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Is the CIA behind attacks on Ecuador’s press: Correa warns US Ambassador NAMM: “Don’t be a meddler”

 

This article was written with the help from the newspaper out of Ecuador, El Telegrafo: www.eltelegrafo.com..ec from May 5, 2013

On May 5th, 2013 the Head of State, Rafael Correa, criticized the foreign ambassador from the US who had joined a group of opposition journalists seeking to position the thesis in this tiny country of Ecuador, that there is no freedom of expression in the media.  In the past, current US Ambassador Adam Namm said Ecuador had a lot of freedom of expression, but this has all changed now. 

Given the fact that Bolivia’s President Evo Morales recently celebrated International Workers Day (May 1) by expelling the US Agency for International Development (USAID), whom he accused of operating under US State Department auspices (read CIA) and thus of seeking to “conspire against” the Bolivian people and his government, Namm’s collaboration must be placed in this context (http://www.dailycensored.com/bolivia-expels-usaid/#comment-16091).

Evo Morales explained that the expulsion of USAID was in direct protest to a recent remark by US Secretary of State John Kerry, who referred to Latin America as “the backyard of the United States”.  The term, as reporter Stuart Bramhall correctly points out, evokes strong emotions in the region, which experienced several U.S.-backed coups during the Cold War and direct attempts to cement dictatorship for the last three decades or more. The Bolivian leader has threatened USAID with expulsion in the past, asserting that its programs have “political rather than social” ends. He has also accused it of “manipulating” and “using” union leaders.  Now, USAID is history in Bolivia.

Couple all of this with the full-blown attack on Venezuela now that Chavez has passed and the world can expect to see continuing trouble-making by the CIA and its counterpart agencies in the Latin American hemisphere.  It has been going on, after all, for centuries.
During Saturday’s May 5th talk to the Ecuadorian nation, President Rafael Correa sent U.S. Ambassador Namm a message from Ecuador to “no metidito” (not to meddle)” and that “he (Namm) knows what he’s doing.”  The president made the biting remarks after learning that the diplomat, while abroad, participated this past Friday, May3rd, at a public event for the Day of Press Freedom, held enthusiastically by opposition journalists who are trying to manage and are interested in putting forth the idea that the country does not
respect freedom of the press or human rights.

Friday’s event found Namm at a location where he helped created a mural in which opposition journalists and the same ambassador then wrote messages in alleged defense of freedom of press in Ecuador.  This was organized by the Union of National Journalists (UNP) in the lower its headquarters in north Quito, the capital.   ”The only security of all is the free press” wrote Namm (www.eltelegrafo.com..ec).

The building that houses the UNP also has organizational offices for the government Fundamedios, which is funded by the US State Department and is responsible for issuing alerts against alleged attacks on journalists.   It appears it is a nest of intelligence activities.  Namm, who presented his letters of credentials on June 21, 2012 to then Vice President Lenin Moreno, in an interview with The Telegraph published on July 23, 2012, admitted at the time that Ecuador received funding from Fundamedios in the country ($ 300,000 in the last year), and through USAID but he stated that “there is much freedom of expression in Ecuador “ (ibid).

All this seemed to change overnight when on Friday, Namm gleefully joined various voices that demanded to respect the right of press freedom – the one he clearly stated earlier that Ecuador possessed.  The diplomat, who credits a 25-year career in the service diplomat, arrived in the Ecuadorian capital on May 30, 2012.

Ambassador Namm replaced former Ambassador Heather Hodges, an official whom the government of Ecuador asked to leave the country after diplomatic cables revealed by Wikileaks accused her of stating that the police in Ecuador were corrupt. She had met with a senior police chief behind the President’s back.  A couple of days later, the United States retaliated declaring the Ecuadorian ambassador in Washington, Luis Gallegos, persona non grata.

The CIA has historically been up to its neck in this type of activity

Most people understand that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is in direct contact with all ambassadors and embassies from the US worldwide.  I saw this with my own eyes when I worked for the Ambassador of China and Peru while living in Nicaragua during the year 1985 at the height of the contra war.  Then, the Ambassador from Taiwan worked closely with the CIA in providing information and the CIA station manager at the US Embassy was a supplicant and informer for the CIA.

The participation of the Ambassador Namm on May 3rd of this year in the mural writing and calls for more Ecuadorian freedom of the press coincides with another order placed this week by a U.S. official and the Human Rights Foundation calling for the protection three Ecuadorian journalists who are allegedly placed in danger: Janet Hinojosa, Martin Pallares and Miguel Rivadeneira (http://www.humanrightsecuador.org/2013/05/03/u-s-asks-to-protect-journalists-pallares-hinojosa-and-rivadeneira/).

