Friday, March 23, 2012

Ecuador: Government media personnel prevented from covering indigenous movement march

Source: IFEX

22 March 2012
Government media personnel prevented from covering indigenous movement march

Fundamedios/IFEX) - On 19 March 2012, journalist Máximo Barba, a correspondent for Ecuador TV in Ambato (136 km south of Quito), was physically assaulted and prevented from covering an indigenous march as it passed through that city.

Barba told FUNDAMEDIOS that he was working along with his camera operator in the city's central park when a man, who identified himself as part of the march's security committee, intercepted them and demanded that they leave the area because government media were not allowed to cover the march.

"He started to tell us that we were not welcome there, that we should move off, although we were in a public place. They started to become violent, they grabbed and shook me and threatened to apply 'indigenous justice', until the police intervened, but at that point we could no longer cover the event," Barba said.

In footage obtained by the Ecuador TV team, which was published as a link on the media outlet's webpage, the journalist can be seen being shaken by one of the demonstrators, who covered half his face with the colored flag that represents the indigenous movement.

This action came after a similar incident that took place on 16 March, when the march, which is being called the "Multinational March for Life", arrived in the city of Riobamba, 188 km south of Quito.

According to the "El Comercio" newspaper, on that day, while indigenous leaders where delivering speeches, "a group of demonstrators identified a camera operator for the pro-government newspaper 'El Ciudadano' and forced him to leave the area, saying the paper's objective is to delegitimise the march."

According to the newspaper, the action came as a reprisal for an article published by "El Ciudadano" entitled "Quishpe receives a little bottle for marching." This, in the version presented by the government paper, meant "an intention to continue paying this group of indigenous people with alcohol, as happened hundreds of years ago." The article's contents have been characterised by several sectors as "racist" and/or discriminatory against the indigenous people who are marching in protest against large-scale mining projects that the government wants to implement.