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Attacks against the press put the media in Ecuador on alert


An explosive USB causes minor injuries to a journalist and adds to the 445 attacks against professionals in the last year

Members of the police investigate the attack against five journalists on March 21. POLICE ECUADOR (via REUTERS)

The explosive device was placed on a USB flash drive that had arrived in a manila envelope, with a printed message.

It was for the journalist and presenter Lenin Artieda, from the Ecuadorian channel Ecuavisa.

Artieda entered it into the computer when the discharge occurred, causing him minor injuries, although it could have been greater because "only half of the explosive was activated," explained Javier Chango, Police Chief of Criminalistics.

That was one of the five envelopes that had the same content that were sent through a courier service last week and were addressed to journalists Carlos Vera, Mario Rivadeneira from Radio Democracia, Mauricio Ayora from channel TC television and Milton Pérez from Teleamazon.

Only Artieda's exploded and that was when the other communicators realized that it was a multiple attack.

The first investigations determined that the sender was the same.

H. García would have sent the packages from the city of Quinsaloma, located in the coastal province of Los Ríos.

The Police consider him a key suspect in the investigation, but seven days after the fact, he still has not been captured.

César Ricaurte, director of Fundamedios, fears that this attack is one more that goes unpunished, in an increasingly violent environment against the press.

In 2022, the organization monitored 356 attacks against journalists, which means 67 more than the previous year.

Milton Pérez, one of the journalists who received the USB last week, says the case must be clarified.

“That they tell us where we are stepping on,” he adds.

In the envelope there was also a sheet with a printed message that said: "Information will unmask correísmo."

"They didn't say shut up, they didn't give instructions not to get involved in a specific case, it was a trap," says Pérez.

This case has a different profile from that used by organized crime in other multiple attacks against journalists and the media in the last year.

They have shot at the facilities of the RTS channel, they use motorcyclists to leave pamphlets with specific messages, such as warning of attacks on civilians, or prohibiting the circulation of the


newspaper in some cities.

“This time they are highly visible journalists with a long history.

This pattern tells us that they want to give a message of high exposure to the public," says Ricaurte.

Most of the attacks occur in small cities, where serious conflicts over illegal mining, drug trafficking and human trafficking are taking place.

In the last year, four digital media journalists whose work is characterized by making live broadcasts have been assassinated in Ecuador.

And so far in 2023, there are already 89 journalists who have suffered some type of aggression, such as threats, stigmatizing speeches, legal proceedings, attacks in the digital and physical space.

"There has been no more information about these attacks and I am afraid that under the crutch that it is attributed to organized crime, that is where it all ends," explains Ricaurte.

Silence and impunity permeate the hundreds of cases of assaults and murders on journalists, like the one that shocked the South American country five years ago.

On March 26, 2018, aboard a truck driven by Efraín Segarra, photographer Paúl Rivas and journalist Javier Ortega, from the newspaper

El Comercio

, were on the highway that goes to the community of Mataje, in the province of Esmeraldas, which is on the border with Colombia, when they were kidnapped by members of the Oliver Sinisterra Front, a dissident of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Javier Ortega, Paul Rivas and Efraín Segarra died for telling what is happening in one of the most violent territories in the country and the impunity for their deaths has turned Esmeraldas into a "silenced zone", which inhibits communicators from reporting serious events in the northern province and which extends to other areas where criminal gangs have taken control.

Five years after the crime, the Public Ministry has not determined a hypothesis of what happened, and the case is kept confidential.

The families have insistently requested the information, but neither Lenin Moreno nor Guillermo Lasso, who offered to declassify the files on this crime, have done so.

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2023-03-28

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