Journalist Martín Pallares was fired on August 17 from the newspaper El Comercio, where he had worked for the past 13 years, over his personal Twitter account. According to freedom of expression organization Fundamedios, Pallares had been very critical of the Ecuadorian government in his tweets.
Journalist in #Ecuador fired over personal comments on Twitter http://t.co/KbzX0AJ8ym | @fundamedios
— IFEX (@IFEX) August 26, 2015
The newspaper officially says his dismissal was the result of his ignoring “cordial requests” made several months earlier to “comply with the best practices in social networks guidelines.” On his Twitter account, which has 15,800 followers, Pallares states, “What I say here is my sole responsibility and has no connection to my employer.”
Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa frequently talks about the journalist during his weekly Saturday addresses to the nation. According to freedom of expression network IFEX's annual report for 2013, “In at least ten separate occasions, President Correa has used adjectives such as ‘sick man, ink assassin, nuts, etc.’, to refer to the journalist.”
In an interview with the blog Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, Pallares recounted his firing and the realities facing media in Ecuador:
The international community has been more involved in issues in Venezuela or Cuba, perhaps because they are more attractive internationally. The situation in Ecuadoran is getting more attention, but I think that the international organizations should help all journalists because I am not the only one, there are others they have been critical and have been dismissed from their media outlets.
His dismissal comes after a state of emergency allowing for censorship of communications, including in social media, was declared regarding the Cotopaxi volcano eruption, which caused the evacuation of nearby towns. Also in mid-August, the government canceled the visa of French-Brazilian journalist Manuela Picq.
Journalism in the Americas blog reports that “hostility to journalists, the media and activists has strained Ecuador, and attacks on freedom of expression are becoming more frequent.”