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JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

Filmmaker pulls his documentary on Rafael Correa after Ecuadorian government pressures U.S. broadcaster to "censor" it



The director of a documentary about Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa refused to air his film on a U.S. television channel after an official requested the station makes some changes in their broadcast, according to Fundamedios. 

In a statement published on the website Americas Forum, the Colombian-American journalist, Santiago Villa, claimed that the U.S. television channel América TeVe censored his documentary, "Rafael Correa: retrato de un padre de la patria" (Rafael Correa: portrait of a father of the nation), which was due to air on Nov. 23, because of pressure from the Ecuadorian government. 

In his statement, Villa said that the documentary "uses the protagonists' own words to address topics like the FARC's financing of Rafael Correa's presidential campaign in 2006, [...] the persecution of social and indigenous leaders, the government's campaign to against freedom of expression and legal harassment by the presidential family's former security chief." 

National Communication Secretary Fernando Alvarado responded to the accusations in an interview with the radio station Majestad. The secretary said that he and other officials were "invited" to talk with the owner of América TeVe, who proposed to the journalist that the documentary run for 50 minutes in 10-minute segments with the documentarians and government representatives debating between the broadcasts of the film, reported Fundamedios.  

Villa rejected the proposal in a letter addressed to the president of the channel, Omar Romay, arguing that there was already a compromise with the public over the broadcast of the documentary and that fragmenting it would weaken its quality and that the debates would interrupt the film's presentation, added the press organization. 

Still, journalist María Elvira Salazar aired the documentary in its entirety on her program, Canal 8, on GenTV last Friday, Nov. 30, according to Villa in an article for the newspaper El Espectador. 

The controversy surrounding the film continued when, according to Fundamedios, journalist Andrés Carrión was forced to end his program for the radio broadcaster Armónica after he interviewed Santiago Villa. Apparently, the interview troubled the station's owner, Jorge Yunda, who is a National Assembly candidate for the governing party, according to a tweet from Carrión. "Today is my last program of Returning with...Andres Carrion on radio Armonica. I say goodbye to the audience. A thousand thanks to all, an embrace," read the tweet in English.    

Former editor of the newspaper El Universo Emilio Palacio announced that his blog would carry the complete documentary, according to the newspaper La Hora. However, on Wednesday, Dec. 5, the front page of his blog said that the videos had been taken down from YouTube

The following video shows the documentary's trailer before Villa rejected the option to break up its presentation. 



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