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Attacks on the Press in 1997 - Ecuador

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date February 1998
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 1997 - Ecuador, February 1998, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/47c56532c.html [accessed 21 October 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Ecuador's vigorous press, like the rest of the country, spent much of the year recovering from the instability that marked the short term of President Abdalá Bucaram Ortiz, who was forced from office in February.

Bucaram frequently criticized journalists in public speeches and withheld government advertising from newspapers critical of the president. He showed particular disdain for the daily Hoy, perhaps because that paper was the first to report the disappearance of funds raised for poor children during a telethon which the president had hosted. At the beginning of the year, a group of journalists protested the growing tensions by marching on the presidential palace.

The media climate has greatly improved since congress removed Bucaram from office for "mental incompetence," but problems remain. In June, Attorney General Leonidas Plaza Verduga brought a nearly US$3 million libel suit against Hoy editor Benjamín Ortiz for a story on insurance fraud. The presiding judge dropped criminal charges against Ortiz, but the civil charges are still pending.

In September, the press scuttled an amendment to the penal code which would have criminalized the publication of images or texts that could "damage the intimacy and personal lives of people, particularly politicians." Also that month, journalists from Ecuador and Peru signed a declaration in Lima promising to report accurately and objectively about the border conflict that had several times brought the two Andean nations to the brink of war. The editors announced that their goal was to nurture peace by "increasing understanding" between the two countries.

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