Rafael Correa’s Government has long used corrections as a mechanism to impose the official truth about various topics in the media. The ruling party used this tactic again in mid-March 2016, when the newspapers El Comercio, El Universo and La Hora were required to publish, on their cover and inside pages, corrections to articles about the $130m debt owed by the Government of Ecuador to the Society for the Fight Against Cancer (Solca for its Spanish acronym). Following the publication of the articles, the Ministry of Health maintained that no such debt exists and issued correction orders. This came after President Rafael Correa ordered the Ministry of Communication to take action against the media outlets which published the news of the Solca debt.
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For the Government, the three newspapers distorted ‘the truth’ about Solca and acted ‘irresponsibly’ for not checking the information with the authorities.
In fact, El Comercio reported that it had requested detailed information from the Ministry of Health on how much it had paid to Solca, as well as statistics on the debt, but received no response. The newspaper also stated that the Minister of Health, Margarita Guevara, had convened a press conference on the matter, but had not permitted any questions. Meanwhile, El Universo explained that the original article referred to statements that President Rafael Correa had given on the situation.
The Government doesn’t restrict its use of corrections to the print media. On March 14, the Minister of Public Administration, Pedro Solines, and the Minister of Health used more than an hour of the radio program Exa-Democracia, hosted by journalist Gonzalo Rosero, to give the official version of the same story. Their appearance was a rebuttal to an interview given by former Congressmember Enrique Herrería.