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Ecuador: A free expression lens on Lenin Moreno's first 100 days

The stigmatizing speech, insults and disqualifications against journalists and activists during the president's Saturday broadcasts and the almost daily attacks against the media have decreased dramatically, according to Fundamedios.

Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno talks to the media during a visit to Ecuador's state-run Esmeraldas refinery complex in Esmeraldas, Ecuador, 15 August 2017
Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno talks to the media during a visit to Ecuador's state-run Esmeraldas refinery complex in Esmeraldas, Ecuador, 15 August 2017

REUTERS/Daniel Tapia

The first 100 days of the administration of Lenin Moreno promised changes, not only with the call for open dialogue, the elimination of the president's weekly broadcasts or revisiting the structure of the administration in the public means - which has promised to mark a turning point towards a more plural editorial line and less government involvement. The drastic drop in the number of attacks on freedom of expression has given us the opportunity to reflect on a new reality that could translate into an improvement in the exercise of this fundamental right in Ecuador.

So far in 2017, 242 attacks have been recorded - this includes the last three months of the administration of Rafael Correa, the most violent, with a total of 113 attacks between March and May, compared to the first three months of the Moreno administration, with a fall greater than 50% and a total of 54 cases. In May, July and August, there were only 22, 16 assaults, respectively, marking a drastic difference, compared to the attacks reported in March (35), April (41) and May (37).

Attacks from the State and public officials decrease

During the last three months of former President Rafael Correa's administration and during the first 100 days of Lenin Moreno's administration, there is a huge difference in the level of aggression against Ecuadorians. For example, between March and May, which were the last three months of Correa's presidency, the main aggressors were public officials, who staged 44 assaults, followed by actions by state institutions (usually sanctions under the LOC) with 35, against the 16 attacks perpetrated by public officials and 11 by the same State, under the government of Moreno.

Similarly, during the last three months of Correa's presidency, the public official who attacked [the press] the most was the former President on 14 occasions (64 since January), in contrast to zero aggressions by President Lenin Moreno.

An interesting fact is the comparison of aggressors with the category of "Political", understood as someone who is outside the exercise of power. In the last few months of the former regime, there were no reported acts of aggression but in these 100 days, we have registered 9 cases, the majority of them are the same perpetrators as in the attacks under Correa's administration.

In spite of these changes and the decrease of the aggressiveness, attacks involving the State and public officials in these 100 days under the command of Moreno continue to be the protagonists, with 11 and 16 cases respectively, followed by politicians and unknown assailants, with 9 and 8 cases respectively.

Verbal assaults continue, but legal processes and state abuses decrease

As for the attackers, both in the last months of the government of Correa and in the first ones of Moreno, the main attacks were verbal assaults and for violations of digital rights. However, the difference lies in the number of these.

Between March and May, verbal attacks, such as threats, insults and disqualifications, add an additional 21 attacks (39 since January), while in the last quarter, 11 attacks were reported. Violations of digital rights in Correa's final months totaled 7, but increased to 11 under the Lenin Moreno government.

There is a marked difference in the aggressions produced by the abuse of state power, which added up to 17 during the Correa government, compared to 4 reported under the Moreno government; the same applies to criminal proceedings. During the last quarter of the Correa government there were 29, in contrast to one case registered under the new government.

Continue reading the report summary and analysis.

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