13 June 2013

IAPA protests pressure campaign against Ecuador’s newspaper Hoy

Miami (June 13, 2013)—A campaign by the government of Ecuador aimed at putting pressure on and discrediting the newspaper Hoy was denounced today by the Inter American Press Association (IAPA), which expressed its support for the newspaper and its editor, Jaime Mantilla, who is also IAPA’s President. Since late last month the Communication Secretariat (Secom) within Ecuador’s Presidency has been waging an intense campaign to discredit the Quito-based newspaper through government newspapers, national radio and television networks.  This appears to have its origin in a report by the AFP news agency of May 31, that Hoy headlined “ Correa describes homosexual marriage as a fad.” According to the government the headline seriously distorted the article. The newspaper on June 4 published a letter from National Communication Secretary Fernando Alvarado Espinel in which he said that the headline “does not correspond to the truth.” Hoy stated that the paper “did not distort the report.” The official attacks on the newspaper have been increasing. In a recent Saturday nationwide hookup President Rafael Correa warned that if the paper did not issue a correction “we will go to court”, and this past week several national radio and television networks aired broadcasts which said “it is reported” that “up to now Hoy has not rectified the lie nor published the truth as the Constitution demands …. We continue to count the hours until the truth is published.” The chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Claudio Paolillo, declared that the IAPA “is very familiar with the aggressive style used by the government to confront those that criticize its actions and that maintain an independent journalistic stance.” Paolillo, editor of the Montevideo, Uruguay, weekly Búsqueda, referred to the report on Ecuador presented at the IAPA Midyear Meeting in March, in which it was stated, “The Executive Branch is the main promoter of the changes and, in addition, maintains an extremely hostile discourse against the media, journalists and those who are its strongest critics. There is constant use of public resources through radio and television networks to riposte to politicians, journalists and activists in general.” On the occasion of its 31st anniversary Hoy on June 7 ran an editorial in which it recounted the “gradual actions to destroy its financial situation” applied by the government of President Correa. Among these Hoy mentioned that several years ago the Communication Department prohibited “government and related entities” from advertising in the newspaper. In addition, the government cancelled subscriptions and contracts with the newspaper. The editorial also stated that “the economic, political and social pressures have continued against the newspaper, its editor and other associates.” Editor Jaime Mantilla “has faced great pressures and judgments” and has been the victim of discrediting campaigns. On a number of occasions President Correa has expressed his wish that the newspaper shut down, because “almost nobody reads it” and for being “at the edge of bankruptcy.” In a new note from Alvarado Espinel on June 10, he refuted Hoy’s contention concerning the various actions taken by the government against the newspaper to harm it financially. In a sarcastic tone he said that “it is just an excuse which shows the growing lack of trust of its readers due to its articles not being based on the truth.” Alvarado Espinel added that he would make his note public because, he said, “the people deserve the truth and not the lies that are constantly divulged by those belonging to the newspaper association, ADEP (Ecuadorean Association of Newspaper Editors and Publishers) and the IAPA cartel.” Paolillo said, “The disrespectful style used by the representative of the government is regrettable, however in this case we are not surprised by the use of insulting words and mockery when debating.” The IAPA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida. For more information please go to http://www.sipiapa.org.