TWEET! #KeepingScore #Ecuador must respect & protect the fundamental right to free expression @FiscaliaEcuador
All statistics and cases used for the Keeping Score campaign have been selected from the Case List.
CASE LIST 2013 – ECUADOR
*Juan Carlos CALDERÓN:
Profession: journalist and co-founder of digital magazine Plan V Details of threat: He has reported receiving death threats since the online publication of an article entitled ‘Reinsurance Wars’ (‘La Guerra de los Reaseguros’) which alleged the mismanagement of reinsurance plans for public enterprises. On 26 September 2013, Calderón reportedly received a text message in which he was warned that he would be beaten if he didn’t stop his investigation. The message also stated that he would be followed closely. On 30 September, he was reportedly approached be people from an insurance company who told him that he could be killed for his investigation. On 2 October 2013, two unknown men reportedly asked security staff from Calderón’s residential area if his home was for sale. Calderón believes this to be an act of harassment as his home was not for sale and was the only one enquired about.
Profession: journalist with La Hora newspaper Details of threat: He reportedly received death threats on 29 September 2013. That day, Castillo, who had published a story on the detention of an alleged criminal in the area, received a series of telephone calls from supposed friends of the criminal. The first caller insulted and threatened him with a bomb at his house; the second stated that they knew his whereabouts and that they would kill him; while a third caller allegedly warned him to tone down his reporting or he would get into trouble. Castillo also said that prior to the receiving the calls, the family of the detained criminal had warned him. The following day, Castillo reportedly received another telephone call from someone who said that his colleague had called him from jail to tell him that he was upset about Castillo’s article. Castillo is said to have reported the first threats to the local authorities on 29 September.
*Javier BONILLA ‘BONIL’:
Profession: cartoonist for El Universo newspaper Details of threat: He was reportedly threatened on the social media site Facebook after President Correa demanded an apology for a political cartoon published on 21 January 2013 during his re-election campaign. According to reports, the threats repeat much of the language used by the president to discredit the press. Background: The president reportedly complained to the electoral commission about Bonilla’s cartoon, which suggested that the president had faked his kidnapping during the police rebellion of 30 September 2010, demanding a full apology from the newspaper. The newspaper responded by publishing the president’s letter of complaint in full in the Opinion section.
Profession: executive director of the Newspaper Editors’ Association of Ecuador Details of threat: Was reportedly threatened by a supporter of President Correa on the street in May 2013. It is thought that the threat followed the president referring to Cornejo as a “scoundrel” on 4 May in response to comments the journalist had made regarding recent freedom of expression reports on Ecuador. The man told Cornejo that he was being watched; when Cornejo asked if it was a threat the man answered: “Correa is the best president we have ever had.”
Profesion: songwriter Details of threat: Reportedly received threatening messages via Twitter from 7 September 2013, after President Correa reportedly insulted him in his weekly broadcast Number 338; thereafter the hashtag ‘#UnPuñeteParaGuevara’ (#APunchForGuevara) started circulating on Twitter, with various users’ tweets promoting violence against the songwriter. The threats follow an incident on 29 August 2013, in which Guevara reportedly made a rude hand gesture at the presidential caravan as it drove past him. Guevara claims that the gesture was a way of protesting the decision to start oil exploitation procedures in areas within Yasuní National Park.
Profesion: journalist for the newspaper El Comercio Details of threat: He was reportedly threatened by a Twitter user with being beaten on 4 May 2013. The threats, which followed the 29 April 2013 publication of an article by Pallares which questioned the government’s media coverage of the launch of the Ecuadorian Pegaso satellite, accused the journalist of being “envious” and “sick”. Pallares has reportedly been subject to previous threats. According to a Fundamedios report dated 7 April 2013, Pallares had been receiving regular threats through social networks after President Correa had criticised him, The president had reportedly mentioned Pallares on at least 10 separate occasions in his TV program, referring to him by many names including “sick”, “coward” and “immoral”. Pallares has been known to write articles critical of the Correa government. Supporters of the president had left threatening messages in response to videos critical of Pallares.
Profession: editor and correspondent for La Hora newspaper in Concordia Details of threat: On 12 March 2013, seven people, among them police officers and municipal officials, reportedly entered the journalist’s home on the grounds that he was allegedly occupying public property without municipal permission. According to reports, Alcívar received a telephone call from his wife who was scared by the seven officials who had entered their home without a warrant and were carrying weapons. Upon his arrival at the scene, Alcívar was reportedly berated by one of the officers and ordered to show his permit to occupy the street. Alcívar has admitted to occupying two metres of the pavement because of some repairs he was making to the house. He reportedly claims that the operation was part of the persecution of which he has been a victim for some years, which he blames on the local mayor. Background: In 2010, Alcívar was reportedly accused of “terrorist aggression against public officials” and is currently awaiting a trial hearing at the Criminal Court of Esmeraldas. He was reportedly the target of two physical assaults in the latter part of 2010 and in 2012 reported being physically and verbally attacked by municipal officials.
Profession: a student who published an opinion article in Diario Hoy newspaper on 1 September 2013 Details of threat: Reportedly faced harassment from President Correa during a televised Weekly National Broadcast no. 338. Reacting to the article, in which Molina criticised the police response during public protests against oil exploitation and around Yasuní National Park, the president reportedly belittled Molina, saying: “they are trying to fool us…this guy is not even in Ecuador right now…he sent the article from Spain…This is simple corruption” and showed personal pictures taken from Molina’s personal Facebook account. Molina reportedly defended his article in an open letter to the president.
Profession: director of the daily newspaper La Nación Sentence: one month in prison and to pay damages of US$30,000 Details of trial: He was acquitted on appeal of defaming a former governor on 9 May 2013. Martínez had been convicted and sentenced on 8 March 2013. The charges stemmed from a 2 September 2012 report that alleged that the then-governor would have her former chief of staff run the state’s affairs during her vacation despite the fact that he no longer held formal office. The former governor denied the report and filed a complaint against Martínez in his capacity as director of the newspaper, saying that her reputation had been damaged. The journalist appealed and argued that the judge should be removed from the case because his wife is reportedly a cousin of the plaintiff.
Juan Carlos CALDERÓN:
Profession: author (with Christian ZURITA) of the book El Gran Hermano (‘Big Brother’) which reveals information about contracts between the brother of President Rafael Correa and the state. Sentence: US$1 million in damages to President Correa Details of trial: On 7 February 2012, the two journalists were convicted of defamation and sentenced to pay damages in connection with their reporting on contracts the president’s brother was accused of having with the state. On 15 February 2012, lawyers for President Correa appealed the sentencing. Some reports suggested Correa might be seeking the full amount of damages originally sought, US$10 million. Following public advocacy by PEN International and other free expression and press groups, on 27 February 2012, Correa announced that he would withdraw the sentences against the two men. In March 2012, the lawyer representing the two men rejected the pardon, saying that there had been no obligation to pay. According to reports, the trial, which is currently on appeal after receiving a first instance sentence, will now continue. No further news as of 31 December 2013; case closed due to lack of information. Background: The two writers also faced a lawsuit for “moral damages” filed in a personal capacity by the Minister of Transport and Public Works in March 2011. Calderón has also received threats. See previous case list for details. [RAN 42/11 and updates]