Gabriel González, better known on the Internet as @CrudoEcuador, never imagined that his Facebook page, where he uploaded memes about Ecuadorian politics, would gain over 400,000 followers. And he especially never thought that these memes would displease Ecuador's President Rafael Correa so much that the leader would mount a campaign to intimidate and disparage him.
However, that is exactly what happened. When his real identity was revealed on social media, Crudo Ecuador was then forced to stop publishing satirical memes. Silvia Viñas, former Latin America editor for Global Voices, narrates the case of Crudo Ecuador for Radio Ambulante.
An account on Twitter uploaded a photo of González that he himself never put on any social network. In fact, he was unaware that it had even been taken:
Entonces ahí se nota que me han estado siguiendo para tomarme una foto. Entonces ahí es cuando yo cojo y ya me asusto, ¿no? Digo, oye, ya ves por la ventana, ves si hay algún carro raro o alguna cosa, ¿no? Y mi familia también se empieza a asustar pues, porque se supone que yo estaba totalmente confiado en que no iban a pasar estas cosas ya que el presidente había dicho que yo no había cometido ningún delito.
That's when I knew that they had been following me in order to take that picture. That's when I got scared, you know? I mean, hey, you're now looking out the window, you check to see if there some strange car, or anything else, you know? Also, my family started to get scared, well, because supposedly I was totally sure that these types of things weren't going to happen, seeing as how the president had said that I hadn't committed any felony.
Nevertheless, the same intimidation tactics against González were also used against other social network users who had upset President Correa, some of whom he revealed their full name and age on national radio and television. This is what González had to say:
No fue solo contra mi página, sino en realidad el presidente sí está ganando mucho por medio del miedo que está metiendo en la gente. Si es que dejamos que esto continúe, cada vez vamos a tener menos lugares donde decir lo que pensamos –así sea que estemos equivocados o no estemos equivocados, ¿no?
It wasn't only against my page. Actually, the president is gaining a lot by generating fear amongst the people. If we continue to let this happen, little by little we're going to have fewer places where we can say what we think —whether we're wrong or not, right?
You can listen to the podcast with English subtitles below:
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