Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa is a polarizing figure—he brought political stability to a country that had cycled through eight leaders in just ten years, but his record on free speech remains spotty at best, which has not endeared him to PrezBo. Bwog Daily Editor and resident expert on 21st century socialism, Jed Bush, reports on a World Leaders Forum discussion of freedom of the press in Ecuador.
President Bollinger (an old hand at this free speech stuff) opened the event praising Correa as a popular social reformer, noting the marked increase in the standard of living in Ecuador as well as improvements to infrastructure during his presidency. He then went on the attack, calling into question the censorship of the Ecuadorian press and the many human rights complaints that have been lodged against Ecuador. Correa smiled and shrugged at the various plaudits and accusations thrown his way, but quickly fired back once he took the stage. “Mr. President Bollinger, you’re wrong,” Correa announced, denying the accusation that it is illegal in Ecuador for the media to criticize the government.
That key distinction between “opinion” and “lie” was a recurring theme in Correa’s speech, which argued that the media may have opposing views, but “lies” are not tolerated and should be punished with jail time. Citing the American Convention on Human Rights signed in San José, he noted that in Latin America, every citizen, public or private, is entitled to their dignity and honor. His infamous lawsuit against Ecuador’s largest newspaper for libel, he explained, was not about censorship of the press, but protecting the rights and dignity of public officials and the upholding of common law. He acknowledged that slander is not punished by jail time in the United States, but emphatically denounced the idea that the United States should set the moral compass for the world, garnering enthusiastic applause from the audience.