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Organisations join complaint against magazine for alleged electoral infraction

(Fundamedios/IFEX) - On 3 August 2011, several social organisations designated to campaign for the government's position in the public consultation and referendum that took place on 7 May issued a complaint against "Vistazo" magazine. The organisations alleged that "Vistazo" committed an elections infraction by publishing an editorial in which it made clear a preference for the NO option in response to several of the questions posed in the referendum. The organisations also claimed that the magazine should be fined $US2.4 million.

According to a public statement, the Ñukanchi Allpa Agricultural Development Corporation, the National Rural Insurance Confederation and National Campesino Coordinating Committee, the Sumak Tarpuy Ayllunkunapak Migrant Indigenous Communities and Peoples Farming Association and the Diabluma Radical Left Popular Organisation will file a complaint against "Vistazo" because the "magazine created unfair and unequal competition that openly encouraged the electorate to vote in the negative."

This complaint is in addition to another filed by Víctor Raúl Ocaña García, president of the Bolivarian Economic Solidarity Chamber, an organisation that is also closely affiliated with the government. On 20 May, Ocaña filed a lawsuit against the magazine with the Electoral Tribunal (Tribunal Contencioso Electora) alleging that "Vistazo", by publishing the editorial in question, violated the 48 hour publication ban that by law must be respected before an electoral process.

The editorial "Un no rotundo" ("A resounding no"), published by "Vistazo" in its 4 May edition, stated the magazine's position and provided an analysis of the reasons for voting NO to questions 3, 4, 5 and 9 of the referendum, which related to changes in the judicial system and limits on property and the dissemination of information by the media.

In a previous interview with Fundamedios, Patricia Estupiñán, the magazine's general editor, said the article was an editorial and, therefore, did not contravene the electoral law because they were not propagandising in any way.

It is worthwhile to note that, on 4 June, President Rafael Correa, during his "Enlace Ciudadano" programme, said the magazine had committed what he called a "shameless electoral infraction" and should be fined.

The Electoral Tribunal is currently processing the complaint filed by Ocaña.

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