President of Ecuador asks for apology and right of reply over newspaper cartoon

The president of Ecuador Rafael Correa – who is currently running for reelection – and his running mate Jorge Glas have filed a complaint with the National Electoral Commission (or CNE in Spanish) over the publication of a political cartoon that they say damages their image, according to the news agency AFP.

The cartoon, drawn by Javier ‘Bonil’ Bonilla, was published on Jan. 21 by the newspaper El Universo.  According to the president, it accuses him of having faked his kidnapping during the police revolt that took place on Sept. 30, 2010 (also known as 30-S) that left ten dead and 274 wounded, said AFP.

The cartoon also references the accusations that Glas plagiarized his dissertation and compared them to the president’s allegedly false kidnapping, saying “on 30-S the president also plagiarized,” said the newspaper Hoy.

The president and his running mate sent a letter in protest to the CNE and the director of El Universo in which they claim the cartoon is an “act of violation of the historical memory of Ecuadorians,” said the newspaper El Diario. They also emphasized their right of reply and demanded an apology from the newspaper.

However, the paper did not publish the apology. Instead it published the letter in its entirety in the Opinion section of its Jan. 30 edition.  A year ago, Correa won a defamation suit against El Universo that sentenced three directors and one ex-opinion columnist to three years in jail and a $40 million fine.  He pardoned all four shortly after under international pressure.

Last Tuesday the CNE banned an ad that it said was offensive to Correa and Guillermo Laso, his main rival in the coming elections, said AFP.

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.

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