Correa warns 3 newspapers about possible sanctions for insufficient coverage of Chevron lawsuit

In a public display of derision against private media that has become habitual, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa again ripped apart the editions of a handful of local newspapers during one of his recent televised national addresses known as "cadenas." This time Correa also warned three publications that they could face sanctions under the country's Communications Law, under which they are required to "publish public interest articles," non-profit Fundamedios reported.

Correa's warning during his Sep. 21 TV appearance refers to the coverage of several dailies -- among them newspapers HoyEl Comercio and La Hora -- of the government's campaign “The dirty hands of Chevron," which deals with Ecuador's lawsuit against the U.S. oil company for environmental damages inflicted on the Amazon rainforest.

For Correa, even though the campaign has "gone around the world," newspaper Hoy only published a small article on its pages. "That's what you call previous censorship, manipulation because it's clearly national interest news and they have a responsibility to present it, but since they are private businesses they believe they can decide what to present and what not to," he said.

Correa also criticized the article published by newspaper El Comercio titled "The Hague's ruling exonerates Chevron,” which he said was entirely based on a press release from the oil company. "We must enforce the Communications Law so that in the same eight columns of the story the country's corrupt press corrects this lie." After other accusations Correa tore apart the edition.

“This is the press we must face. They are worse than newspaper El Universo, which has calmed down after the passage of the Communications Law and since we beat them on trial and they received their lesson. The worst of all is newspaper La Hora, which is an insult, not even newspaper Hoy is comparable, and that's considering it's poisoned," Correa said, according to Fundamedios. "Freedom of expression is also to tear newspapers apart... I tear newspapers apart in rejection to this manipulation from the corrupt press. Now the [Inter-American Commission for Human Rights] cries."

This is the fifth time that Correa tears newspapers apart during one of his televised addresses.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.