Report to the Midyear Meeting
April 20-23, 2021

In this period, the press was not exempt from pressures and aggressions during the run-off electoral campaign between the two presidential candidates, the conservative Guillermo Lasson and the leftist Andrés Arauz. A scandal over the Covid-19 vaccination process led to the resignation of two health ministers, Juan Carlos Zevallos and Mauro Falconí. In the Quito mayoral crisis, the Mayor, Jorge Yunda, has been questioned for several corruption scandals.

Several journalists and analysts were victims of attacks and insults in the midst of the dirty campaigns waged during the elections. Journalist Alondra Santiago and professor Fernando Casado were attacked on social networks, while other journalists were attacked on Twitter by former president Rafael Correa.

The reforms to the Organic Law of Communication eliminated economic sanctions and fines imposed on media outlets and journalists. However, the use of crimes categorized in the Organic Integral Penal Code (COIP) to intimidate journalists continues.

Among the most important events, the following stand out:

On March 21, a cyber-attack took down the website of the portal Periodismo de Investigación. According to those in charge of the portal, the attack occurred after the publication of a report on alleged irregularities in the campaign financing of the UNES ticket, Andrés Arauz and Carlos Rabascal.

On March 22, took place the most recent proceeding related to the criminal accusation for the crime of "dissemination of restricted information," brought by José Ricardo Hidalgo Ottolenghi - rector of the Universidad Tecnológica Equinoccial (UTE) - against Kléber Mantilla - columnist of La Hora newspaper - for the publication of a tweet about the $7.2 million the UTE owes the Ecuadorian Institute of Social Security (IESS) and the Social Security Institute of the National Police (ISSPOL).

In January, the columnist gave his voluntary statement in which he refused to reveal his sources. On January 25, he got a request from the Attorney General's Office to hand over his cell phone within 72 hours - with the purpose of finding out how he got the information.

On March 23, the information director of the newspaper La Hora Tungurahua was reported criminally and accused of a criminal offense for "discredit or dishonor" by Patricio Sarabia - former mayor of the town of Píllaro, province of Tungurahua, and former candidate to the Assembly for the SUMA party. The process uses the expedited procedure established in the Penal Code - whose sanction is 15 to 30 days in jail. The judge accepted the case and scheduled a hearing to be held on April 29.

On March 24, it was reported that the Spanish professor and political analyst, Fernando Casado, received several insults and xenophobic messages on his social network accounts.

On March 26, journalist Alondra Santiago - a contributor to the Teleradio media - was the victim of sexist and xenophobic attacks on her Twitter account, after posting a comment referring to her 16 years of living in the country.

On March 30, at the IESS hospital in Los Ceibos, Gelitza Robles - a journalist from the newspaper Expreso - was prevented from covering news at the hospital by guards who claimed she did not have authorization to do so.

On April 9, Eduardo Andino - a journalist from Gamatv television channel - was fired from the media due to a remark criticizing the way in which the Covid-19 vaccination process was being carried out.

On April 13, after an abrupt interruption of the City Council session by the mayor of Quito, Jorge Yunda, metropolitan police officers attacked journalist Stephany Paz - from the Teleamazonas channel.