The government continues to systematically threaten and insult the press and journalists. On his Saturday radio and television program, the president constantly depicts journalism as causing all the country’s problems. The government’s general attitude toward the press was summarized by President Correa himself, who told the state-controlled newspaper El Telégrafo, “Very few governments have had an opposition as primitive and bloodthirsty as ours. The thing is that it doesn’t express itself through political parties … but they use the press.” This hostile climate has moved to other sectors, in particular, the new legislature, known as the “little congress,” which has restricted the entry of journalists. Meanwhile, the government has been consolidating a block of state-controlled media outlets. So far the government has three broadcast (UHF) television channels (out of six), one VHF channel and one cable station, in addition to a national daily newspaper and several radio stations. As part of the transition period for the new Constitution, a commission was set up to review radio and television frequency concessions. By the end of May the commission is expected to complete its review of all concession contracts signed since 1995. At the time of this report, there were two journalists in prison convicted of making false accusations of a crime: Freddy Aponte of radio station Luz y Vida; and Milton Nelson Chacaguasay, editor and owner of the weekly La Verdad in El Oro province, sentenced to 10 months. Below are the recent developments in chronological order: On September 12, Eduardo Molina, a cameraman for Telesistema channel, was attacked while covering a clash between opposing sides in the referendum. A supporter of the “Yes” side tried to snatch his camera away. On October 7, the same cameraman was attacked while covering a fight between the police and students of Colegio Aguirre Abad in Guayaquil. On the same day the Deposit Guarantee Agency (AGD) reported that 264 assets seized months earlier had been awarded to the state after it was confirmed that they belonged to the Isaías brothers, former stockholders of Filanbanco. On the list were TC Televisión, TV Cable, radio stations Super K 800 and Carrusel and a block of shares of Cable Visión. It said they will be sold as soon as possible. On November 17, the AGD announced that GamaTV, formerly owned by the Isaías group, also will be taken over by the government. On October 15, Daisy Pico, of the daily Expreso¸ said she has been threatened since May of 2008 by Mauricio Montesdeoca Martinetti, alias “The Avenger,” accused of being a hit man in Manabi. On the same day, Germán Vera, cameraman for Telesistema, was beaten by a group of people while covering a dispute among squatters who had taken over land in Hacienda Mercedes near Guayaquil. On October 22, the Legislative and Oversight Commission was opened. It was announced that reporters would not have access to the offices of the secretary general, the president or rooms on the upper floor of the agency. On October 28, María de los Ángeles Duarte, then minister of urban development and housing (Miduvi), said that Playcem International, contractor for a government housing program, had prepared a lawsuit against the daily El Universo for its reports on poorly constructed houses. On November 13, the Telecommunications Office (Supertel) enforced the closure order issued by the National Radio and Television Broadcasting Council (Conartel) against Radio Ritmo of Santa Elena for inciting people to participate in demonstrations supporting the conversion of the canton of Santa Elena to a new province. On November 14, the Internal Revenue Service (SRI) closed Canal Uno for seven days allegedly for not providing tax information. The order only applied to the channel’s offices in Pichincha province. On November 15, Milton Nelson Chacaguasay Flores, the editor and owner of the weekly La Verdad in El Oro province, was sentenced to 10 months in prison for allegedly making a false accusation of a crime against civil judge Silvio Castillo. Chacaguasay maintained that he was not the one who had made the statement in question, as it had appeared in a space paid for by a third party. On November 18, officers at the Guayas traffic authority announced their intention to press charges against comedic actor David Reinoso in response to his portrayal of a character named Buitrón, in which he parodies corrupt traffic officers. No charges have been filed yet. On the same date, Conartel prohibited the broadcast of bullfights on radio or television. On November 20, Conartel censored the broadcast of the talk show “José Luis Sin Censura” (José Luis Uncensored) on Canal Uno. Also on November 20, while Carlos Vallejo, chairman of the board of directors of the Central Bank, was appearing before the Legislative and Supervisory Committee, legislative guards clashed with