No, Actually Ecuador Doesn’t Support Press Freedom

Picture: Espen Moe (CC)

Now that Ecuador has granted Julian Assange political asylum, maybe that means he won’t be extradited to Sweden. So, unfortunately, we may never know the truth of whether he transgressed the bounds of consent by failing to use or intentionally removing condoms during otherwise consensual sex. Some Wikileaks boosters have already started treating Ecuador like an international paragon of justice and liberty as a result.

Of course, the various journalists who have been silenced by the Correa administration’s various actions to quash internal dissent might take issue with the theory that Ecuador is a safe haven for the free press.

As SF Gate reported in February 2012, just 6 months before giving Assange political asylum:

Columnist Emilio Palacio had the temerity to question actions by President Rafael Correa. In democracies, this is recognized as a duty of the press: to examine the moves of those in power. News organizations in free societies take this responsibility seriously – or should.
The angered president responded by filing criminal libel charges against the paper, Palacio and three newspaper executives, a move designed to shut down the publication and send a message: Forget about freedom of the press in this country. The four men were sentenced to three years in prison, and the newspaper was told to cough up $40 million.

That, of course, only goes on when the Ecuadoran regime isn’t too busy selling out the indigenous peoples of the Andes to international mining interests.

J.F. Quackenbush

JF Quackenbush is a poet and lawyer who lives in the desert of the real.

38 Comments on "No, Actually Ecuador Doesn’t Support Press Freedom"

  1. Liam_McGonagle | Aug 18, 2012 at 5:13 pm |

    This is the first I’ve ever seen anyone actually spell out the notion that Ecaduor supports press freedom.  I didn’t think anyone naive enough to believe that would have the IQ to know how to write.

    It’s obviously Assange’s last chance to avoid being crushed by the American machine.  So it strikes you as odd that he would seek help from anyone who might give it to him?  This is no worse than the guy who signs on to work at Goldman Sachs knowing their business model is inherently unethical and destabilizing to the world economy–only because he’s got a family to support.  Should we stone that guy to death, too?

    • Simiantongue | Aug 18, 2012 at 8:44 pm |

      ” Should we stone that guy to death, too?’

      Not sure. We won’t know for sue unless we try.

    • J.F. Quackenbush | Aug 18, 2012 at 9:09 pm |

      It’s a valid point. Personally, I find nothing shocking about Assange’s willingness to betray his own principles in unmitigated self-interest. He’s never been Giordano Bruno despite his own mythmaking to that effect. The point of the post was really more aimed at making clear the motivations the Ecuadoran oligarchs who appear to have at least had some success in papering over their own atrocious record, as can be seen by the statement linked in the article which baldly states the ‘Ecuador understands justice and liberty’, by this fairly craven and obvious diplomatic maneuver.

      • Betray his own principles? Seriously? I didn’t realize he had a principle that he could only get help from countries which have a perfect press freedom record… which countries are those again? Oh there are none? Damn that’s a stupid principle he has then.

      • Liam_McGonagle | Aug 20, 2012 at 11:24 am |

        Sorry, but that seems a little naive to me.  Santa Clause died a few years back–some smart*ss kid spiked the egg nog with gin, and Santa fell off the roof on his way back to the sleigh.

        It’s just a plain fact:  It’s not possible for ANYBODY to live a completely, unambiguously righteous life for more than 5 months without getting strangled to death.  Certainly not if they’re going to actually do anything but sit around the cave jerking off all day.

        Assange’s deal doesn’t cover him in glory, but on balance it is much MORE moral than kowtowing to the world’s last remaining superpower. It’s not like anyone’s accused of Assange of directly strangling Ecuadoran journalists or actively participating in coverups of their deaths. 

        The worst you can say is that Assange is using Chavez as a human shield againt an indisputably bigger bully.  I have no problem with that at all.

    • You are way off on this one, if you think the media is bad in the US, you should come to Latin America, the media in our countries in owned by the richest part of society and it has served faithfully to their interests with as many lies and fabrications as possible, in reality, in Latin America we only have fox news.

