VIDEO: The complicated panorama of freedom of expression in Ecuador

By Liliana Honorato

Ecuador is one of countries in Latin America with the worst problems in practicing freedom of expression due to President Rafael Correa's repeated attacks on the private and independent press in the country.

In an interview with the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, the journalist and director of the Ecuadorian NGO Fundamedios, César Ricaurte, explained the “complicated situation” in Ecuador between the government and the independent news media.

According to Ricaurte, Fundamedios registered 500 attacks against journalists during President Correa's administration period, which began in 2007. In fact, Ricaurte and his organization were victims of such attacks and received death threats for its criticism against the government more than once. In April 2012, Ricaurte sent an open letter to President Correa demanding respect and making him responsible for his safety.

Among a series of alarming events, the president publicly attacked journalists in the country, approved several laws that seriously damage freedom of expression in Ecuador, closed many independent news outlets, called on Ecuadorian citizens to boycott the press and to rebel against the press's "dictatorship," said that the leftist governments are "affected by journalists persecution," and accused journalists of defamation which ended in a multimillion dollar lawsuit against several journalists.

Due to the excessive amount of attacks against the press, it is not surprising that several organizations that are concerned with the press and freedom of expression situation in Ecuador heavily criticized the president at national as well as international levels.

Below, see the complete interview by the Knight Center with Ricaurte, which took place during the 10th Austin Forum on Journalism in the Americas, at the University of Texas at Austin, in May 2012.

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.