Ecuadorean satirist halts jokes after death threats

An Ecuadorean satirist, whose biting online political humour provoked the ire of President Rafael Correa, has announced that he's ceasing and desisting after receiving anonymous death threats.

PTI| Last Updated: Feb 21, 2015, 09:14 AM IST

Quito: An Ecuadorean satirist, whose biting online political humour provoked the ire of President Rafael Correa, has announced that he's ceasing and desisting after receiving anonymous death threats.

The man known as Crudo Ecuador directly addressed Correa on his website. "You won," he said. "My family comes first and I don't want to expose them to this mafia," he tweeted.

Crudo Ecuador, who has insisted on remaining anonymous, published a photo of a floral arrangement that he said arrived at his home with a threatening note.

The satirist, who works in advertising, told a news agency by phone that he has no intention of continuing with what he called a hobby.

"My entire family is worried," he said. "I'm abandoning my accounts so they leave me in peace."

He said defiantly on his website, however, that Correa hadn't really won because he "didn't respect the law or my rights" and because Crudo's work became very popular. Crudo gained 390,000 Facebook fans and 42,000 Twitter followers.

After Crudo, which means raw, posted a series of photo-montages poking fun at Correa, the president marshalled supporters online against critics he accused of defamation.

Human rights and press freedom groups say Correa, who was first elected in 2007, leverages state institutions to violate free expression. They consider a media law passed in 2013 by Ecuador's legislature, which is dominated by Correa allies, to be among the most restrictive in the Americas.

Under the law, a pro-government regulatory body is regularly wielded to strangle free expression, critics say.

In the most recent case, the regulator ordered the opposition newspaper El Universo to print a public apology for a political cartoon that the body said discriminated against a black former soccer star in Ecuador's congress.

The newspaper published the apology Friday to the Afro-Ecuadorean group that had complained. It was ordered to publish the apology for seven consecutive days.

The August 05 cartoon, by Javier Bonilla, pictured governing party lawmaker Agustin Delgado trying with great difficulty to read a speech in congress, something that had actually happened.

Bonilla later said he had every right to criticise Delgado's reading competency. Delgado is the leading goal-scorer in Ecuadorean soccer history. He retired from the sport in 2010.