      The case of Ecuador and the fight against this media that fights any kind of social change, was decided by referendum, the people of Ecuador voted on favor of the reform which stipulates that in order for media to be objective the owners should own no other business (specially banks, since the banks in Ecuador had a large portion of the monopoly). Other cases, In my country the media is owned by 3 families, which casually are the richest and have the president, yes, the president’s family owns the media; in Venezuela, in 2002, the media was fundamental for the US supported coup against Chavez; and there are many more cases, all over the region, this kind of media is owned by a few, is antidemocratic and outright fascist.

      • Liam_McGonagle | Aug 20, 2012 at 11:15 am |

        When I look to the substance of your reply, I really don’t see any contradiction with what I’ve said.  Quote:

        “. . . in Venezuela, in 2002, the media was fundamental for the US supported coup against Chavez . . .”

        I believe you are saying that there is no such thing as “nonpartisan media” in Latin America, merely two opposed partisan camps, and that the accepted practice is to liquidate one another when the opportunity presents itself.

        In this light, I have to see Chavez’ actions as a curiously opportunistic but totally predictable reaction against American imperialism.  I don’t have a problem with that.

        I don’t really see much direct evidence in there for Chavez actively supporting domestic reporting criticalof his own regime.

        Do you have such a specific example?  I could easily have missed it, but I don’t think I have.

        • You missed the point, freedom of speech is not having monopolies on information, when there is a monopoly there is no freedom of information, there is only one side, not even 2 as you seem to think, to break down that is to allow the space for the different voices of society to come to the fore; now if you think that to defend the corrupt media controlled by few is to defend freedom of speech, again, you are way off, you are defending the “right” of a few to control debate in the society and to misinform society according to their whim, and to your information, there is space for critique, is done all the time, with as many lies and fabrications that can be found, and I find it astonishing that you are defending that, is like defending Murdoch.

          • Liam_McGonagle | Aug 20, 2012 at 5:52 pm |

            I honestly don’t know how anyone could interpret what I’ve written as a defence of one kind of monopoly over another.

            Corporations want to monopolize media because, beyond mere profit generation, it can help them create a monoculture of complacency conducive to the consumerist non-ethic.

            Governments want to monopolize media because it prevents effective organization of destablizing counter-narratives to official policy.

            They’re both horrible.

            Every country has its own media history, and none of them acheive a utopian ideal, although some are clearly worse than others.  Latin American nations may have a more violent media history than the U.S., but the scale of the U.S.’s government’s crimes obviously dwarf those of any Latin American nation simply by its unique outsized influence.  Given the U.S.’s supposed role as ‘leader of the free world’, it obviously has a type of moral responsibility that smaller nations don’t.

            For that reason I point out that Assange’s compromise is not perfect, but acceptable.  Certainly not terrible.  I don’t think Assange is an active participant in any crimes related to Ecuador’s media policy, but you certainly cant expect him to openly campaign against the government that probably saved his life.

            Honestly, I don’t know where the notion that I’m defending U.S. media monopolies or government came from.  All I said is that in the grown up world there are no (Institutional) heroes, just useful players.

          • The thing is that Ecuador is not trying to monopolize media, is trying to make it more open and objective, as I have said before, historically the media in our countries has been owned by the richest part of society, something that results not only in the control of popular debate, but in a strong anti-democratic force when the government happens to be elected on a social change platform, I get that you are defending corporate media because you not acknowledging neither the history of the elite owned press in the continent, therefore the social context, nor the democratic reform done in Ecuador towards a more open access.

          • Liam_McGonagle | Aug 20, 2012 at 6:56 pm |

            Me:  “I honestly don’t know how anyone could interpret what I’ve written as a defence of one kind of monopoly over another.Corporations want to monopolize media because, beyond mere profit generation, it can help them create a monoculture of complacency conducive to the consumerist non-ethic”You:  “I get that you are defending corporate media . . .”

            Possible explanations:

            1.  You made an honest mistake, and somehow totally missed my introduction.  I find it hard to believe, but it’s possible.

            2.  You just feel like lying to win an argument that didn’t exist until you misinterpreted my statement.

            It’s pretty stark, but either you made a pretty big reading error or you’re outright lying.

          • I agree with you in what you say, monopolies are horrible, I’m just pointing out that Ecuador is trying to get away from that, not incurring in another kind of monopoly, therefore my references to history and to the referendum held, that is the point of the dispute.

