed to be punished by law.
Luis R. Miranda is an award-winning journalist and the founder and editor-in-chief at The Real Agenda. His career spans over 18 years and almost every form of news media. His articles include subjects such as environmentalism, Agenda 21, climate change, geopolitics, globalisation, health, vaccines, food safety, corporate control of governments, immigration and banking cartels, among others. Luis has worked as a news reporter, on-air personality for Live and Live-to-tape news programs. He has also worked as a script writer, producer and co-producer on broadcast news. Read more about Luis.