Español The Facebook page Crudo Ecuador (Raw Ecuador), dedicated to political satire and one of the main reasons why president Rafael Correa initiated a social-media battle in the country, announced on Thursday, February 19, that it is shutting down — including the associated website and Twitter accounts.
“Well, this is the end. #YouWon @MashiRafael.”
The administrator of the site, who remains anonymous to the public, has made this decision after claiming a threat against him and his family. He shared that strangers sent a bouquet of flowers with an anonymous note to him, in which they include his full name, details about his wife and children, and “warn” that he is being watched as long he continues with his “not so appropriate” activities.
“After feeling so much pressure and harassment by the government towards me, a citizen who simply exercised his right to speak in a space where, according to the law, we can still do it, I have decided withdraw from the battle initiated by you, Mr. President. Feel victorious, you won,” reads the statement released in Crudo Ecuador’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.
However, the statement emphasizes that President Rafael Correa did not “win the battle,” because of his constant attacks on him, or thanks to his war against government critics on social networks: “You won, but because I withdraw.”
“I withdraw because I cannot stand the harassment, this pressure of being investigated, persecuted, and wanted as criminal, just because of expressing an opinion and doing humor, and because you will never be able to understand how a citizen can have hundreds of thousands of followers by using only the head, not the wallet.”
Finally, the site manager thanked his followers for their support: “I hope you understand that in a country where human rights are violated publicly, I can’t go on.… One is too tiny in front of state power.”
Crudo Ecuador attached a photograph of the bouquet and the note he received during the carnival holiday, which reads:
“It’s good to have the opportunity to greet and congratulate you on such a beautiful family, your wife … and what to say about your two beautiful children … With satisfaction I must confess that it is my pleasure that you are in the province of Guayas, enjoying a well-deserved holiday, which will bring a moment of relaxation to you, which means a parentheses to so much stress that your ‘not so appropriate activities’ demand. Believe me, you will always have our interest and attention, as long as your courage lasts.”
“As much as I want to continue, my family comes first, and I will not expose them to this mafia.”
According to Fundamedios, an NGO that advocates for free speech and who was the first to publish Crudo Ecuador’s statement, during the holiday, the site manager had taken refuge in the house of a relative outside his usual place of residence, after receiving threats through social networks.
“No one outside his close family circle knew his whereabouts,” they asserted.
Furthermore, Fundamedios assures that he had preferred to defend his right to anonymity, but “government supporters had identified the site administrator, his wife, and even posted on Twitter photos of a possible stalking of him in a mall.”
#YouWon (#UstedGanó) was the hashtag that hundreds of Twitter users used to speak on the matter, and mostly to show their support for Crudo Ecuador. In less than five hours, it became the national trending topic.
“#YouWon as cowards do: sowing terror, chasing the weak, appropriating from external resources for personal vendettas.”
— Pamela Troya ???? (@pametroya) February 20, 2015
Correa, you will receive tomorrow the “flowers” that Crudo Ecuador received today, but coming directly from the people. #YouWon for now.”
— Ricardo Flores (@RicardoFloresG) February 20, 2015
“#YouWon to Crudo Ecuador (maybe), but apparently did not realize what you lost. The Mashi (Correa( is naked, though he does not know it.”
David Focil is another opponent of Correa on social media, still willing to speak out, and shared that “Its really a sad day for liberty here in Ecuador. It really hits close to home how they are intimidating people for speaking out.”
Edited by Fergus Hodgson.