An Inter American Press Association (IAPA) mission arrived in Ecuador. Their goal: to assess the freedom of speech and press in Ecuador in the midst of the discussion of the Communications Act and the attitude of the Government to the private media, expressed in judgments and claims.
Yesterday the chairman of IAPA, Gonzalo Marroquín, said that during his two days in Quito he will hold meetings with the assembly, both ruling and opposition parties. Likewise he will contact journalists from official and public media.
Those meetings will provide input to the mission to prepare a report on the state of freedom of expression and the defense of access to information within the country.
Gonzalo Marroquín answered Ecuadortimes some questions on that matter.
ET: In your opinion, what is the role played by the independent press in democracy?
GM: The main role of the press should always be to inform. Of course there must be a commitment to the pursuit of truth, and finally to adequately inform the public, that is, readers, viewers or listeners. The press will not be considered or claim to be a “fourth power”, but must function as a counter to the state.
That means an investigative journalism should be done to encourage the Government to act with transparency. They must denounce corruption, abuse of authority, influence peddling, etc., that is the job of the press. (…) Democracy without an independent press cannot be conceived, because people with no information cannot make decisions. It is important to remember that there have always been other violations of individual rights and freedoms of individuals and groups when removed the freedom of speech and press by authoritarian governments.
ET: It is currently being discussed In the Ecuadorian National Assembly a draft of the Media Bill. What is your personal opinion about it?
GM: The procedure is not democratic, the way society would like it to be. In fact, the bill will end up being like President Correa wants, because he has the power of veto which allows him to impose his own project at the end. The most worrying thing is that we already know the strong animosity that the Ecuadorian government has against the independent press to which he wants to wipe it off the map.
The question each Ecuadorian has to ask him or herself is: Do I want the government to decide what information do I have to receive?
ET: The bill proposed by the governing party, Alianza País, provides the formation of a Council Regulation Media. In your opinion, is it compatible this Council with the defense of press freedom?
GM: No, absolutely not. In fact, this is the mechanism that is being chosen in order to control the independent press, for surely the “regulation” will be marked by the government line imposed by President Correa, which means that will censor or repress all who want to broadcast media information or opinions against the government. An agency of this nature wants to be imposed in Argentina.
We, the agencies that work in the defense of freedom of press and expression, demand fewer bills, more opportunities for debate, greater tolerance and a free flow of information. This Council will be disastrous and will dictate the type of news, information and comments that Ecuadorians will have to read, watch or listen in the media.
ET: What is the future of press freedom in this country?
CM: I see it very complicated indeed. I hope that President Correa to analyze in depth the harm that he causes to democracy and to the people of his country and to correct everything that he has been doing against freedom of expression. This does not look easy, but it would be excellent for Ecuador (…). Finally, I would like to say that the Ecuadorian people will ultimately decide that, but of course they should stop being a spectator in this battle that is being fought for freedom of expression. If the press is silent, we will gradually see how other freedoms will fell. (AV / FO)
Source: Daily El Comercio / Ecuadortimes