Ecuador’s “Transparency and Access to Information Law” was enacted May 18 of this year and represents a step forward in freedom of the press and freedom of expression. The main journalists’ organizations have spoken positively about the new law, and in particular about the efforts by Congress and the President to ensure its passage. However, the law cannot yet be fully enforced because the President, Lucio Gutiérrez, must first issue regulations for its implementation. The law is based on a proposal that the Ecuadoran Association of Newspaper Editors presented to Congress at the end of 2002. At the request of President Lucio Gutiérrez, the Association proposed draft regulations for implementation of the law. Other organizations submitted additional proposals. Several instances of the media’s troubled relationship with the government merit mention: One is a government bill that would force journalists accused of reporting “half-truths” to testify under oath; another is a threat to enact a law against rumors. There is also the constant attack against the so-called “mediacracy” — the President’s term for the political power supposedly wielded by the news media. Here are the most salient recent developments: Two reporters and four cameramen were held hostage for a week, together with 80 other people, during protests mounted by prisoners throughout the country’s jails in April. Two television stations suspended on-the-scene coverage to protest the captivity of their staff members. On April 16, Doctor Fernando Romero of Carlos Andrade Marín Hospital in Quito beat up reporter Marcos Villamar and cameraman Patricio Ayala of the program “La Televisión,” broadcast by Ecuavisa. The two men were out covering another story when they happened upon two policemen acting as “facilitators” (taking money to speed the processing of paperwork). Reporter José Solís Solís filed a criminal complaint with the Prosecutor’s Office on April 29, saying he had received threats from persons who have yet to be identified. Solís, who works for El Universo of Guayaquil, has reported on the Fybeca case, in which a muddled police operation left a number of people dead — including both suspected criminals and innocent victims. In early August, Teleamazonas reporter Cristian Zurita and his crew were shot at when they were in Riobamba videotaping near the El Trébol estate, which is owned by Judge Vicente Altamirano of the Fourth Criminal Court of Pichincha. In a criminal complaint filed with the courts, the reporter stated that the attack was carried out by the judge’s wife, Yolanda Chiriboga, together with two of her female employees. The reporter was looking into the judge’s land holdings, in order to compare them to the judge’s Sworn Statement of Assets. On September 16, President Gutiérrez accused reporters from El Universo, El Comercio, Ecuavisa and Teleamazonas of lying and of reporting “half-truths.” The President claimed that El Universo was lying in a report that claimed he used state resources for his personal transportation and to campaign on behalf of candidates from his party, the Patriotic Society Party. The day after the President’s statement, the newspaper published a series of photographs showing the President surrounded by his followers and holding political propaganda in his hand. The President responded by saying that his supporters had handed the literature to him, and not the other way around. The head of the Presidential Communications Office, Iván Oña, announced that the government was going to start citing journalists who report “half-truths” about the government, obliging them to testify under oath. Congressman Luis Villacís called on Oña to testify under oath about what the government hoped to gain by forcing journalists to testify under oath. At the request of President Gutiérrez, the Prosecutor’s Office opened a preliminary investigation into the director of Quito radio station Visión, Diego Oquendo. The President claimed that Oquendo’s statements were inflammatory and undermined public order. On September 8, during an interview with Patricio Acosta, a former Gutiérrez Cabinet minister, the reporter asked: “Is it true that the FARCS, then known as the FARC , gave money to the Gutiérrez campaign? I’m a well-informed man; I know the FARC gave money to Colonel Gutiérrez for his campaign.” At the request of the Federal Prosecutor, the journalist turned over a taped copy of the program. The Governor of Azuay, Marcelo Batallas, stated in October that the government had ordered all governors to compile personal information about the journalists working in their provinces. He said this was supposed to “facilitate the resolution of differences, given the problems that have arisen with various media outlets.”