journalists while attempting to prevent the press from entering. On November 21, the Commission for Oversight of the Concession of Radio and Television Frequencies was established. It will review the legality of concessions awarded between 1995 and 2008. On November 22, Marlon Torres, a correspondent for Radio Sucumbios, was mistreated by Governor Nancy Morocho when he tried to record an altercation in a political meeting. The attendees at the meeting intervened to prevent Torres from being kicked out. On November 25, the government administrators of channel GamaTV, which was seized by the state, resolved not to broadcast the political humor program “Buenos Muchachos,” of Francisco Pinoargotti. Also on November 25, Freddy Aponte Aponte, a journalist for the radio station Luz y Vida in the city of Loja, was notified of a second criminal trial against him for allegedly making a false accusation of a crime against former Mayor José Bolívar Castillo Vivanco. Aponte had been sentenced on September 25 to six months in prison for calling the former mayor a “thief.” On November 27, Javier Molina, former host of the program “Sobremesas de entorno,” broadcast on channel CN3, which was confiscated by the state, reported that his program had been taken off the air. On December 1, the state-controlled Cablenoticias channel permanently closed the program “Mano a Mano” of Francisco Pinoargotti. On December 2, María de los Ángeles Duarte, the minister of urban development and housing, said that journalists “go from town to town paying people off to complain about damage to their homes.” Her words were an attempt to discredit complaints against the government’s low-income housing program. The minister never gave names or said which media outlets these alleged journalists work for. On December 3, Ricardo Antón, executive director of the Guayas Transit Commission (CTG), berated artist Betto Villacis for his painting “Carvux Corax,” which was on exhibit at the Universidad Católica Santiago de Guayaquil. The oil painting showed a vulture with a human body wearing the agency’s uniform. The next day the university’s vice-chancellor had the painting removed. On December 8, Finance Minister María Elsa Viteri threatened legal action against media companies that had published information about a bond issue in the domestic market. On December 12, the tax agency temporarily closed the offices of radio station CRE for alleged nonpayment of taxes. On December 16, Conartel prohibited radio and television stations from broadcasting advertising and programs about psychics. On December 17 the government interrupted the broadcast of the program “Contacto Directo” (Direct Contact) by Carlos Vera on the channel Ecuavisa to transmit a video denying reports that the housing minister had accused journalists of paying people to discredit her. The next day, the program was interrupted again. Vera said the state only has the right to order channels to form a national network to broadcast special announcements, but not to intervene in a privately owned channel. On December 23, journalist Benjamín Córdova of Radio Musical was removed from the Orellana province offices of the ruling PAIS Alliance by a party leader when he was about to interview a government official. On December 24, Marlon Torres of Radio Sucumbíos left Sucumbíos province because of death threats. Torres said he did not know who had made them. The threats began on November 9 after the killing of Juan Bravo, president of the canton’s council. On December 22, two people on a motorcycle followed Torres for almost seven kilometers. On December 30, Paul Gallie, manager of the company Terminales Internacionales de Ecuador, which holds the concession for the port of Manta, gave his written approval to a ban on Nancy Gioconda Vélez Álava of Mantavisión from entering the port facilities. This was in response to her alleged assault of a company security guard on August 28, a charge that the journalist denies. Gallie said the ban would not be lifted until the journalist apologizes for her behavior. On January 3, President Rafael Correa publicly asked the daily El Universo to tell him if it wanted the government advertising assigned to it. A few days later, the newspaper said that the government had been slowly withdrawing its advertising. On January 7, Cléber Barahona, host of the news program “Informativo Mundo” on Radio Mia in Pastaza province, was intimidated by a mob of supporters of Oscar Ledesma, mayor of Pastaza canton, during an interview with the mayor at the radio station. On January 8, residents of Pueblo Nuevo on the road to Molleturo, held the team from the daily El Universal that was covering an indigenous protest against the Mining Law for a couple of hours. On January 10, President Correa said that the daily El Universal belongs to foreign companies. This is allowed under Ecuadorean law and the appropriate