NGOs call on Lasso to veto communication law; UN rep to join negotiations; Palacios to seek reelection as mayor; Lasso to attend Petro inauguration

Aug 4, 2022 | 10 comments

The Network of Free Journalists is the latest non-profit organization encouraging President Guillermo Lasso to veto the Organic Law of Communication passed in July by the National Assembly. “If allowed to go into effect, this legislation would be an instrument for political revenge, just as the communication law enacted during the Rafael Correa regime proved to be,” the network said in a press release. “We call on the president to apply a total veto to the proposal and preserve the constitutional right to free speech and a free press.”

More organizations are calling on President Guillermo Lasso to veto the communication law passed by the National Assembly.

The indigenous environmental watchdog organization Pachamama also called on Lasso to veto the legislation. Pachamama attorney Cristina Melo claimed the proposed law violates the standards established by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. “Ecuador has agreed to abide by the human rights norms of the IACHR and this law, as it is written, violates those standards,” she said.

“A communications law cannot limit what members of the press or of civil society can express in any media unless it violates other laws,” she added. “Attempts to control free expression proved to be an instrument of repression in the past in Ecuador and we cannot allow this to be repeated.”

On Tuesday, Ecuador’s Ombudsman office offered objections to the communication law. Under the legislation passed by the Assembly, the Ombudsman is designated as the arbiter for complaints in free speech cases. “We are concerned that under the law we would be required to act as an enforcer and not as a protector of human rights, as expressed in our charter,” a spokeswoman for the office said.

United Nations rep to join negotiations
The Catholic Church team moderating talks between indigenous groups and the government announced two changes to the negotiation format on Wednesday. “Both sides have agreed to include a member of the United Nations rapporteurship team in the discussions,” the church said in a statement. “The rapporteur will assist in maintaining the pace and flow of the talks and report on results.”

In a second change, the church said that information will be exchanged between government and indigenous teams prior to all discussions. “We have encountered delays in the early days of the talks because the teams did not know the positions of the other side in advance so this alteration in procedure should streamline the process.”

On Tuesday, Conaie President Leonidas Iza complained of “wasted time” during the discussions and said negotiations were behind schedule. Chief government negotiator Francisco Jiménez agreed to both changes offered by church moderators. “We are in favor of all means of expediting the talks and believe the inclusion of the rapporteur will benefit the process.”

Palacios will seek reelection as mayor
Saying he has “more work to do” Cuenca Mayor Pedro Palacios announced Wednesday that he will seek a second term in the February 2023 elections. “We cannot interrupt the process we began three years ago,” he said. “The seeds we have planted are germinating and are beginning to bear fruit.”

Although the deadline for mayoral candidacy is a week away, Palacios has three announced opponents: Mario Castro, a retired National Police colonel; Luca Pallanca, an Italian expat, restaurant owner and philanthropist; and Verónica Abad, business owner and advocate for business interests.

Also expected to enter the race are Olympic gold medalist Jefferson Pérez, Adrián Castro, director of the National Transit Agency, and Byron Piedra, long-distance runner and officer of the Cuenca Sports Authority.

Lasso to attend Petro inauguration
Lasso confirmed Wednesday he plans to attend Gustavo Petro inauguration as president of Colombia on Sunday. He is one of dozens of Latin American presidents planning to attend the event in Bogota.

In a brief message, Lasso said he has had several conversations with Petro and considers him a “man of dignity and courage.” He added that he and Petro have agreed to exchange visits in the coming months.


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