This period featured, along with a change of administration, the passing of new regulations for implementing the Law on Transparency and Access to Public Information, as well as an end to the systematic attacks on the press by the executive and legislative branches. The new regulations were issued by President Alfredo Palacio and supersede those passed by former President Lucio Gutiérrez, which had been strongly criticized by the press. On three occasions — once under former President Gutiérrez and twice under President Palacio — a state of emergency was declared. As provided under the Constitution, this measure allows for the suppression of free speech. The most significant developments during this period were the following: On April 14, Paco Velasco, director of the Quito radio station La Luna, reported that he had received threats against himself and his family after calling for nighttime marches and pot-banging protests against the administration of Lucio Gutiérrez. He claimed that phone service at his radio station was interrupted on the evenings of April 15 and 16. On May 3, Velasco left the country because, according to him, it was not safe enough for him to continue his work. He stated that he made this decision at the recommendation of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. He returned to Quito several weeks later. On April 14 President Lucio Gutiérrez issued an executive decree dissolving the Supreme Court and declaring a one-day state of emergency in Quito. On April 19 Julio García Romero, an independent journalist and photographer from Chile, passed away. He was covering the demonstrations in Quito where tens of thousands of people were protesting against the president and members of Congress. The physician who treated García confirmed that he died of cardiorespiratory failure. On April 27, reporters Ximena Montenegro and Walter Villarreal from the television stations Gamavisión y Ecuavisa, respectively, along with their cameramen and technical crews, were abducted in Santa Lucía, Guayas province, by supporters of Lucio Gutiérrez. The abductors demanded that the stations broadcast live reports to the entire country on their support for the former president. The journalists were released after meeting the protestors’ demand. On June 3 President Alfredo Palacio disavowed statements by the defense minister, who had asked journalist Milton Pérez of the television station Teleamazonas to reveal the name of the source who had provided her with information on activity within the presidential office. On June 9 legislator Carlos González stated that the phone lines of two reporters at Teleamazonas were tapped under an order issued by Judge Luis Fernández Piedra of a criminal court in Pichincha. The television chain did not report the incident. A judge issued an order to prosecutor Henry Estrada that the phone calls of journalist Milton Pérez and María Fernanda Zavala be “tapped, monitored and recorded.” On June 14 the judge rescinded this order. Such wiretapping is banned under the Constitution but allowed under the Criminal Code. The Ecuadorean Soccer Federation stopped journalist Oscar Portilla from entering a stadium to cover a national championship game because he had apparently given inaccurate reports on the behavior of players on the national soccer team. Portilla reported that the players had brought women into their rooms while in seclusion prior to the game against Colombia in Barranquilla. This charge was denied by the players and coaching staff. No explanation has been given for the jamming of the television program “Tres Mujeres y el Presidente,” which Ecuavisa in Guayaquil was planning to broadcast live. Human rights activist Alfonso Ortiz stated that this was the work of the National Telecommunications Department and that he had warned that it would happen. Government representatives denied this claim. On July 28, a group of demonstrators calling for the removal of the mayor of Chone, in Manabí province, tried to set fire to a vehicle belonging to El Diario of Portoviejo because they were unhappy with an article in the newspaper. They also attacked newsstands and tore out the page carrying the story. On July 31, supporters of former President Lucio Gutiérrez verbally attacked reporters from Ecuavisa, Teleamazonas and El Universo. They felt that these media outlets were responsible for the former president’s downfall. Cameraman Juan de Dios Rosales of Ecuavisa was hit in the back of the neck by a rock. This incident took place in the border region between Ecuador and Peru, in the Peruvian town of Aguas Verdes, where Gutiérrez had gone to be near his supporters and out of reach of the Ecuadorean police, who had an arrest warrant against him. On Friday, August 19, journalist Marcos Villamar of the program “La Televisión,” which airs on Ecuavisa, was detained by a group of soldiers from the Ecuadorean Armed Forces outside the Eloy Alfaro Air Base in Manta. He was brought onto the base, where Col. Leonidas Enríquez forced Villamar to show the footage he had taken, looking for anything that might compromise national security. The reporter complied against his will. After showing that the footage consisted only of pan shots, he was released. On August 21, photographer Diógenes Baldeón of El Universo, was physically and verbally attacked by Ernesto Torres, trainer of the soccer teacm Deportivo Quito, when he was taking pictures of a discussion two players were having in the locker room. The two players were blaming each other for allowing a goal. On September 14, Wilfredo Lucero, president of the national Congress, refused to allow Félix Narváes of ECUAVISA into the legislature for a couple of hours. Lucero was annoyed because a few days earlier the journalist had accused him of using the legislature’s money to have his face and hair improved. The official told the media that he had changed his image because of the effect of chemotherapy and he had paid for it out of his own pocket. The channel apologized publicly. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez reacted to an article in the daily El Comercio saying that subversive groups trained in Colombia and Venezuela were taking hold in Ecuador. On October 3, Chávez attacked the Ecuadorean daily, accusing it of joining a campaign against the process of change in Venezuela coordinated by a propaganda office formed by the U.S. government. In an editorial El Comercio rejected these comments as out of context In April, a former prosecutor in Quito, filed a criminal complaint against the editors of the daily La Hora, its administrators and even representatives of the publishing company for a news story reporting pressure by judicial officials in the election of the new Supreme Court. The complaint also demands damages of $1 million. The action is worrisome, since the former prosecutor is very influential in the judiciary and is exerting a lot of pressue in the national prosecutor’s office, where the case is being handled. The requirement of colegio membership to practice journalism continues