Ecuador Copies Venezuela on Press Freedom

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa announced Monday that his government is reviewing the broadcast licenses of radio and television stations and that it is finding “irregularities” to which sanctions will be applied, including revoking licenses. “Some sacred cows will fall,” he warned. The measures could affect hundreds of stations. The announcement was made just days after President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela also used an administrative pretext to close down 34 radio stations critical of his regime. Last week the Venezuelan congress began considering a press crimes law that would criminally penalize with prison sentences of up to four years members of the media “or any other person that expresses himself through any medium of communication” for reporting news that is false, harmful to mental health, or that produces instability. It’s not clear that Correa will also copy Chavez on a press censorship law or that he will close as many stations. But at the very least, Correa is seeking to significantly muzzle the independent press through intimidation and self-censorship.