Fundamedios denounces campaign against itTuesday, January 28, 2014
Correa moves to control media watchdog
QUITO — Ecuadorean non-governmental organization Fundamedios claimed yesterday that President Rafael Correa is trying to stop it from operating normally after the government announced that the “administrative control” of the NGO would be transferred to the national Communications Secretariat.
Fundamedios has frequently criticized the government for restricting freedom of press in the country.
Yesterday, the NGO’s director César Ricaurte gave a press conference in which he showed documents sent by the Communications Secretariat and said that he was informed that Fundamedios “would be put under the administrative control of its main agressor, the state’s institution (the Communications Secretariat) that has designed, produced and ordered huge propaganda campaigns against many Ecuadorean journalists and the institutions they defend, with Fundamedios among them.”
Ricaurte said that the move “marks another step forward in the government’s campaign to harass and stigmatize.”
Fundamedios is integrated by several well-known journalists and receives funding from US government agencies.
Correa has often described himself as a victim of private media persecution and dismisses media watchdog groups as stooges of corporate enterprise.
He has slammed critical Ecuadorean newspapers — El Comercio, El Universo and La Hora, among them — as “informative mafias” and moved to create Ecuador TV , the first state-owned channel in the country, with the announced intention of producing television with better quality standards than the private channels.
Newspaper El Telégrafo also became state-owned under Correa.
Conflict with doctors
Correa didn’t comment on the Fundamedios news yesterday but headed a rally in Quito’s Plaza Grande during which he warned the country’s doctors that they could be replaced by foreign professionals if they don’t go back to work.
Ecuadorean doctors have been protesting against plans to penalize malpractice in the country.
Correa warned doctors that if they act on their threat to massively resign from their posts at public hospitals, he would call on foreign doctors to fill the open positions.
The president criticized the doctors for “putting peoples’ lives at risk” and said that his government is already working on bringing 750 foreign professionals.
“We’ve talked with the ambassadors of various countries and we already have a group of specialists that will be coming to the country to lend their support,” Health Minister Carina Vance said yesterday.
During yesterday rally, Correa said that in a few years the new Penal Code “will be celebrated.”
Herald staff with AP, Télam