09 August 2011 ~ 1 Comentario

Ecuador’s Correa shoots himself in the foot

By Carlos Alberto Montaner*

Rafael Correa

(The Miami Herald) I fear that Rafael Correa, the president of Ecuador, has opened the gates of trouble.
The lawsuit against the daily El Universo and his malicious efforts to imprison journalist Emilio Palacio and the editors of that newspaper will turn him into the defendant for the same charges once the table turns. Today, Correa controls the judiciary to a great degree, but in Latin America, especially in Ecuador, that is almost always a passing phenomenon.

In the future, the government will be held by an adversary group of people who were wronged by Correa and can prove with relative ease that he injured them publicly and notoriously, accused them without proof of nonexistent crimes, and in addition prevaricated and violated the laws that regulate judicial independence. All of these are extremely serious crimes, which could cost him a multimillion-dollar fine and long years behind bars. It’s simple: Whoever utilizes the courts to fight his political battles will inevitably end up the victim of his own tactics.

For now, it is very likely that the Interamerican Institute for Democracy will sue him in several courts for repeated slander. That’s one of the consequences of the Internet and globalization: Slander and libel, once divulged by that medium and international television, cease to be local crimes. The law is clear: When a head of government and an official institution commit those crimes and use international channels of communication to spread them, a lawsuit can be filed anywhere. For example, before impartial courts that are unaffected by the influence of those who have committed such grievous crimes.

The events occurred thus: On Sept. 23, 2010, Coral-Gables based Interamerican Institute for Democracy, as it had done previously with other former leaders, invited former President Lucio Gutiérrez to deliver a speech in Miami, in collaboration with one of the city’s major universities. The conference, which was open to the public and the press, was filmed and uplinked to the Internet, as is usual with the events organized by that institution. On that occasion, Gutiérrez was very critical of the Correa government and spoke about the Armed Forces’ discontent with the young president. Of course, he didn’t say anything that he hadn’t expressed dozens of times before in Ecuador.

One week later, on Sept. 30, Ecuador witnessed a lamentable police uprising caused by salary disputes. The episode, which should never have gone beyond that point, took a different turn when President Correa personally confronted the mutineers and ended up detained by them in a hospital. Army commandos rescued him in a violent operation that took the lives of several people.

From that point on, President Correa and members of his government began to slander the IID and its leaders, accusing them of an alleged conspiracy to overthrow the government in complicity with Gutiérrez, in other words, falsely charging them with a serious crime. The institution and its representatives vehemently denied the charges.

Shortly thereafter, after letting the situation cool down and allowing the Ecuadorean government to gather all the information available, the president of the IID, Prof. Guillermo Lousteau, a prestigious jurist, wrote President Correa an open letter asking him to either retract that dangerous accusation or prove it. Correa ignored the letter and some of his spokesmen redoubled the slander campaign.

That’s a pity. Faced with that degree of contumacy, all that’s left is the penal route, now reinforced by Correa’s own acts against Emilio Palacio and El Universo. The precedent is perfect: If the honor of the Ecuadorean president is worth $80 million for an alleged insult (which its author denies and, in any case, was willing to rectify), and if that honor can be cleansed by the imprisonment of those who, according to the president, offended him, what’s the price of the honor of the IID leaders and how long should Correa spend in prison for the fabrication by his government of a conspiracy that didn’t exist, of a coup that never was, and some actions with which no leader of the American institution was involved in the slightest?

All that will be aired in the courtroom. We know how President Correa acts when he sues in an environment he controls. We’ll see what happens when he is sued before impartial judges.

One Response to “Ecuador’s Correa shoots himself in the foot”

  1. Martin Lenk 30 August 2011 at 4:10 pm Permalink

    En mi pais de nacimiento hay letreros enormes en la carretera que dicen:
    Nunca mas dejes que el comunismo entre en la Republica Checa.

    Sin mas comentario.

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