By Liliana Honorato
The Ecuadorian government confirmed that members of the presidential cabinet will no longer give interviews to private news media outlets, reported the Ecuadorian NGO Fundamedios. Aside from this attack on freedom of the press, Fundamedios also reported the closure of the ninth news media outlet in less than one month in the country.
The announcement was made just three days after Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa proposed ending interviews to private news media, saying that it would be a contradiction to provide interviews to what the president has called the corrupt press, after telling the Ecuadorian citizens to boycott the private press during the end of May.
National Secretary of Communication Fernando Alvarado said that public officials will only speak with those private news outlets which the government doesn't consider mercantilists, which in effect excludes the main media outlets in Ecuador, such as the newspapers El Universo, El Comercio, La Hora, Expreso, and Hoy, as well as the TV channels Ecuavisa and Teleamazonas, reported El Comercio.
“It has never been seen in history that a president prohibits his ministers from speaking. Now they must feel humiliated. If the ministers had dignity, when receiving such an order, they would have resigned," said assembly member Rafael Dávila, according to La Hora.
In a press release, the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) condemned the Ecuadorian government's decision, calling it an “attack on freedom of information,” while in another release IAPA expressed its satisfaction with the recent words given by Chilean President Sebastián Piñera in which he energetically defended an independent press -- in contrast with Ecuadorian President Correa -- and the importance of press freedom. "A true and authentic freedom of press is not always welcomed or comfortable for leaders," said Piñera on June 12, reported the news outlet Emol. “I prefer 1,000 times more the noise of a free press than the silence of a muzzled press," added the Chilean president.
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.