Report to the Midyear Meeting 2023
April, 25-27

Security forces and public servants continued to intimidate the media and journalists during this period through verbal and physical attacks.

The official Communication Council counted 11 attacks against media and 45 aggressions against journalists in 2023. Most correspond to obstruction of journalistic work, cyber harassment, verbal aggression, attacks, censorship, cyber attack, harassment, stigmatization, theft or elimination of journalistic material, kidnapping, and damage to private property.

President Guillermo Lasso has harshly attacked the press. On February 1, during a ceremony to change senior police commanders, the president criticized the media because "they confuse freedom of expression with debauchery."

He accused the digital media La Posta of a campaign of attacks and slander. The press denounced, with documents and audios, several government officials and Lasso's brother-in-law, Danilo Carrera, for alleged acts of corruption and drug trafficking. Lasso criticized the media, saying that these were "falsehoods that seek to create chaos in the country" and an "abuse of freedom of expression," referring to the media allegations about the illegal financing of his electoral campaign and his links with businessman Rubén Cherres, who is associated with drug trafficking.

Public insecurity and the crime wave are the main concerns in the country. There were 4,603 violent deaths reported in 2022 and 815 in this first quarter.

This crime affected the media and journalists. For example, the headquarters of Sono Onda radio station in Portoviejo was attacked with firearms. In addition, criminals destroyed the vehicle of journalist Julio Ramos in an attack.

There was also a new attack on media and journalists using USB memory sticks with explosives.

On March 15, the director of Exa FM, Álvaro Rosero, denounced an attack with a USB flash drive addressed to journalist Miguel Rivadeneira. The Judicial Police confirmed that the device contained explosive material.

On March 20, journalist Lenin Artieda of Ecuavisa, Guayaquil, received an envelope with a pen drive which exploded when he inserted it into his computer. Artieda was unharmed by the attack.

The general manager of TC Televisión, Rafael Cuesta, also reported that he received a pen drive addressed to journalist Mauricio Ayora, which also contained explosive material, according to the authorities.

There was also an increase in assaults and robberies of journalists during their coverage. In January, journalists of Te Veo Ecuador were assaulted by armed criminals. In March, in Durán, and in April, in Guayaquil, several Teleamazonas journalists were robbed at gunpoint.

Reporter José Luis Calderón and cameraman Pedro Maruri of TC Televisión were assaulted in Guayaquil. Vinces TV channel, from Huaquillas, El Oro province, decided to change its editorial line due to insecurity.

The digital media GK reported sending communicator Karol Noroña out of the country because she received threats for her coverage of the prison crisis and organized crime.

In December, the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations (UN) held the Ecuadorian government responsible for the violation of the human rights to freedom of expression and adequate judicial protection of journalist Emilio Palacio Urrutia and the brothers Carlos Pérez Barriga, César Pérez Barriga and Nicolás Pérez Lapentti, directors and shareholders of the newspaper El Universo. The decision stems from the complaint that the Pérez brothers filed on February 26, 2016, and expanded in 2018. The Committee demanded the State comply with a "comprehensive reparation" that includes "adequate compensation" and an "effective judicial remedy."

Other relevant events during this period.

On November 7, the digital media Radio Pichincha, in Quito, and Un café con JJ, in Guayaquil, suffered cyber attacks.

On December 24, in Portoviejo, Manabí province, the facilities of radio Sono Onda were attacked with several shots.

On January 10, journalist Dayanna Monroy denounced harassment on her social media by the son of former president Abdala Bucaram, Jacobo, investigated by the Attorney General's Office for irregular marketing of medical supplies to the Hospital of the Ecuadorian Social Security Institute (IESS) in Guayaquil.

On January 17, journalist Sofía Weir and cameraman Bryan Ballesteros of Te Veo Ecuador were assaulted with a gun during coverage in Esmeraldas.

On January 23, independent journalist Blanca Moncada said that members of the Metropolitan Police included her in a list of detractors of the city's mayor.

On February 2, the extreme right candidate for mayor of Quito, Pedro Freile, attacked the digital media GK, which he considers a mouthpiece of Correism. Freile expressed in a threatening tone: "You are becoming a red circle that will have to be extirpated."

On February 5, a news team from the newspaper Expreso was prevented in Guayaquil from working in the command center of Mayor Cinthya Viteri of the PSC party.

On February 6, a group of sympathizers of a political organization attacked the home of journalist Juan Alcívar, of the digital media JAR TV, in La Concordia (Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas province).

On February 9, former president Rafael Correa attacked journalists Martín Pallares and Christian Zurita on Twitter, accusing them of being biased.

On March 2, the digital media Wambra, in Quito, was the victim of a computer attack.

On March 10 in Babahoyo, Los Ríos province, journalist Julio César Ramos was attacked, and his vehicle was set on fire.

On April 1, journalists of the digital media La Posta denounced threats against Anderson Boscán and Luis Eduardo Vivanco, founders of that platform, by the Albanian mafia.

On April 5, journalists Jefferson Santos and Joseph Cueva of the digital media Portada TV of Puyo, Pastaza province, received threatening calls and messages after publishing a report on sexual abuse in an educational establishment.

On April 11, journalists Vanessa Robles and Eddy Robalino of Teleamazonas were assaulted in Guayaquil.