On May 5th, this blogger reported on Ecuador President Rafael Correa’s attack on the country’s own media. While there are a number of examples, the most prominent one has resulted in a development of disasterous proportions for media in Ecuador, and calls that country’s entire political and judicial ethics into question.
Ecuador’s El Universo has lost a lawsuit ordered by Correa, as Judge Juan Paredes has said that three of its editors, including the columnist who wrote what got under Correa’s skin, will be fined $40 million. The newspaper has to pay $10 million, while Carlos Cesar, Nicolas Perez, and former opinion editor Emilio Palacio have to pay $30 million total – unless they can mount a successful appeal.
This is what Correa was so upset about, as I blogged in May:
In a searing column dated February 6, 2011, and entitled “NO to the lies,” Emilio Palacio, Eluniverso’s opinion editor, calls Correa “the dicator” rather than using his name, and writes (using Google Translate)…
I understand that the Dictator (devout Christian man of peace) does not lose an opportunity to pardon criminals. Pardoned drug mules, sympathized with the murderers prisoners in the Littoral, asked citizens to stop stealing for no victims, he cultivated a friendship with squatters and became legislators, to who betrayed him. But Ecuador is a secular state where not allowed to use faith as a legal basis to exempt the criminals pay their debts. If I committed a crime, I demand that you prove me otherwise, do not expect any judicial pardon but due apologies…
What happens is that the dictator finally understood (or their attorneys did understand) that it has no way to prove the alleged crime of September 30 and everything was the result of an improvised script, in the midst of this rushing to hide the irresponsibility of the dictator to go to get into a barracks revolt, to open his shirt and yelling kill him, like a true fighter cachacascÃƒÂ¡n that strives to show in a circus tent of a forgotten town.
Emilio Palacio is referring to Correa’s actions of last year and during the police uprising of last September 30th that challenged the President, who was hit by a gas canister, and eventually resulted in the death of three people. Correa, who came out, supposedly to restore order, ended up trying to take his shirt off, and allegedly yelling for the directors of the uprising to kill him where he stood. Hence the reference to “to open his shirt and yelling kill him, like a true fighter cachacascÃƒÂ¡n that strives to show in a circus tent of a forgotten town,” in Palacio’s column.
Here’s the BBC video report, showing Correa grabbing to rip off his shirt and tie, and saying, basically, “here I am, kill me if you’re brave” and saying that his policies will continue:
The action calls into question Ecuador’s judicial system, yet again. It casts yet another giant dark shadow on the Ecuador court’s ruling against Chevron, as well as how Ecuador itself has handled Americans doing business in that country. In 2007, Occidental Petroleum was kicked out of the country, as Ecuador seized its assets, including luxury cars that Ecuadorians started fist-fights over.
There’s more to this story. Stay tuned.