This is not the first time that Ecuador has been accused by the Human Rights Foundation of curtailing freedom of expression.  For example, José Miguel Vivanco, Director of the Americas Watch division of Human Rights Watch (HRW), stated in July of 2012 regarding Julian Assange’s request for sanctuary in Ecuador:

“I think this is ironic that you have a journalist, or an activist, seeking political asylum from a government that has – after Cuba – the poorest record of free speech in the region, and the practice of persecuting local journalists when the government is upset by their opinions or their research” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jul/21/rights-groups-lost-plot-ecuador).

Much of the media simply swallowed Vivanco’s criticism whole and then ran with it without any critical analysis, perhaps not knowing a great deal about the media in Ecuador and not realizing that any of the other independent democracies in South America would also have granted asylum to Assange.

For example, when Assange was first arrested in 2010, then President Lula da Silva of Brazil denounced the arrest as “an attack on freedom of expression”.  And he criticized other governments for not defending Assange.  If it was clear to Lula and other independent governments that Assange was politically persecuted then, it is even more obvious now; but clearly not to Human Rights Watch orVivanco (ibid).

One would expect a bit better from a human rights organization that is supposed to be independent of any government’s political agenda, but Vivanco’s attack on Ecuador is inexcusable and as we will see, the organization is hardly independent. As anyone who is familiar with the Ecuadoran media knows, it is uncensored and more oppositional with respect to the government than the US media is.

So, it would seem that not only are the attacks on Ecuador’s “lack of freedom of expression in the media” unfounded, but the opposite is true.  If this is so, then who or what agency is fueling these scurrilous lies?

This all comes at the time that the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has mounted a similar political campaign against Ecuador, falsely charging:

“Correa’s administration has led Ecuador into an era of widespread repression by systematically filing defamation lawsuits and smearing critics (ibid).

It is interesting to note that a group of U.S. foreign correspondents founded the CPJ in 1981, right after the election of Ronald Reagan and two years after the revolution in Nicaragua and the creation of the US backed Contras.  CPJ’s board of directors has included in the past such prominent US journalists as Christiane Amanpour, Tom Brokaw, Anne Garrels, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Gwen Ifill, Jane Kramer, Anthony Lewis, Dave Marsh, Kati Marton, Michael Massing, Victor Navasky, Andres Oppenheimer, Clarence Page, Norman Pearlstine, Dan Rather, John Seigenthaler, and Mark Whitaker.   Many of these journalists have worked for years directly with the CIA and to cover-up CIA maltreatment and shenanigans in “America’s Backyard”; one can only wonder if the group is itself a front for the CIA.

We know that Human Rights Watch has been CIA connected.  According to its own website:

“The Moscow Helsinki Watch Group spawned ‘human rights’ groups in Eastern European capitals. Typically, Western countries pronounced themselves quite beyond the need of such patronizing supervision Spawned directly from the Moscow Helsinki Watch Group in Eastern Europe Capitals in 1988” (http://www.hrw-watch.com/).

And in its own rhetoric, found at the same website it proclaims:

“Human Rights Watch descended directly from these NGOs that poked about in the Soviet Union’s nether regions. Its New York base probably reflects its old CIA affiliations (ibid, emphasis mine).

What HRW and CPJ are cleverly doing is taking advantage of the fact that few people outside of Ecuador have any idea what goes on there; most cannot even find the small country on a map.  These groups, no doubt fronts for the CIA, then seize upon certain events to convey a completely false impression of the state of press freedom in Ecuador with the idea of causing more and more dissent to secure what was America’s “backyard” once again and then seize the country’s resources.

On June 19, 2010, according to the international press, the United States (read CIA) reiterated its willingness to fund groups in opposition in some countries in the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), which Ecuador is also a part of. According to Mark Feierstein, assistant administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean of the USAID, Washington prioritizes support for opposition forces who “are fighting for the rights human rights and democracy “in those nations” – this according to Prensa Latina news service.

Reporter Mark Weisbrot, writing last year for the Guardian UK, indicated that the whole thing smacks of hypocrisy at best and manipulation at the very worst for:

“To offer an analogy, it so happens that France and Germany have laws that make it a crime, punishable by fines and imprisonment, to lie about the Holocaust, and have recently prosecuted people under these laws. Personally, I agree with a number of scholars who see these laws as an infringement on freedom of expression and believe they should be repealed. But I would not try to pretend that the people who have been prosecuted under these laws – like the extreme rightwing leader Jean-Marie Le Pen of France – are themselves champions of free speech. Nor would I try to create the impression that such laws, or their enforcement, are part of a generalized “crackdown” on political opposition; or that France and Germany are countries where the freedom of expression is under attack from the government.

