New York, October 13, 2019 — The Committee to Protect Journalists today condemned attacks by unidentified individuals on news outlets in Ecuador.
Yesterday, in Quito, the capital, a group of individuals threw rocks and smashed windows at the offices of TV broadcaster Teleamazonas and burned a bus and a van parked at the office, according to reports by the broadcaster and local free expression group Fundamedios. A group also threw rocks at the offices of daily newspaper El Comercio and burned tires at the office’s entrance, according to the Fundamedios report.
At least 20 staffers were trapped inside the Teleamazonas office during the attack, according to the broadcaster’s report. Neither outlet reported any injuries in the attacks. The attacks occurred amid protests that have taken place throughout Ecuador in recent weeks, but the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, one of the main groups organizing the protests, tweeted a statement denying any connection with the groups.
“Widespread protests do not give license for attacks on members of the media; authorities in Quito should conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into the attacks on outlets there,” said CPJ Central and South America Program Coordinator Natalie Southwick. “Committing arson and damaging outlets’ offices are completely unacceptable, and such attacks must stop immediately.”
Private TV channel Ecuavisa and several state media outlets evacuated their Quito offices in response to the other incidents and threats, and both Ecuavisa and Teleamazonas are now broadcasting from the southern city of Guayaquil, according to Fundamedios.
Several journalists have been detained and dozens have been injured since the Ecuadoran government announced its plan to end fuel subsidies, sparking protests that began on October 3, according to CPJ reporting.