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Mayoral candidate supporters vandalise radio station's headquarters

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 27 April 2009, the headquarters of radio station Onda Sur were surrounded and its directors threatened by a group of demonstrators who complained about the fact that the station, according to them, favors the reelection of Mayor Manuel Aguirre. On 3 May they threw stones at the windows, sprayed the outside of the station with petrol and set it on fire. The firefighters and the police prevented any serious damage. The incident took place in Huaquillas, a town in El Oro province in southern Ecuador.

Supporters of the Regional Autonomous Movement (MAR), led by mayoral candidate Luis Florencio Fárez, positioned themselves outside Onda Sur's headquarters on 27 April in order to insult its directors. Five hooded men forced the doors' locks, but the police prevented them from entering.

Fárez, who is the owner of radio stations Ilusión and Génesis, is losing the election by a narrow margin according to the definitive vote count by the Provincial Electoral Council.

Onda Sur's chief of information, Ivis Valdivieso, acknowledged that the station supported Aguirre's candidacy in its coverage because, she stated, it was necessary to provide a counterweight to Fárez's two radio stations' "dirty campaign".

The three aforementioned radio stations are the only ones in Huaquillas.

The attack against Onda Sur comes on the heels of violent protests which took place on 26 April, the general election day, when supporters of Fárez's party attempted to burst into the electoral precinct in order to stop the counting of votes.

Valdivieso reported that the threats make it impossible for the radio station to function.

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