An Ecuadorian cartoonist has been targeted by his government for mocking a congressman from Rafael Correas ruling party, an incident that comes in light of last week’s deadly attack to the staffers of France’s Charlie Hedbo magazine.
Bonilla, or Bonil as hes known by his pen name, is being sued over a photo montage he made to poke fun at the dubious qualifications of some of Ecuadors lawmakers. It’s an ongoing problem that sheds light on the battles for freedom of the press Latin America.
The media are supposed to be the watchdog of democracy; and while the terrorists in France tried to kill that dog, the government here is trying to pull out its teeth, veteran cartoonist Xavier Bonilla told Fusion in a phone interview from Quito.
The cartoon pokes fun at Agustin Delgado, a former soccer player with no college degree, who won a seat in congress in 2013. The first box shows Delgado stuttering through a speech, where he says people think hes a poor guy when they hear him talk, but in the second box he says that no one thinks hes poor once they see how much money he earns as a congressman.
Ecuadorian Cartoonist is targeted by Correa
In America, this cartoon would not be a problem. But in Ecuador, a country whose government believes itself invisible, officials are outraged to the point of litigation. The newspaper Bonilla worked for, El Universo, is expected in court to face accusations of promoting socio-economic discrimination.
The charge will be reviewed by Ecuadors powerful communications regulator, Supercom. If Supercom finds Bonilla guilty, his newspaper will have to issue apologies for seven consecutive days in the same section where it publishes its cartoons. In addition, if Bonilla is found guilty of any more future acts of discrimination, his paper will be required to pay ten percent of its trimestral earnings in fines, or around $500,000.
Ironically one of Bonilla’s recent cartoons in the daily publication and website was a #YoSoyCharlieHedbo cartoon in solidarity with the cartoonists who work at Charlie Hedbo.
Bonillas hearing was originally set for January 16th, but two days after the Paris attacks, it was inexplicably moved to next month.
This is not the first time the government tries to censor Xavi Bonil. In February of last year he was found culpable of twisting the truth and encouraging social unrest, for another unrelated cartoon.
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