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President Correa is not a criminal (but he is intolerant)

In a truly bizarre exchange that took place at Columbia University Friday, Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa responded to a question from CPJ's Senior Program Coordinator Carlos Lauría by calling him a liar.

The episode is all the more bizarre because President Correa had just finished making the argument that it should be a criminal offense to attack someone's honor. The president is fortunate that we disagree with him.

Lauría, who was the highly regarded U.S. correspondent for the Argentine weekly Noticias before joining CPJ in 2002 as Americas program coordinator, has traveled throughout the hemisphere in defense of press freedom and the rights of journalists. He just returned from Ecuador, where he released a meticulous and comprehensive report highlighting the sharp decline in press freedom in that country.

At the Columbia event, Lauría challenged the president on the case of El Universo, whose executives and a former op-ed editor have been sentenced to jail and hit with multimillion dollar fines because of their criticism of the president.

"Sir, you are lying and you are a liar," Correa responded.

Correa's reaction actually helped us to make our point that the president is thin-skinned, intolerant of criticism, and bullying.

Be that as it may, in our role as press freedom advocates we are sometimes subject to harsh attacks and we accept this. While calling someone a liar is unquestionably an attack on his personal honor, we categorically disagree with the president that it should be a criminal offense.

Instead, we intend to respond to the president's insults by engaging in a serious, sustained debate. That's what Lauría did in this interview with CNN en Español. Watch and judge for yourself who is telling the truth.

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Comments

I was listening to speech and questions. Lauria acussed Correa of manipulating the courts to win the case, which Correa called him a liar and that Lauria is reading too much Ecuadorian newspaper. Its ok to disagree with your president or call him dumb ect. Thats FREEDOM OF SPEECH. But to accuse a president of being a MURDERED without any proof. That's no opinion, that's SLANDER. Lets not get confused with Freedom of Speech with Freedom of Defamation. I challenged any journalist in the USA to call President Obama a murdered without any proof, and see what happens.

The case was checked by a professional Spanish professor and he determined that the article does not have any offensive material in it, but here in Ecuador we don't have any justice, judges are being moved and being intimided by this dictator. Please ONU, OEA, etc the fascism is being revived here, SAVE OUR REPUBLIC!!!!!

I agree with Carlos Sanchez. This article if anything, is biased or lacking information, as it fails to mention that the op-editor was sentenced to jail and the journal charged with such immense fine since they publicized false information that accused the President of being a murderer. Freedom of Speech should not be confused with Freedom of Defamation!
Unfortunately, in Ecuador the opposition is a relatively small but very powerful group, which happens to control most of the country's means of communication and has been doing so, for their own sake, throughout the past decades. They will do or say anything in order to get rid of the only Ecuadorian president that has done something to force bureaucracy and corruption out of the country.

@maria. Do you then think that Correa should be punished with prison for defaming CPJ's Laria?

The confusion rests with Correa and his supporters who want him to be above criticism ... and above the repressive standards he so agressively applies to his citizens. He is proved ovetr and over that he is willing to defame any individual who dares ask a question of him.