By Pearl Rimon
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America
QUITO, Ecuador – Rafael Correa won the presidential election earlier this month by a wide margin. Correa’s win could mean more media regulations on the country.
“No one will stop our revolution….We have never failed and we will never fail,” a jubilant Mr. Correa told a screaming crowd from a balcony at the government palace after the results were announced.
Correa won this year’s election he won with 57% of the vote, his closest opponent was Guillermo Lasso, a former banker who had 23% of the vote. Correa has only been office since 2007 but is the country’s longest serving President in decades with this second term. Since taking office, Ecuador’s poverty rate has dropped to 32.4%. The number of government employees has increased from 16,000 to 90,000. He has improved access to education and health care as well as improved the country’s roadways.
During Correa’s first term, he made radical changes including changing electoral law and the constitution to allow for consecutive political terms.
He has had a tough policy regarding media outlets that issues out fines and lawsuits when the outlets are critical of his government. Despite Correa’s win, many are worried that his win will threaten the free press. A specific concern is a proposed communications law, which could lead to more checks on the media.
“We hope that the confrontation and harassment of the press is over, but we hope that the confrontation and harassment of the press is over, but we see the risk of trying to control the media’s content and establish prior censorship of journalist work,” Vicente Ordoñez, president of the country’s National Journalist Union, said Monday.
Current media laws in place make it illegal for biased political reporting. Examples of these laws since May 2012 include at least eleven radio stations have been closed and Vistazo magazine was charged with an $80,000 fine after being accused of violating a political propaganda law. Violations are ruled on by a tribunal or the country’s Constitutional Court.
Corerea has had repeated problems with the national newspaper El Universo, Ecuador’s National Court of Justice ratified a decision sentencing the paper’s owners and former columnist to three years in prison for defaming the president and fined them $40 million. After worldwide criticism, Correa pardoned the journalist and waived the fine.
Other criticisms facing Correa stem from his prosecution of indigenous leaders for organizing protests against large-scale mining projects.
For more information, please see:
Al Jazeera — Ecuador’s Correa Wins Third Presidential Term – 18 Feb 2013
The Guardian — Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa Says Citizens Will Be in Charge, Not Money – 18 Feb 2013
Wall Street Journal — Ecuador Election Win Seen Tightening Correa’s Grip – 18 Feb 2013
New York Times — President Correa Handily Wins Re-election in Ecuador – 17 Feb 2013