Ecuador’s Communications Law is an aberration with respect to freedom of expression that was approved in an irregular manner in order to control news content through a regulatory board.
President Correa faces the same problem of a private press critical of his governance as various populist governments in Latin America.
Unlike them, Correa declared an eminently political act such as expression in the media that cover his government to be a mere “public service” subject to government regulation. To carry out this regulation, he established a body to oversee news content with the power to impose fines and demand corrections. If that weren’t enough, he coined the legal term “media lynching,” meaning “repeated attempts to destroy an individual or legal entity or diminish his, her, or its credibility.”
To ask whether the aberrant “media lynching” law will apply to government-run media or the head of state himself and his press office is a valid question.
Last Tuesday a suit was filed against the law questioning its legality. Let’s hope it is successful to protect Ecuadorians’ right to alternative sources of information beyond the “public service” message set by the government for its own political purposes.
Ecuador’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ricardo Patiño, claims that the media’s annoyance with the law is due to the fact that Correa has greater credibility than the media. We beg to differ.
We believe this censorship reflects the government’s panic in the face of its critics, which forced it to go so far as to sidestep regular legislative processes to pass the law as an urgent measure.
This fear is specifically that the president cannot maintain his credibility, but can control the independent media and become the only version of the truth. The one that determines in the halls of power what type of information Ecuadorians deserve to hear under the guise of a “public service.”