Ecuadoran journalist once insulted publicly by president speaks about the press' relationship with the government (VIDEO)

With Ecuadoran president Rafael Correa increasingly critical of the media, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) in October issued a "freedom resolution" calling on the government to "reverse recent trends that seriously undermine a free and independent press in Ecuador, by repealing criminal defamation, putting a stop to all forms of harassment against journalists and guaranteeing the full independence of the media in the country."

Fundamedios has reported 13 lawsuits against journalists and the media in Ecuador, including a $40 million fine and three-year prison sentence journalists from El Universo are facing over the president's accusations of libel.

It is within this chilling context of hostility against the media that Sandra Ochoa, reporter for El Universo, spoke with the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas about the press' relationship with Correa in Ecuador. See below a video of her interview in Spanish.

Ochoa, whom President Correa referred to as a "fat slob," recalled one press conference where Correa dodged question after question. When it was her turn to ask something, she remembered saying: "What is it you want me to ask, because none of the questions that have been asked up until now have been answered. So the president got mad and said 'yes, I respond to the questions, you all are the ones who don't know how to ask questions.'" Ochoa added that in other occasions the president has discredited reporters by calling them "savage beasts," accusing journalists of insulting rather than reporting. It was that incident that led Correa to insult her, she said.

While personally she sees the insult as amusing, she said, what is worrisome is the pattern that since the start of administration, Correa has seemed to have been on a mission to discredit journalists. She also said he is bothered by the self censorship and the revenge she has seen journalists adopt because of the government's repression of freedom of expression -- neither of which attitude benefits the public, she said.

Ochoa also lamented the president's steps to create new laws and decrees that she sees as unconstitutional and creating instability for the country.