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Twitter hashtag targets Ecuadorian songwriter who insulted the president

Since the early hours of September 7, 2013, the hashtag #UnPuñeteParaGuevara (A punch for Guevara) has been circulating on Twitter, with several messages that insult and promote violence against songwriter Jaime Guevara, after President Correa insulted him in his Weekly National Broadcast N° 338, after an incident ocurred on August 29, when Guevara made a “middle finger” gesture to the presidential caravan as it passed by. Correa stepped out of the car and challenged Guevara "man to man". Guevara claims that the gesture was a way of protesting the decision to start oil exploitation procedures in areas within Yasuní National Park.

Among other messages under the aforementioned hashtag, National Secretary of Communications Fernando Alvarado posted in his account @FAlvaradoE “#UnPuñeteParaGuevara poses a debate: the jerk, the obscene is the hero while those who suggest that he gets what he deserves are presented as violent”.

The Twitter messages appeared after President Correa insulted Guevara in his Weekly National Broadcast, calling him “a liar, a brat, an agressive, violent man”. He asked that the citizens stay away from such “wicked people that cause trouble just to get some attention and stop being a nobody”. Correa further alleged that “if that guy would have made such gesture in front of my mother or my wife, I would have kicked his ass, he would have been in pain for a very long time”. He then called for all Ecuadorians to “reject these bitter people, these jerks that want to oppose to us, the majority. Let's reject them when they walk down the street”.

Young officialist group Juventud Alianza País promoted the hashtag. Among other messages, they announced: “we do not support physical aggression, but we would not let anyone disrespect us either”.

Other users attacked the songwriter with similar messages: “Stop the insults, stop the idiocy, this cannot be allowed. #UnPuñeteParaGuevara, hit him well!. They are corrupting our society” said [email protected] Other violent messages suggested that the artist should be attacked with sticks and machetes, as user @MarisolAbadd said.

@MartinBrutalwrote: “I respond like a man to brats”, and “#JaimeGuevara wherever you are, I will respond like a man”. JLopezGye threatened “come to Guayaquil Jaime Guevara, insignificant brat, so you can see how the men in this city respond to such a gesture”. @IsmaelChangwrote: #JaimeGuevara, come and provoke me, I will hit you in the face with a rock”.

Fundamedios rejects these attacks and acts of stigmatization against Guevara, who was exercising his right to freedom of speech. This right protects expressions even when they are shocking or disturbing, specially when then refer to matters of public concern. The violent verbal attacks perpetrated by President Correa, other public officials and many citizens jeopardize Guevara's rights and violate the State's obligation to protect and respect the rights of all the people in its territory, even of those that oppose the government and its actions. The bodies of the Inter-American System of Human Rights have stated that stigmatizing speech that comes from high State Officials pose a higher risk of generating attacks against the ones addressed in it, due to its broad dissemination among supporters and party members.

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