During the past three months the rejection has become more and more evident of official attempts to throttle freedom of expression, which has even been manifested in some momentary democratic victories The answer of the government, however, far from accepting these pronouncements, has been to redouble its offensive, with new and more dangerous threats. The attacks have appeared on three fronts: First, the government party continued its attempts to achieve passage of its Communications Law. The differences among the majority legislative block and rejection by public opinion resulted in a debate that stalled for several weeks. In recent days, and in surprising manner, the majority lawmakers have proposed a new version of the law that includes important changes, such as that to require owners of media outlets to request formal authorization from the State to sell their shares to third parties. Along this same line, President Rafael Correa is trying to take further advantage of the debate on the Organic Law on Citizen Participation through a partial veto, to include in that text the obligation of the media to give account to citizens at last once a year, supported for this purpose by the argument that the media provide a “public service.” It is necessary to have the vote of three fourths of the Assembly to override the veto. Secondly, the Superintendency of Telecommunications closed down the Teleamazonas channel for three days, but in following days the Court of Pichincha, at the second level, found that this provision had violated the law and the Constitution, which opened the possibility that the media should demand economic reparations from the State. Thus, telecommunications authorities decided not to close down Radio Arutam. At any rate, the investigation continues against the managers of the radio station accused of promoting subversion. Third, the government continues to create new communications media. A new official press agency was inaugurated and the design was begun for a new newspaper intended to reach a lower-class audience. This last move provoked public rejection, even from the directors of the government paper El Telégrafo, showing that there is no unanimity among officials. With these two new media outlets, the regime would have control of three newspapers, seven radio stations, four topical magazines, a news agency, and six television channels (three have an open signal with national reach, two are pay channels, and one is UHF). The insults and offenses of President Correa have continued, almost without changing tone, normally occupying the segment called “Freedom of Expression belongs to everyone” on his weekly program. The President has recognized that at a popular level that particular segment is beginning to be known as the “Saturday insults.” Other events of note that have occurred during this period: On October 28, Giancarlo Zunino and Felix Pilco, president and vice-president of the New Civic Board of Guayaquil, were arrested for placing banners saying “Guayaquil declares President Rafael Correa a persona non grata.” They were released a week later. On December 3, the National Assembly passed a tax of 12% on newsprint and magazine paper. On that same day and for the second time this year, an explosive device detonated at the facilities of Teleamazonas. On December 8, a national government network program attacked reporters Jorge Ortiz and Bernardo Abad, of Teleamazonas; Alfonso Espinoza of Monteros and Alfredo Pinoargote, of Ecuavisa; Emilio Palacio, of El Universo, and the former commentator Carlos Vera. In addition, the newspapers El Comercio, Extra and Hoy, of Ecuador were criticized, along with El Pais from Spain, Radio Caracol in Colombia, and the IAPA, at the same time disseminating propaganda in favor of the Communications Law bill. On December 9, the Secretariat of Communications began to show a television commercial in which a snake that represents a news program attacks a citizen from the television set. An off-screen voice says “More respect. Freedom to slander, no! Freedom of expression, yes!” On that same day there was a national government network broadcast of a program in which university students criticize newsman Jorge Ortiz of Teleamazonas. On December 12, President Correa challenges Francisco Vivanco, director of the newspaper La Hora, to demonstrate that the government obliges the media to broadcast his weekly program, by distributing or taking away advertising, and threatening to sue him again. On December 15, various leaders of blocks in the National Assembly of the majority and opposition parties come to an agreement concerning the Communications Law bill. Among their consensus is the idea that the law will allow the Board of Communications and Information to continue to exist, which may administratively suspend programs or messages that affect the reputation of others, national security, public order, or public health or morals. That same day, the National Telecommunications Council (Conatel) cancelled the license for the frequency held by La Voz de Arutam, of Sucúa, Morona Santiago, with the argument that the outlet had incited violence during an indigenous strike. On December 22, Supertel closed down Teleamazonas for 72 hours, for having transmitted a “news report based on suppositions” in reference to gas exploration on the island of Puna and which may have caused “public commotion.” On January 9, President Correa called El Universo a “rag” for having questioned in an editorial the Committees of the Citizen Revolution (CRC). Minutes later a group of persons identified with such committees blocked entry to the offices of that newspaper in Guayaquil for several hours. On the same day the police held Pedro Almeida, an ex-representative of the Patriotic Society Party (PSP) for almost seven hours for exhibiting a poster that read “I do not fear you... Braggart!” in the area near location of the president’s Saturday broadcast. On January 15, reporter Peter Tavra Franco of El Universo was sentenced to six months in prison and a fine of $ 3,000 in a slander suit which put him up against Monica Carrera (accused of human smuggling) who remains