The people of Ecuador are rising up to refound their country as a pluri-national homeland for all. This inspiring movement, with Ecuador's indigenous peoples at its heart, is part of the revolution spreading across the Americas, laying the groundwork for a new, fairer, world. Ecuador Rising aims to bring news and analysis of events unfolding in Ecuador to english speakers.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Ecuador's leftist president invites press freedom groups to visit

IHT, May 20, 2007

QUITO, Ecuador: Ecuador's president on Sunday invited the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and eight international press groups to visit the Andean country amid criticism the leftist leader is trying to limit freedom of expression.

Last week, President Rafael Correa sued the Quito newspaper La Hora for libel over a March editorial in which the paper said he was leading the nation with "mobs, rocks and clubs."

The editorial was referring to a standoff between Congress and the courts, when police blocked 57 lawmakers from entering the capitol. Crowds of Correa supporters also attacked the legislators, who had been fired by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal in a dispute over the president's push to rewrite the constitution.

The lawsuit drew criticism from both Ecuadorean journalists and international press freedom organizations, including the Inter-American Press Association and the World Press Freedom Committee.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists urged Correa to drop the lawsuit suit against the newspaper.

"Fear of criminal penalties will inhibit the Ecuadorean press in reporting and commenting on issues of public interest," CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said last week.

On Sunday, a presidential statement said "any mission whose commitment is to seek the truth" would be welcomed in Ecuador. The invitation included the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, a branch of the Organization of American States, and eight international press freedom groups.

There was no immediate reaction as to whether any of the groups would visit Ecuador.

The statement said freedom of expression is an unalienable right, but that there are "legitimate limits" that protect individuals' names and public images.

Correa, Ecuador's eighth president in a decade, said he would drop the suit if the paper's president publicly apologizes.

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