By Rayuela Radio
President Rafael Correa once again lashed out at a comment on a social network. This time it was the turn of Ecuavisa TV station journalist Tania Tinoco, who published a tweet on her personal account questioning the Assembly’s adoption of the Labor Fairness Act, which eliminates the State’s obligation to contribute 40% to the Ecuadorian Social Security Institute (IESS). This has caused several sectors to raise the alarm about a possible underfunding of this entity, which could lead to a future crisis when it won’t be possible to pay pensioners their dues. Tinoco tweeted blaming the Assembly members (91 of them exactly who voted in favor of the law) for the consequences. In response, the president, in his customary Saturday chain broadcast and with his usual sarcastic tone said: “Is Tania Tinoco a journalist or not. I think she is not even a journalist. Now she has become a fortune-teller, she has said we have sent the IESS down a cliff”.
Rayuela Radio contacted Tinoco and this is what was said about the issue:
Did you expect a massive show of support from Ecuadorians after President Rafael Correa asked you to resign?
I never imagined this massive support from Ecuadorians and I feel very flattered. However, because of the situation we are living, this massive support is really a symptom that something else is going on. It has been the opportunity to show that most Ecuadorians disagree about how things are being run with regard to freedoms. And journalists are complaining, this a right we have as citizens.
The president, however, has stated that, on the contrary, there are better media and there is a better journalism. Is this true?
If it were, we would not be seeing such a massive response. Let’s forget that it is me, Tania Tinoco, but let’s analyze how it is that a journalist gets so much public support from people – young and not so young people – who are now daring to say what they are thinking and they are daring to question whether we are really living in a democracy where rights are respected. Social networks and Internet content are not supposed to be regulated, but we are seeing an overreaction when through social networks something is said or written that the regime does not approve. It is hard to believe that a 140-character tweet resulted first in the broadcast of a national chain, followed by a disparaging comment in the presidential broadcast. That’s why the support shown is disagreement about the way the press is being treated.
It was precisely a tweet from your account that triggered this request for your resignation: “We must not forget, 91 members of the Assembly have pushed the IESS off a cliff, acting against 3 million affiliates”. Many believe that a journalist like you should not make such comments or adopt such a clear position. What do you think about that?
As an Ecuadorian, as a journalist, I have the right to doubt. And my thoughts are very simple. If in a golden age, when oil cost USD 100 per barrel, the IESS was not paid, can we trust that it will be paid in silver, bronze or clay ages? Therefore as a citizen and as a journalist I have the right to doubt, or is that right also forbidden? I have not used the screen of Ecuavisa TV station, where I work, because I understand that I must stick to the need to inform, but in my personal Twitter account, not a corporate account, I have the right to express my doubts because we all have the right to express our opinions, because I am an Ecuadorian as well as being a journalist. The president wanted to discredit me, he knows I am a journalist.
The president has said it was a political response because you assumed a political position.
He has the right to think whatever he likes, but so do I, I also have the right to express my doubts.
A few weeks ago the President announced a battle in the networks. What do you think about this?
It is an attempt to silence critical voices. But the government is losing the battle in the social networks and when it uses humor, despite having a troll center. Increasing numbers of Ecuadorians are using the networks, many of them are young people with no fear of saying what they think. This tells us as journalists that what we are doing, complying fully with our role, has struck a chord. We must continue and not give in; we must go on doing our work. We go to sleep with a clear conscience, knowing that what we write or say is true.
Do you feel that never before has there been such systematic pressure against journalists?
Of course. And any journalist who tells me that there is no censorship or that he does not practice self-censorship is not telling the truth. Often in newsrooms editors do not have the last word, lawyers do, because it is necessary to think whether this or that article will generate legal proceedings or not. Journalists often choose to practice self-censorship. There is a law, however, that requires us to cover all events of public importance.
Has the TV station asked you to tone down?