at large for the note titled “Coyote under arrest fled from a clinic.” The first-level judge had thrown out the suit and freed the reporter of liability. On January 17, unknown persons entered the home of Alfredo Negrete in Quito, Executive Director of the Ecuatorian Association of Journalists (Aedep). The place was looked over carefully, but the only items missing were some objects of little value. In his opinion column in Hoy, Osmar Ospina questioned the exaggerated coverage that the official media have given to the traffic accident in which the editor of that newspaper, Jaime Mantilla, was involved. According to Opsina, more than 60 segments on TV newscasts by government-controlled stations covered the incident. On January 19, Carlos Rodriguez, a reporter for Diario Opinión, of the city of Machala, was verbally attacked by Antonio Jurado, Provincial Director of Health, and two guards from the place. A reporter from the local station channel Caravana TV, Maritza Castillo, complained about the permanent blockage of the press to that state office complex. On January 26, Mauricio Rodas, director of the Ethos Foundation, reported that in 2009 Correa’s government had the greatest number of national network hook-ups in Latin America with 233. The Chavez government is next with 142 and in third place is Ortega of Nicaragua, with fewer than 100 such broadcasts. On that same day, the director of the official newspaper El Telégrafo, Rubén Montoya, expressed his rejection of an order issued by the President of the Republic that the newspaper collaborate in starting up a new sensationalist popular-type paper that would be a propaganda arm of the government. On January 26, the National Telecommunications Council (Conatel) decided not to sanction the radio station La Voz de Arutam, owned by the Shuar-Achuar Federation. However, the investigation of four individuals will continue, including the president of the Federation, José Acacho, who are accused of promoting violence. On January 27, President Correa berated citizen Carlos Julio Solano in Machala because he had supposedly made obscene gestures against the Chief of State. Then the police arrested him. Correa denied that he was the instigator of the arrest order. On January 28, an official government network program was broadcast exclusively for the purpose of criticizing editorials in El Universo. On February 1 the Court of Pichincha ordered the State to pay compensation to Teleamazonas for having suspended its operations illegally. On February 2, a note titled “Board did not decide on the project of a popular newspaper” which should have been published on page 4 of the section “Latest News” of the government paper El Telégrafo, was cut at the last minute. The director of the newspaper reported that he was unaware of who gave the order. The news item could be read on the Internet but the print version was replaced by newspaper publicity. On February 11 the Civil Aviation Board prohibited all overflights by private planes and smaller aviation in Guayaquil, thus preventing the communications media from recording areal images of the march called by the mayor of that city, Jaime Nebot, who opposes the regime. On February 12, the chair of the Communications Commission of the Assembly, Betty Carrillo (PAIS), asked for an extension of 45 days to present its report for a second debate on the Media Law; however, five days later the period was extended to 90 days. On February 13 the leaders of the Barcelona Sporting Club prohibited Carlos Victor Morales from entering the Monumental Stadium of because of his criticism of the president of that club in various media outlets to which the reporter contributes. On February 17, the Council of Judges (CJ) sanctioned with a fine of $340 the judges of the First Criminal Court of Pichincha who had found in favor of Teleamazonas. For such purpose the Council reactivated an old lawsuit that weighed against the magistrates in a case of embezzlement that was about to expire. The organization could not remove the judges because they did not get the seven votes that the law requires. On February 20 President Correa attacked the newspaper El Comercio for the editorial of that day which speaks of the inclusion of Ecuador on the list of “uncooperative jurisdictions” in the fight against laundering of assets. The head of state affirmed that the paper “makes me sick” and called it “unpatriotic.” On March 8, 2010, President Correa partially vetoed the Organic Law on Citizen Participation. With the argument that the communications media provide a public service, the President asked for their inclusion in the accountability that citizens may request once a year. Even so, it would oblige the media to create spaces for citizen training. Betty Carrillo, chair of the Communication Commission, proposed that the Communications Board under that law should be made up by a representative of the Ministry of Education and one from the Ministry of Culture, among others, under the argument that “it is not possible to generate public policy at the edge of a state structure,” a proposal that goes against the agreement reached among the heads of the legislative factions on December 17. The Assembly members should send comments on the bill by April 5 so that they can be considered for the second and final debate, which still does not have a date set. Also, on March 8, reporter Jorge Ortiz expressed his concern about the continued interruptions of programming on Teleamazonas on the part of the national government during the morning newscast, stating that there exists an abusive attitude in using the national television networks as political spaces and to denigrate people. The interruptions of Ortiz’s program total four so far this year. On March 12, Minister of Coordination of Economic Policy, Diego Borja, spoke out against the newspaper El Comercio for an article concerning doubts in regard to figures on monetary reserves and the problems of securing credits and loans for the country. “This article should be called lies and ignorance of El Comercio... the person who wrote this is a complete ignoramus, or someone who wants to cause alarm.”