Threats against freedom of expression, which have continued over recent months, became much worse after September 30, the day on which the National Police and part of the Armed Forces rose up against President Rafael Correa. On that day, all media were ordered to suspend their broadcasts and retransmit the official network, “without interruption and indefinitely,” so that citizens could only be aware of the regime’s version of events. Since then, a number of citizens have been intimidated or detained in an illegal manner for expressing their disagreement with the official position of an attempt at a coup d’état or for having said that they supported the complaints of the police. The accused have not been guaranteed their right of due process. One of the most serious cases is that of the director of the Police Hospital, where the president was interned on that day. The head of state accused him of participating in an “attempted murder” against him almost a month after the events, and only hours after the doctor had told CNN that he had never seen anyone threaten Correa with a weapon. The president has said that the government “unfortunately” does not control all of the media, which makes one believe that the project to pass a communications law from his regime could be accelerated. Its preparation was suspended after a letter was sent in July by the spokesperson for freedom of expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, in which she expressed her concern over the provisions that the legal text was to include. On October 29, the Commission announced that a delegation from the organization would visit Ecuador before the National Assembly could pass the bill in order to follow the debate closely. Other relevant events in chronological order: On March 25, Rubén Montoya, director of the newspaper El Telégrafo, which had been taken over by the government, was removed for “bad business management and losses recorded” during his management. Days later, the assistant director Carol Murillo and 21 opinion columnists quit, the latter by means of a manifesto in which they denounced “acts of censorship and violation of the rights to freedom of the press and expression.” On May 1, the president began an address by affirming that newspaper hawkers are “very exploited people” and that the newspapers should pay the value added tax and not the sellers. On May 19, Carlos Delgado, a reporter for the newspaper El Mercurio of Manta, was hospitalized one day after the reporter revealed that he had been attacked and imprisoned by several police officers after taking pictures of people who were being arrested on the beach. In June, during the Soccer World Cup, the government unleashed an aggressive publicity campaign against the media, showing images of snakes and gunshots to represent the contents of newscasts. Different sectors criticized the campaign, but the president responded: “I am very pleased… because this reflects quite well the feeling, this anger that we citizens have, when we see certain abuses carried out by certain media, not all of them. We are giving them back a little bit of their own medicine.” On July 1, the appropriate committee of the National Assembly delivered its favorable opinion on the majority of the communications law bill. The next step should be its approval by the full Assembly, a process that has been put off indefinitely. Days later, the spokesperson for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), Catalina Botero, send a letter to the president of the Assembly, Fernando Cordero, in which she criticized the “ambiguous reaction” to several articles of the bill that could serve to “give discretional power to control authorities” over the communication system. The spokesperson also criticized the intention to impose a university degree as a condition to practice journalism and the creation of a Communication Council. Human Rights Watch, in another letter, expressed similar concerns. On July 4, each of the newspapers El Comercio, El Universo, Expreso, Hoy, and El Diario of Manabí, among others, sent letters to the Secretary of Communication, Fernando Alvarado, requesting that he identify the “thief media” which foster the violence mentioned in the government propaganda transmitted during the Soccer World Cup. Alvarado refused to provide this information. On August 12, the Banking Board modified the constitutional provision that prohibits persons affiliated with the financial sector to hold shares in communications media at the same time. In this action, the Board broadened the prohibition to include spouses or blood relatives to the fourth degree or second degree of non-blood kinship to shareholders, members of boards of directors, legal representatives, and those with power of attorney of any banking institution. At the same time, it authorized participation in the ownership of a media company may exist only when it is less than 25% of capital. Later on, the National Assembly threatened to investigate the resolution. The Banking Board then changed its posture. Now shareholders and representatives of the banks, their spouses and blood relatives to the second degree, or non-blood relatives to the first degree, may not hold any shares in media companies. On August 20, an arrest order was issued against Juan Alcívar, a correspondent for the newspaper La Hora in La Concordia, who was being accused by the Prosecutors’ Office of terrorism because he supposedly threw a teargas bomb during a meeting of President Correa. In order to issue the arrest order, a statement that had been made by an employee of the Municipality of La Concordia was crucial. The mayor of that city had criticized Alcívar harshly in recent months for his news reports. Alcívar went into hiding, stating that there were no guarantees of fair treatment. On September 13, the arrest order was replaced by an obligation to appear in court within fifteen days. On August 27, journalist Jorge Ortiz of Teleamazonas made his final appearance on his television program. He explained that he had decided to “take a step back in order not to be an obstacle in the sale of the channel.” Ownership in Telelamazonas is likely to change ownership because the new constitution prohibits bankers from holding shares in media companies. On August 31, journalist Juan Carlos Calderón, co-author with Cristian Zurita of the book El Gran Hermano reported that an employee of the Prosecutors’ Office had asked for his address by telephone and that of his companion in order to “send you a notification.” The book El Gran Hermano tells of contracts