    • Harryf200 | Aug 19, 2012 at 7:46 pm |

      I’d have sympathy with the POV you express except that Assange has already aligned himself with the Russian state propaganda machine when he started making programmes for “Russia Today”. He has a forked tongue – says one thing, does another.   He says he has complete editorial freedom with RT; if so, he is the only journalist working for a Russian state owned media group that has such freedom!  So, he aligns himself again with yet another country that has an interest, seemingly a shared interest with him, to expose everything that’s bad about the USA … and very little about them.  Yet journalists in Russia and in the entire Russian Federation have less freedom to express their news and ideas than any in the USA; journalists get stuffed in prison, stabbed, shot and worse in the Russian Federation when they criticise the wrong people in government … And he got into bed with them.

      • Liam_McGonagle | Aug 20, 2012 at 11:32 am |

        Well, present Assange with a realistic alternative, then.  Other than being crushed by the U.S., that is.

        Answer:   there is none.  The best Assange can do now is to play the many small bad guys off against the ONE Big Horrible guy and try to avoid direct involvement in any real sacriliges, like writing an editorial praising Putin’s plea for “leniancy” in the Pussy Riots sentencing or strangling dissident bloggers to death with his own hands.

        Not ideal, but would it have been better if Assange had never published the U.S. State Department stuff?  Because that seems to be the bargain:  seek protection from dodgy enemies of the U.S. or keep schtumm and tow the line. 

        A man has to to pick his fights if he wants to live to do anything important.

  2. Lousy article from people that don’t know Latin America, don’t know its history nor the important moment that the region is experiencing right now.

    • Amen.  What was not mentioned is that the press in Ecuador is owned by the elite.  The same group of America-philes that have been helping victimize the people of Ecuador, and the same group that Correa has circumvented during his administrations.

      Long live the Bolivarian movement, and let’s hope it infects the US, and soon.

  3. whatswrongwithyoupeople | Aug 19, 2012 at 3:15 am |

    unfortunately, we may never know the truth of whether he transgressed the bounds of consent by failing to use or intentionally removing condoms during otherwise consensual sex. ”

    Unfortunately?  What’s wrong with you people?  Why do you care?

  4. “So, unfortunately, we may never know the truth of whether he transgressed the bounds of consent by failing to use or intentionally removing condoms during otherwise consensual sex.”

    Crucial and interesting question, isn’t it. Assange is fighting for his life and for press freedom against an incredibly powerful machine that murders, detains and tortures dissenters and political prisoners, and you’re blabbering about condoms?

    • They did it without any condoms. They only thought about diseases and tests later.

      See for yourself the whole story:
      They inquired the police about the possibility of one (not wanting to accuse him) being forced later to make the tests. Answer from the police: “Who? Julian Assange… Ok, so if it’s him this is an accusation of rape, right?” and they: “No, that’s a mistake. We only came here to ask if…” Police: Listen lady, I don’t think there’s a mistake here, we work for the United States government, we are their bitches, therefore this is a rape case because this is what we want it to be.”

  5. Zero fucks about the condom BS. Regardless, I wouldn’t be surprised if this whole Ecuador thing was a trap… either they’ll sell him out to the U.S. for some kind of favor, or Ecuador was just an easier place to have him disappeared. It’d be easier for the CIA to kidnap him in Ecuador than to have him extradited to the U.S. from Sweden anyway. Then there’s the added bonus of plausible deniability….

    • “Buzzer noise.  Wrong answer!”

      You sir are obviously completely uninformed about what is going on in South America.  If what you say were true Correa would already be dead by now.

  6. I feel like I’m having a Venezuelan flashback of rich white guys here in America only giving the one-sided “perspective” of rightwing elites while completely ignoring the opposition, which after more than a hundred years, has finally managed to get elected and not murdered by American hitmen.

    I bet with only an hour’s work, I’d find that the reporter in question violated the law, has ties to human rights abusers, and generally makes a Fox News reporter look like Edward R Murrow by comparison.

    I bet I’d also find that there are a hundred other rightwing douchebags who haven’t violated the law, who can report just fine in Ecuador, so “press freedom” is in exactly zero danger whatsoever.

    Here’s what this is really about: Assange told the truth about the military/intelligence/industrial complex, and Ecuador refused to let us build a military base in Ecuador, unless we allowed them to build an Ecuadorian military base in Florida. And Correa made that last offer while laughing his ass off.

