Ecuador’s newly seated Council of Citizen Participation and Social Control (CPCCS) voted Wednesday to dismiss Carlos Ochoa, director of the controversial media watchdog agency Supercom. The council ordered a search to begin immediately for a replacement.
“Having established an inability to exercise his public duties, the council has voted to terminate the administrative duties of Carlos Alberto Ochoa,” read the CPCCS resolution written by member Miriam Félix López.
Established during the Rafael Correa presidency, Supercom — officially the Superindendencia de Comunicacion – had become in a lightning rod for criticism from international and human rights and journalist organizations for handing out fines and sanctions against newspapers and broadcast media that the government claimed violated agency rules. Critics claimed Supercom was an attempt by the Correa administration to muzzle a free press.
In one case that garnered international headlines, Supercom fined a cartoonist for a Guayaquil newspaper.
In October, Ecuador’s comptroller office charged that Ochoa had illegally given out $94,000 in bonuses while he managed the government-owned Gamavision television station. Gamavision was ordered dissolved last week after amassing millions of dollars in debt.
The dismissal of Ochoa is CPCCS’s first major action since interim members were selected last week by the National Assembly. In the February 4 referendum voters ordered the old council members dismissed