authorities have always known it. The president also accused the editor of the paper of paying very low income tax. The Internal Revenue Service has never challenged the editor’s income tax returns. On January 12, a group of female inmates at the Guayaquil prison attacked several reporters who were trying to get statements from young women detained there. On January 17, the president said María Josefa Coronel, anchor of Teleamazonas, was “just a pretty face” who works “for a salary.” He criticized the channel for not paying taxes for several periods. At the same time the president called on the people to boycott El Universal and buy the government newspaper El Telégrafo instead. On January 18, Fabricio Correa Delgado, the older brother of President Correa, said on the program “Detrás de la Noticia” (Behind the News) hosted by Alfredo Pinoargote on Ecuavisa: “I’ve told my brother: If history is going to recognize you it won’t be for the ‘Citizen Revolution,’ it won’t be because you have a doctorate in economics, but rather because you’ll be the first president in the world … to take down the first branch of government, which is the press.” On January 20, Francisco Farinango of community radio station Intipacha was arrested along with demonstrators while covering an indigenous rally against the Mining Law in Pichincha province. Farinango, who was released the next day, said his station received telephone calls demanding that it not broadcast news of the demonstrations. On January 22, the Deposit Guarantee Agency (AGD) denied the appeal of Alvaro Dassum against the confiscation of GamaTV, and the state took possession of the channel. On January 25, Adolfo Caiminagua Herrera, correspondent of Diario Opinión, was arrested and abused by police officers after taking a photograph of a policeman sitting on a bucket in a government vehicle guarding an election site after primary elections of the ruling PAIS Alliance in Pasaje city hall. The journalist was freed without charge after 24 hours. On January 29, the National Radio and Telecommunications Council (Conartel) ordered television channels to ensure that their surveys and polls comply with statistical methodologies that can be verified and make sure they do not cover topics that “negatively affect individuals’ honor, dignity or good name.” The only program that does this type of survey is “Contacto Directo” of Carlos Vera, a well-known opponent of the government, on Ecuavisa. On January 30, Conartel did not renew the frequency concessions of several radio stations. On January 4, two journalists of El Comercio went to the Latin American Human Rights Association (ALDHU) to interview leader Juan de Dios Parra. After answering questions about the group’s agreements with the government, he pointed at them and said in an annoyed tone: “You are the arm of a conspiracy. Maybe you don’t know what you are getting into.” Then he exclaimed: “When it comes out hat this government took money from ALDHU and I go into exile for the fifth time, you will have a bad day and so will I.” On February 11, Ángelo Chamba, a photographer for Diario Hoy, was threatened in Quito by prosecutor Luis Ramiro Sánchez and attacked by a police officer while covering the arrest of journalist Lourdes Garzón and her brother, who was accused of a crime. She was trying to stop his detention. Two police officers put Chamba in a vehicle, abused him and took away his camera, a radio and a cell phone. Later they let him go and returned his belongings. The next day Chamba attended the public hearing where the Garzón siblings testified. Shortly before the end of the hearing, prosecutor Ramiro Sánchez ordered that his camera be confiscated and the memory card reviewed. On March 6, José Toledo, the vice president of the news division of three television channels that the government had confiscated months before (GamaTV, TC Televisión and CN3 Cablenoticias), resigned. He admitted that there is political pressure for these media outlets to favor government candidates in April’s elections in their coverage. Also on March 6, the election authorities approved a set of guidelines for electoral ads. Article 15 of these guidelines holds media outlets solely responsible for campaign ads that allegedly incite violence, discrimination, racism, drug addiction, sexism, religious or political intolerance, or otherwise infringe on people’s rights. In other words, media outlets would be forced to interpret the content of political campaign ads, which should be the sole responsibility of candidates. Under Ecuador’s Constitution, any illegal campaign activity is reviewed and addressed by the National Elections Council and the Electoral Court. On March 10, President Correa told El Telégrafo newspaper, “Very few governments have had an opposition as primitive and bloodthirsty as ours. It doesn’t express itself through political parties … but they use the press.”