The IAPA is alarmed over takeover of television channel in Ecuador


Miami (January 9, 2024) - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) expressed today its strong condemnation of the takeover of a television channel in Ecuador by armed criminals, who threatened additional raids on other media outlets, and urged authorities to ensure the work of journalists in the country. In this case, the IAPA called for a thorough investigation and prosecution of those responsible.

Minutes after 2 PM local time, masked criminals stormed the facilities of TC Televisión in Guayaquil and fired shots into the air while the channel was broadcasting live, according to local press reports.

According to Ecuavisa, TC Televisión journalist José Luis Calderón was targeted with guns to his head, and explosives were placed in the pocket of his jacket. The attackers immobilized and threatened the channel's workers until around 2:45 when the police entered the premises and rescued the victims, as reported by the press.

As reported by La Hora newspaper, one person was injured during the attack, while other channel workers climbed onto the roofs to seek help.

Shortly before 4 PM, the Police, through their X account, announced that they had successfully detained several individuals related to the attack.

IAPA President Roberto Rock, director of the Mexican portal La Silla Rota, denounced the act of violence and stated, "The takeover of a media outlet by armed criminals is an affront of extreme seriousness due to its multiple implications. In a context of violence, regardless of its origin, authorities must take urgent measures to ensure that journalists can exercise their profession without fear of reprisals and continue serving the community."

The takeover of the channel and other violent actions in the country led President Daniel Noboa to declare the existence of an "internal armed conflict" and order the military forces to neutralize about twenty transnational organized crime groups, which he declared as terrorist organizations and non-state belligerent actors.

On Monday, Noboa had declared a state of emergency for 60 days and imposed a curfew in response to the violence in the country over the past few days and prison riots, one of which resulted in the escape of José Adolfo Macías (alias "Fito"), leader of the drug trafficking gang Los Choneros, from a prison in Guayaquil.

Carlos Jornet, President of the IAPA's Committee on Press Freedom and Information, from the Argentine newspaper La Voz del Interior, warned that "this unacceptable act of intimidation could have had much more dramatic consequences." He added, "The implementation of the mechanism to protect journalists is urgent. Any further delay will only worsen the precarious situation in which the media operate, as they are targeted for exposing the criminal actions and connections of drug gangs with political, police, and prison groups. When a television channel is attacked during a live broadcast, it seeks to instill terror among citizens."

In December, the IAPA had expressed alarm at the escalation of organized crime violence and threats against the press in Ecuador.

IAPA is a non-profit organization dedicated to defending and promoting freedom of the press and expression in the Americas. It comprises more than 1,300 publications from the western hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida, United States.