“If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” (George Washington).
Freedom of speech is a human right that should be respected by any authority. Sadly, in Ecuador, the press and the government aren’t only enemies, but the government seeks to destroy the media. The job of journalists is to expose the truth to the world, to be the voice of those citizens who don’t have a voice; but the Ecuadorian government will not let them fulfill this task.
Every newspaper that writes an article against the president, Rafael Correa, or against one of his actions will be closed. Journalists live in fear, they don’t know what they can publish and what they cannot publish. They fear having to spend part of their lifetime in a prison cell, just because they published an article the president did not like. Recently a very old and known newspaper called Hoy was shut down by the government. The editor of this newspaper, Iván Flores, wrote in his twitter “To die doing journalism isn’t dying” the day that the government decided to pressure this newspaper to shut down. How is it possible to restrain not only the people who worked for the government, but all the Ecuadorian people from learning and expressing the truth? How can a president state he promotes freedom of speech, when he is violating this right continuously?
When President Rafael Correa was reelected in 2013, he passed a communications law that violated the right to have freedom of press and freedom of speech. This law regulated broadcast and print media. Censorship, smear campaigns, and legal actions, among others have been used against different newspapers, the highest authorities constantly intimidate journalists and the media. The law’s purpose is to democratize the media “strengthen freedom of expression and promote ‘a good press’” in the country, according to President Rafael Correa, but this law is doing the exact opposite. The international view of this law is negative. Journalists cannot inform anymore, and Ecuadorians start to live in this oneiric world the Ecuadorian government has created, a world full of deceit, a world that is afraid of expressing the truth, a world where the president should be praised and never criticized. This law, is terrorizing journalists, it’s letting the government and even the high authorities get involved in every article any Ecuadorian newspaper publishes or creates, it’s imprisoning journalists , it’s making them lose their job, lose their life, and most importantly, it’s crated a population that is scared of expressing themselves. This law has directly violated the freedom of speech and press.
An example of Correa violating the freedom of speech and intimidating the journalists and “his people” is the Emilio Palacio’s case. In 2010, there was a police protest. The police and the military were protesting because the paying bonus which was given to the police monthly, was going to be taken away by the President. Correa called this a “Golpe de Estado” and he claimed to be held hostage by the police in a Police Hospital. He did not let the Police share the true story with the citizens, instead, he created an enormous “show”. He screamed towards the Police and the Military, stating that they should kill him once and for all, that they were betraying their nation, and that they had no idea the gravity of the situation they had created. The newspaper found Correas “play” extremely entertaining, and the articles written about this situation were unbiased articles that stated truths and facts; nevertheless, President Rafael Correa addressed the nation and stated that those articles were full of lies and controversy was created.
Correa has been a populist president throughout all of his career, he has convinced part of the population of Ecuador that every law, and every action he takes is for the good of the nation, and that he promotes freedom of speech and freedom of press. Luckily, there are some Ecuadorians who know the truth.
By: Lucía Jervis