that the government had with Fabricio Correa, brother of the President of the Republic. On September 6, the government took one more media outlet into its fold with the morning paper, PP El Verdadero. “Let’s all buy El Verdadero and begin to eliminate those lucrative companies that say they do communications but in truth really only want to defend their own business interests,” said President Correa days before the action. On September 10, the Third Judge of Criminal Guarantees in Loja, Humberto Aguilera, ordered freezing and embargoing the bank account of journalist Freddy Aponte, accused by the former mayor of Loja, José Bolívar Castillo, of alleged slanderous libel. On September 17 the Minister of Public Works, María de los Ángeles Duarte, demanded withholding distribution of the book El Gran Hermano, in which she is mentioned, and to “recover” any copies that had already been sold. On September 30, around noon, all of the private radio and television stations were required to join an “uninterrupted” network headed by Ecuador TV and Radio Pública. Two stations did not join the network: Radio La Luna, owned by Paco Velasco, an assemblyman in the government party, and Radio Municipal of Quito, affiliated with the government and dependent on the mayor. Both stations carried programming similar to that of the network. Then the government attempted to justify that decision with the argument that a state of exception had gone into effect, in spite of the fact that the network started up before that decree was issued and that it did not meet the constitutional requirement of specifying just which freedoms were to be restricted. Early in the evening of that same September 30, a group of persons violently entered the set of Ecuador TV to demand that non-governmental groups be allowed to express their point of view on what was happening. Later that night, Ecuavisa and Teleamazonas abandoned the network to display images of the armed incursion at the Police Hospital where the president was located. The organization Fundamedios recorded 22 cases of aggression against journalists from public and private media, in Quito and in other cities, on September 30. In some cases, the police involved in the uprising obligated reporters to give up the contents of their television and still cameras. The most serious case is that of Antonio Narváez, cameraman for Ecuavisa, who was struck by a rubber bullet. Ecuavisa also revealed that a group of police tried to cut off the transmission of the channel by attacking personnel at the antenna site at the base of the Pichincha volcano in Quito. A similar denunciation was made by the government channel Ecuador TV. On October 5, the newspaper Hoy of Quito received in writing the information that by order of the Secretariat of Communication of the Presidency, there exists a governmental prohibition that applies to all public companies and government entities against advertising in that newspaper. Hoy said that for more than a year it has been suffering under that prohibition. On October 12, Andrea Romero, a reporter for Teleamazonas, was attacked by an unknown person while she was covering a police operation at a market in the city of Quito. On October 15, various congressmen from the opposition party submitted an appeal for protection against the President of the Republic, the Secretary of Public Administration, and the Secretary of Communication, based on the radio and television network set up on September 30 that was “indefinite and uninterrupted.” The Third Judge of Criminal Guarantees, Gladys Terán, denied the protective order on October 28. On October 16, the president of the Banco Pichincha, Fidel Egas, reported that ownership of Teleamazonas and Dinediciones (publisher of the magazines Mundo Diners, Fucsia, Soho, and Gestión) would be distributed among a number of workers and employees of the channel, a group of friends, and the group that publishes the daily La República in Peru. Three days later, the president of the Assembly, Fernando Cordero, confirmed that the transfer of shares in Teleamazonas could be a case of a “straw man,” for which reason the operation was being investigated. On October 18, government sympathizers intimidated Félix Narváez and the news team of Ecuavisa that was covering incidents between family members of the police involved in the uprising and government sympathizers in front of the Carondelet Palace. On October 21, Ricardo Patiño, Chancellor of Ecuador and executive secretary of the government party, when asked about the reasons behind the September 30 network, expressed: “We are not so stupid as to the media attack us, even though we unfortunately do not have control over them.” Later on, he added that lt it is normal in a revolutionary process such as the one they are trying to impose for there to be as many victims as the September 30 rebellion produced, 10 dead and more than 200 wounded. On October 23, President Correa ordered that the director of the National Police Hospital, Colonel César Carrión, be fired and tried for having stated in an interview that he had not seen anyone threatening the head of state with a weapon on September 30. A few days later, on October 27, the colonel was imprisoned on the charge of “attempted murder” of the president. He is currently carrying out a 90-day order of imprisonment while the case is being investigated. On October 25, the president reported that he will not include on his web page the names, travel costs received, and other information on government workers for reasons of security, something that clearly is in violation of the Law on Access to Information currently in effect. On October 29, representatives of Fundamedios and the AEDEP (Ecuadoran Association of Newspaper Publishers) were received by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) for the purpose of expressing their observations on the Communications Law bill and on the denunciations and attacks against journalists and communications media. A delegation from official entities (the government, National Assembly, Prosecutors’ Office) also expressed their arguments. The IACHR reminded people that Ecuador has committed itself to decriminalizing crimes related to freedom of expression, but the representative of the National Assembly acknowledged that the matter has not been followed up. At the end of the dialog, the Commission requested information on aggression against journalists and agreed that a delegation from the organization would travel to Ecuador in January before approval of the bill in order to follow the debate closely.