If I were stupid enough to do so, nobody would believe me – because France and Germany are big, rich countries that are much better known to the world than Ecuador.

Let’s look at one of the major cases that groups like Americas Watch and CPJ have complained most about. Last February, the nation’s highest court upheld a criminal libel conviction against the daily El Universo, with three directors and an opinion editor sentenced to three years in prison, and $40m in damages. President Correa announced a pardon for the convictions 13 days later – so no one was punished.

…to say that this case represents a “crackdown” on freedom of expression is more than an exaggeration. These people were convicted of libel because they told very big lies in print, falsely accusing Correa of crimes against humanity. Under Ecuadorian law, he can – like any other citizen – sue them for libel, and the court can and did find them guilty. Just as Le Pen in France was found guilty of having “denied a crime against humanity and was complicit in justifying war crimes” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jul/21/rights-groups-lost-plot-ecuador).

Correa hints that the US Embassy is financing the manufacture of falsities in an effort to create dissent

In the May 4, 2013 in a speech to the people of Ecuador, President Correa hinted that the US Embassy is financing activities related groups manufacturing false communication about Ecuador, arguing the country has a lack of freedom of expression.

Correa criticized U.S. double standards about defense of freedom of liberties, because he said that the US consistently defends the freedoms of corporations to act against the people themselves, such as the case of not reporting about US weapons and their gun manufacturers. Therefore, Correa made it very unambiguous to US Ambassador Namm and unrelentingly clear to Ecuador and its people that, “Here you will find dignity and sovereignty. Here we have not invaded and no, we do not torture as in Guantanamo” (www.eltelegrafo.com..ec).

Summary

Groups like Americas Watch and CPJ work assiduously with US intelligence (especially now that Venezuela has emerged from its election with its new President, Nicolas Maduro) to misrepresent what is going on in Ecuador to an unsuspecting public. These groups cast the battle as a heroic battle for freedom of expression against a corrupt government that is trying to “silence critics”, when on the contrary, it is a struggle between two political actors, one of which is the major corporate business media, whose unelected owners and their allies use their control of information to advance the interests of wealth and power that used to rule the country and wishes to again, and on the other side is a democratic government that is seeking to carry out its 21st Century  Socialist reform project, for which it was elected overwhelmingly to do.

In this context, it is difficult to take seriously these groups’ complaints that President Correa’s public criticism of the media is a human rights violation.  Especially when these groups never take a swipe at the corporate media in the US which conceals more than it reveals and works in tandem with the CIA to suppress and manipulate news both home and abroad.  To prove the point, Correa recently called out the hypocritical corporate sock-puppet press in the case of CNN (http://www.dailycensored.com/center-for-constitutional-rights-denounces-media-silence-a-former-cnn-journalist-confirms-the-manufacture-of-information/) over its censorship of news from Guantanamo.

The fact is that these so-called human rights organizations grossly exaggerate and misrepresent what is going on in Ecuador and in doing so they undermine their own credibility – even if they can get away with it in the mainstream US media.  And as UK Guardian reporter, Weisbrot correctly notes, it is equally disturbing that they cannot find the courage – as more independent human rights defenders, such as the Center for Constitutional Rights, have done – to defend a journalist who is currently being persecuted by the government of the United States and its allies.

The good news is that the majority of Ecuadorians understand the role of these “non-profits” who work day and night to undermine their votes of February 17th , 2013, when they overwhelmingly elected Rafael Correa and a majority assembly to boot.  So do the majority of other citizens of Latin America.  One can only wonder or perhaps wait, until the role and lies of the CIA in all of this much-to-do about nothing is exposed as the propaganda that it is.

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About the author

Dr. Danny Weil is an investigative journalist, author and public interest attorney who practiced public interest law for more than twenty years and has been published in a case of first impression in California. He received the Project Censored “Most Censored” News Stories of 2009-10 award for his article: “Neoliberalism, Charter Schools and the Chicago Model / Obama and Duncan’s Education Policy: Like Bush’s, Only Worse,” published by Counterpunch, August 24, 2009 and again in 2013 for his 2012 article, “HR 347 Would Make Many Forms of Nonviolent Protest Illegal” (http://www.projectcensored.org/top-stories/articles/10-hr-347-would-make-many-forms-of-nonviolent-protest-illegal/). He writes profusely on education and for-profit predatory colleges.