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News > Latin America

Freedom of Speech Crack-Down in Ecuador

  • Ecuadorean judge Sylvia Sánchez ordered preventive prison to seven persons who worked in the government of Rafael Correa, including two journalists.

    Ecuadorean judge Sylvia Sánchez ordered preventive prison to seven persons who worked in the government of Rafael Correa, including two journalists. | Photo: EFE

Published 31 October 2018

Employees of AWOL former National Secertary of State Fernando Alvarado are being arrested in masses in a bid to wipe out the last remnants of Rafael Correa's reign of Ecuador. 

Ecuadorean judge Sylvia Sanchez Wednesday accepted a request from the subrogating head of the Prosecutor's Office, to give preventive prison to seven persons - including journalists, in a bid to eliminate the last remains of Rafael Correa's time as president. 

Ecuador: Rafael Correa Supporters March To Protest Detention

The Prosecutor's Office - pursuing charges against former National Secretary of Communication (Secom) Fernando Alvarado, are looking to eliminate the cabinet Alvarado kept during his tenure under former President Rafael Correa. 

The judicial investigation has the signature of the current Secretary of the Secom Andres Michelena, and the government of Ecuadorean President Lenin Moreno, who was the administrator of the investigated contract. The main witness in the case is former Communications under-secretary Pablo Yanez, who took refuge in the System of Victims and Witnesses.

Judge Sylvia Sanchez resolved to order preventive detention, transfer of assets and immobilization of account to five former officers of the Secom. These measures are against Marco Antonio Bravo, former secretary of media; Javier Lemos, former financial director; Galo Pacheco, Vanessa Salgado and Juan Chiriboga, all former officials. Also arrested were Carlos Bravo and Beatriz Vivanco, of the hired company, Gota Azul.

Journalist, and owner of the state-hired company Gota Azul, Carlos Bravo, said in an interview that Andres Michelena and Pablo Yanez have to be investigated also. "Andres Michelena, on April 22nd, 2014, through a memorandum, asks Pablo Yanez (...) to require the hiring of Gota Azul. Because in 2013 Andres Michelena was the contract administrator of the contract with Gota Azul."

Journalist Marco Antonio Bravo (MAB), one of the persons who had a preventive prison request, accused President Moreno and the current Communications National Secretary Andres Michelena, of "political hatred against former President Correa and all of us who worked with President Correa," in a dramatic video released by MAB as a response to the arrest warrant.

"The journalist Marco A. Bravo is right: the fault lies with Moreno and Michelena, who use power only for their hatred and complexes.
But the impostor Comptroller General of the State, the puppet prosecutor, the venal judges, and the press that hides so much abuse are also guilty. It's forbidden to forget!"

According to Carlo Bravo "Andres Michelena knew exactly what Gota Azul was producing, approved Gota Azul every month with partial proceedings." For other journalists and political analysts in Ecuador, this is yet another case of lawfare in the South American country. "Carlos Bravo is the new victim of Lawfare in Ecuador," wrote political analyst Amauri Chamorro on a tweet.

Former President Rafael Correa tweeted that "in 16 months (since President Lenin Moreno was sworn-in), there are already 4 journalists with the most absurd prison order, impossible in a state of law, but, since they are journalists who worked with Secom, they have no rights."

Journalist MAB said in a press conference that Andres Michelena was the contract administrator with Gota Azul in 2013. Adding that he and his family have suffered from "media lynching" and highlighted that his duty "as a journalist" was to inform about the Ecuadorean people about the government of President Correa. "I have not taken a single cent, I want to face freedom. It does not merit a preventive prison," added MAB.

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