Ecuador’s government is preparing to move forward with an oil-drilling project that will disrupt the life of indigenous tribes and damage the country’s—and the world’s—ecological patrimony. Although a significant number of Ecuadorians oppose the decision, the administration’s repressive policies toward the media and civil society are preventing an open debate.
Over the past 18 months, Latin America has borne witness to a changing legal landscape that directly impacts internet freedom. Constraints have come in varying forms in different countries, yet each affects the scope and depth of the content that can be found online. High-profile cases of intermediary liability—in which internet service providers (ISPs), website hosts, and search engines are held legally, and at times, criminally responsible for user-generated content—have come to the fore in Brazil and Argentina. In Ecuador, the June passage of the Organic Law on Communications set a legal precedent for holding platforms responsible for content posted by users, placing further legal pressure on an environment already under threat.
In a new report, Investing in Freedom: Democracy Support in the U.S. Budget, Freedom House examines the President’s FY 2014 request for democracy and human rights activities and urges Congress to fully fund the international affairs budget to support the achievement of strategic U.S. foreign policy goals.
Civil Society, Democratic Governance, Internet Freedom, U.S. Foreign Policy, United Nations
Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia-Pacific, Eurasia, Middle East and North Africa, Americas
“Democratizing the media” is a common refrain in Latin America these days. It can be heard in weekly presidential “cadenas” and verbose diatribes during the biannual hearings of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). While the phrase may suggest a process that would lift restrictions on media and increase citizen access, it has been invoked to support policies that do the opposite, becoming a favorite slogan of the region’s least democratic leaders, chief among them Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa.
In less than five years since taking office, President Rafael Correa has turned Ecuador into one of the more restrictive countries for freedom of expression in Latin America and taken steps to assault freedom of association.