If you have been around Latin American new’s sources at all today, you might already know that our dearest president, Rafael Correa, just won a 40 million dollar legal case against the Ecuadorian newspaper, El Universo. What did the newspaper do? Well, on October 6 2011, they published an opinion piece by Emilio Palacio, in which he called the president a liar.
It was September 30th and I was walking through Beloit’s hallways. All of a sudden a heard my politics professor calling me, “Caya, Caya” (how I am regularly called in the US). I turned around to find out that the BBC had just published a BREAKING NEWS piece stating that Ecuador had gone into civil war. Not knowing how to respond to the news, I hurried to the library to check other news sources. Within minutes I found international news outlets claiming that people were dying in our streets and that the policemen had kidnapped the president. I called my mom, no answer, I called my sister, no answer, so I called all my Ecuadorian friends at Beloit – “did you hear? Apparently Correa has been kidnapped”. We all got together outside the library. We were not too nervous, for most of us had participated in political protests before and Ecuador is infamous for not letting any president complete their term. Hoping everything was okay, my day continued.
At around 4:00pm I got a call from my mom, “are you okay?” I asked in a panicked voice. “Yes, why?” “Well, the BBC, CNN, NPR are all saying that Ecuador’s president has been kidnapped, that people are dying and that we are in the middle of civil war”. A silence followed my statement, “well other than the civil war, it is mostly all true” she replied. The conversation that followed was hard to believe. As good Ecuadorians, the police force was protesting outside a hospital. They were unhappy because the government had changed their monthly stipend. The protest was calm and did not include the majority of the police force, probably because not all were unhappy with the stipend change. Anyway, against logic and the advice of his party, Correa decided to go to the scene to see what was happening. This is when it got intense, at least in the news. The protesters got angry and excited that the president was there and as with most crowds the ran towards him, some to get his autograph others to tell him how unhappy they were. His guards reacted by throwing pepper spray, which in turn, suffocated the president who needed to be taken to the hospital were the protesters were located.
The director of the hospital asked him to leave and go to another hospital, to avoid the crowd coming in. The president did not wish to go to any of the other of the three hospitals that surrounded the Police hospital, where he was. Next scene: The president was in the window saying that he has been kidnapped. Confused by his statement, people outside started screaming, his guards fired shots and for the first time in 50 years people died in what began as a peaceful protest.
Fast forward one week, Palacio wrote an opinion piece insulting the president for lying to the country and the international community, claiming that he has a totalitarian personality that would only hurt Ecuador in the long run. A month and a half later Correa sued the newspaper that Palacio writes for, for 40 million dollars. Paying this amount would take approximately 666 years for an average Ecuadorian.
Conclusion, after some corruption, the president of a “populist, democratic” nation has managed to win a big sum of money, has increased fear among the population of the country he “loves” and has punched “liberty of expression” in the face.
PS: After yesterday’s decision was made, the mother of the owner of the newspaper died of a heart attack. Not too blame Correa, but it is very unfortunate.
I love this country, I really do and I hoped with all my heart that Correa was that leader that we needed to take Ecuador to the next level. Unfortunately, it appears that this well-intentioned man got too drunk with power and is falling into the same holes as his predecessors.
The image below were taken from Google, if you own any of them and do not wish to have them published, just let me know. (Hoping not to get sued…)