    • You should look at the facts before making assumptions. Here is reporter’s without borders extensive reporting on the ongoing efforts by the Correa administration to silence dissent:'d ask you not to leap to conclusions based on this posts criticism of Correas approach to criticism of his government. Ecuador is an ALBA nation and there are much needed reforms taking place as a result of that organization. And Correa did a courageous and necessary thing by declaring Ecuadors debt illegitimate. But no regime should be above criticism, particularly when it is going to great lengths to silence dissent. That’s the great irony of Ecuador coming to the aid of the founder of Wikileaks. It reveals the hypocrisy of Assange and Correa on this matter. WikiLeaks and Bolivarism would be better off without the both of them. Better to follow ideals than people, is my opinion. People will always let you down.

      •  Right, if you prefer to get your “facts” from an organisation funded by the former Bush administration:

        “British press baron Lord Northcliff said, “News is something that someone, somewhere wants to keep secret, everything else is advertising.” If this is true, then U.S. government funding of Reporters Without Borders must be news, because the organization and its friends in Washington have gone to extraordinary lengths to cover it up. In spite of 14 months of stonewalling by the National Endowment for Democracy over a Freedom of Information Act request and a flat denial from RSF executive director Lucie Morillon, the NED has revealed that Reporters Without Borders received grants over at least three years from the International Republican Institute.”

        Think I prefer 5by5’s “assumptions”.

      • Widelynarrow | Aug 20, 2012 at 3:07 pm |

         I recall Correa explaining during the Assange interview that Ecuador is restructuring it’s broadcasting system after the people approved the plan in a vote.  It sounds like a great plan to me.
        All the news on the Reporters Without Borders page seems to in reaction to following through with the restructuring plan. 

    • Mr Danger | Aug 20, 2012 at 3:51 am |

      “I bet with only an hour’s work, I’d find that…”

      In other words, you made zero effort and are just assuming that the facts fit your ideological bias.

      Why is this useful to share with us?

  7. The charges are bullshit, the accusers have ties to the CIA, and there was literally no other way they could smear this dude, so they played a REALLY tired, old-school sex trap move that is so transparent as to be FUCKING CLEAR to anyone with a brain.

  8. Haha, the spammer got cut.  I am so sick of those guys.  Good job Disinfo!!!

  9. Well, as is obvious from the comments this was a failed attempt at propaganda by the morons who think we will believe anything.  Wrong website, go back to your Republican and Democratic shills and tell them you blew it.  Might want to tell them to circle their little red wagons while you are at it.

    selling out the indigenous peoples of the Andes to international mining interests.

    this was actually a deal made where for once Correa got some real concessions for the indigenous people of Ecuador.

    See, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing if that is all you have and you try to post here.

  10. He seems to be in this really weird grey zone where in order to stay free he has to play certain governments against others, but can’t remain outside the influence of *any* government–which is what you’d want if you’re a journalist exposing the corruption of governments in general. Taking a TV show on Russian state-sponsored TV (think Pussy Riots trial) is another example of the compromises he’s making.

    I kind of go back and forth in my opinion of Assange. However, I think the real take-away here isn’t that a country like Ecuador may or may not support press freedom — it’s the failure of the US and UK to do so. This is humiliating to countries that profess to be democratic. 

  11. I agree with your assertion — that Correa is no champion of freedom of expression when his ox is being gored — but it raises a question: is Assange only entitled to seek protection from a state that has a perfect record on these issues, and, if so, what state would that be? I get that we shouldn’t rush to lavish fulsome praise onto Correa as a great figure, and I wince when I hear people doing it (Assange can perhaps be forgiven for not poking Correa in the eye after he granted him diplomatic asylum). But in the international arena, there are no states or leaders who have unimpeachable records on this (or any other principle worth promoting).

    • Very good point. Who DOES have freedom of the press? What country HAS NOT oppressed indigenous peoples? 

  12. “Free” speech is when you dance in a memorial of a man that defended the free speech and are arrested after. “Free” speech is having a media completely biased working for the government or doing the agenda of some political party.

    “Free” speech is when you arrest whistleblowers, people that defend some constitution which speaks about human rights and freedom of speech.
    The information nowadays is disinformation. And this piece published here today in disinfo website, puts it cooperating with the mainstream propaganda and disinformation. Have fun!

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