Report to the IAPA

March 28, 2020


Journalists and media were victims of aggressions in October following a day of protests due to economic measures announced by the federal government which implemented an elimination of a fuel subsidy.

Several press teams were attacked by the National Police as they were covering the protests and a general stoppage of activities throughout the country, in which there took part several transport groups, natives, unions, students and citizens in general.

In the face of a claim by the media and press groups Government Minister María Paula Romo promised to carry out an investigation into the inadequate use of the police force and guaranteed the work of the press. Subsequently, on October 11, President Lenín Moreno decreed a state of exception to protect the rights of the citizens and avoid the destabilization of the country.

On October 8 agents of the National Police and the Attorney General's Office carried out a raid on the installations of Radio Pichincha Universal, located in Quito, with the objective of "obtaining information about the alleged offense of incitement to discord among citizens." Radio Pichincha Universal belongs to the Provincial Council of Pichincha, a state entity headed by Paola Pavón, a member of Rafael Correa's political movement. Radio Pichincha Universal and Pichincha Comunicaciones usually broadcast anti-government propaganda.

On October 11 in Quito demonstrators attacked the installations of Teleamazonas and El Comercio, throwing a bomb into them and setting fire to a vehicle inside the building.

Pichincha Comunicaciones reported on Facebook that it accepted the action of protection of it and the judge in the case ordered the lifting of the suspension of activities requested by the Agency of Regulations and Control of Telecommunications (ARCOTEL). However, in mid-January ARCOTEL, through a resolution, decided on the extinction of the qualifying title of Radio Pinchincha Universal, a public broadcast station of the Pichincha Provincial Government. The IACHR Special Rapporteur expressed his concern at the action.

In November the Churo and Wambra foundation denounced before the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights the stigmatization of digital, community and alternative media on the part of journalists and commercial news media, as well as attacks that prevented them from publishing information about the October protests.

In February the opinion Web site 4Pelagatos was sued in Holland, where is located its server, for using the image of President Moreno. The lawsuit was submitted by Juan Carlos Chávez Cevallos, a technician of the Presidency's Synthesis and Alerts Directorate. The government then denied alleged censorship of the press.

Other aggresions in this period:

On October 3 several journalists were attacked during the national strike: Freddy Toapanta, Teleamazonas cameraman, was run over by a taxi driver while he was carrying out a live broadcast in Quito; Julio Estrella of was kicked by unifomed men who were protected by helmets, boots and shields; Daniel Molineros of the API Agency, was attacked by agents of the National Police as he was covering the demonstrations in Quito; Diego Pallero, photographer of El Comercio, and Roberto Rueda of Expreso, were also beaten as they were covering the marches in the center of the capital city.

That same day there was registered an aggression by police on the TVC team in Quito. Camila Santillán and Yasser Quevedo, film students at UARTES in Guayaquil, were detained as they were filming the social protests.

On October 8 El Universo reporter Ronald Cedeño was assaulted by a motorcyclist of the National Police in Guayaquil and reporter Belén Zapata of El Universo complained that a group of people followed and insulted her.

On November 27 Fundamedios denounced that journalists Luis Eduardo Vivanco and Anderson Boscan of the digital media La Posta were threatened after their declarations about the indigenous movement.