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Ecuadorian President Threatens Internet Satirists

Meme de @CrudoEcuador con presidente Rafael Correa

CrudoEcuador recasts its scandal with Rafael Correa as a SuperBowl contest. (“They're funding you,” Correa's speech bubble reads.)

The Twitter account CrudoEcuador posts humorous memes about topics of Ecuadorian national interest, especially about political figures like President Rafael Correa, who has been none too pleased to serve as comic fodder for the group. CrudoEcuador's Facebook page has a received a wave of support on social media after President Correa publicly attacked it. The group's Twitter account was also later suspended.

On his regular TV-radio show, Correa recently mentioned CrudoEcuador, claiming it's part of a network “paid by the opposition to discredit the government.” Correa even threatened to expose the identity of CrudoEcuador's writers.

What Ecuador's president didn't expect, however, was that his comment would catapult the page's popularity to a 900-percent increase in followers. His criticism of the satirical account also unleashed a campaign of support with tags such as #YoSoyCrudoEcuador (IAmCrudoEcuador), #VenParaMemearte (ComeGetMemed), and #mashiberrinche (a word play on the name of Correa's Twitter account and the word for “tantrum”).  

This is not the first time Correa has attacked the freedom of expression. There was a similar incident earlier this year involving cartoonist Xavier “Bonil” Bonilla and the newspaper El Universio, which had to face legal action for publishing some drawings that the government condemned.  

CrudoEcuador's Twitter account was temporarily suspended on January 28 for several hours, due to complaints claiming it violated the social network's terms of service. In an interview with newspaper El Comercio, the writers behind CrudoEcuador said the account had been closed by “government trolls.” When the account came back online, this is what CrudoEcuador had to say:

“2 hours before: Twitter has suspended the account @CrudoEcuador. How nice they're sanctioning vulgarity and disrespect. Make them act with decency!

2 hours later: Did someone say #IShutDownCrudo? I'm sorry to say #StopSuffering and #ComeGetMemed.”

#IShutDownCrudo said… #SomosMas said… #AllYouNeedIsIMODIUM pic.twitter.com/94ttMUjeay — 

CrudoEcuador's followers didn't hesitate to welcome them back with a flood of tweets:

 Welcome back, @CrudoEcuador! thousands of Ecuadorians support you

Others adapted the #JeSuisCharlie hashtag to show their support:

#YoSoyCrudoEcuador (IAmCrudoEcuador) @CrudoEcuador I give you my unconditional support…

Some took the opportunity to criticize the government:       

@CrudoEcuador is back and in the face of @FAlvaradoE @SomosMasEc and all those nasty trolls who steal money.

Meanwhile, singer AU-D humorously tweeted:

I wasn't dead just drunk, hahaha @CrudoEcuador 

AU-D's meme caught on with some followers in the last few days:

1875: “My pen killed him.” | 2015: “My meme nailed him.” 

@CrudoEcuador your meme nailed him @MashiRafael pic.twitter.com/06VK9pbU5b

Organizations such as Internet Users of Ecuador and Fundamedios have called on President Correa to show greater respect for the freedom of expression and right to anonymity, which are rights found in Ecuador's constitution. 

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