In this period President Rafael Correa maintained a generally hostile attitude toward the press. The most troubling developments were the trial of the editor of La Hora newspaper and a proposed law to ban the dissemination of certain types of video. In addition, any number of epithets have been hurled against the press, such as “incompetent,” “defamatory,” “lying,” “corrupt,” “middling,” “mafia-like,” “journalistic pornography,” “human wretchedness,” “savage beasts,” and “idiots who publish trash.” It was also commonplace for journalists to be accused of being “racist,” “discriminatory” and “exclusionary.” However, since the September 30 elections to choose the members of the Constitutional Assembly — which the ruling party candidates won by a wide margin — the tone of his statements has changed. Below are the noteworthy developments of this period: On April 4 a court in Latacunga sentenced journalist Nelson Fueltala of La Gaceta newspaper to 60 days in prison for having reported statements by Pujilí police chief Ricardo Estrella criticizing the salary and allegedly arrogant attitude of the city’s mayor. Fueltala has appealed the verdict to the Supreme Court. On May 2, the office that oversees companies in Ecuador invalidated two capital increases of August 2002 and September 2006 pursued at El Telégrafo C.A. publisher of the daily El Telégrafo by shareholder Carlos Navarrete Castillo, who gained 80.16% of the company’s capital. As a result, the state became majority owner. The state, though its Deposit Guarantee Agency, on March 8, 2002, had taken over of former banker Fernando Aspiazu’s shares in that company (which totaled 99.9%) because of the 1999 financial crisis. On May 3, the national communications authority denounced the allegedly poor working conditions in some media outlets, though it has not yet elaborated on this accusation. On May 10, President Correa filed a criminal complaint for desacato (insult) against Francisco Vivanco Riofrío, president of La Hora, in connection with an editorial titled “Vandalismo oficial” (Official Vandalism) that was published on March 9. The president’s legal secretary, Alexis Mera, said that Correa may drop the charges if the newspaper issues a public apology. The paper’s management said that the opinions expressed in the editorial fall within the right to free speech. The IAPA particularly criticized the use of the desacato law, which it described as “archaic in a modern democracy and on the decline in Latin America.” After several months of inaction, the prosecutors reopened the case a few weeks ago, ordering an inspection of the site without accepting the evidence suggested by La Hora. On May 19, President Correa had Emilio Palacio, opinion editor of El Universo newspaper, escorted out of his Saturday radio program when Palacio denied Correa’s accusations that the Ecuadorian press had not denounced the banking crisis of 1999. Palacio retorted that Correa had not done so as an academic. Correa replied that he, as a university professor, had no obligation to denounce the crisis, and Palacio said that universities should be committed to the fight against corruption. Annoyed, the President ordered a guard to escort the journalist out. On May 21, President Correa called on Ecuadorians to sue media outlets. “Citizens, bring to trial the media outlets that violate the truth,” he said. On May 26, during a public speech by former Finance Minister Ricardo Patiño at the headquarters of CIESPAL in Quito, government supporters welcomed journalists with statements such as “Down with the sell-outs in the press.” Assistants verbally assaulted the journalists several times. Patiño asked these attacks to stop. On May 27, President Correa used the words “middling,” “stupid,” “lying,” and other similar epithets against Carlos Jijón, Alfonso Espinosa de los Monteros, Teresa Arboleda and Carlos Vera of Ecuavisa, Emilio Palacio of El Universo, Jorge Vivanco of Expreso, columnist Benjamín Rosales of El Comercio newspaper and Andrés Carrión of Channel 1. Correa also criticized Extra newspaper and Vistazo magazine for misusing the image of women. On June 2, President Correa said that he would sign the Declaration of Chapultepec only if the media agree to: 1) respect the labor rights of journalists, 2) disseminate quality news, 3) “democratize” media space, and 4) have inaccuracies, incorrect or partial news, and lies deemed as a “crime against public faith.” On June 17, Alberto Acosta, who will likely be the speaker of the Constitutional Assembly for the ruling party, stated that the new constitution should “democratize” the shareholders of journalistic companies. On June 27, at a press conference in the city of Cuenca, President Correa called journalist Sandra Ochoa a gordita horrorosa (roughly, a “fat slob”) after she said, “What do you want me to ask” because “you only answer the questions you want to be asked.” On July 10, President Correa amended the regulations for the Law on Radio Broadcasting and Television to ban the dissemination of clandestine or unauthorized video or audio. He exempted videos recorded by the media or by public-sector institutions with their own equipment in order to prevent the commission of a crime or to prove that a crime has been committed. On July 23, Pablo Dousdebes, the head of the Casa Militar who was with the President in Guayaquil, threatened to detain Carlos Barros, a photographer for El Universo; he then pushed Barros, causing him to fall down. On August 18, escorted by members of the national police force and accompanied by a team of photographers and camera operators from the national telecommunications authority, approximately a hundred fishermen marched in Quito to defend a decree allowing limited sales of shark fins. The protestors went to the lobby of the offices of El Universo and Teleamazonas, where they used shouting, insults, banners, and fliers to repudiate the “lies” told in the news. Sources in the President’s office later reported that the pro-government press had covered the event “by orders from above, from the advisers.” On September 8, during an interview with Argentine journalist Jorge Lanata that was broadcast throughout the country, President Correa accused El Universo of having censored him in 1985 when he was a student leader for having supported a bill to restrict cigarette and alcohol advertising. This accusation was denied by the newspaper, which explained that following the statement from the then-student leader, he was welcomed by El Universo management in support of his union activity. On September 16, radio host Cora Cadena of the program “Radio Transgresor Jatarishum” on the Quito radio station La Luna was brutally beaten by neo-Nazis. On October 3, the National Council of Universities and Polytechnical Schools submitted a draft constitution to the President for discussion in the soon-to-convene Constitutional Assembly. The draft includes a number of provisions related to free speech and freedom of information that should be duly considered by national and international press organizations. On October 10, María Paula Romo, a member of the Constitutional Assembly who was elected from the pro-government slate, stated her support for free speech and said she thought the new constitution should be modeled on the American Convention of Human Rights. Romo was the President’s delegate to the committee drafting the constitution for discussion at the assembly.