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Ecuador Media Outlet Funded By USAID, NED Closed

Secom is accused is leading an “attack against the press” but local journalists say Fundamedios was biased and violated their terms of operation. | Photo: Reuters 

Two journalist guilds in Ecuador have expressed support for the legal action taken by the National Communications Secretariat (Secom) against the NGO Fundamedios, when the government body decided to move forward with dissolving the organization’s operating license.

The Journalists Association of Guayas and the National Federation of Journalists of Ecuador (FENAPE) expressed support for the move, saying Fundamedios deviated from its founding principles, according to local media Sunday.

Last week, Secom decided to withdraw the Fundamedio’s license saying it had deviated from its stated mission and continuously intervened in political matters – which is prohibited by both Ecuadorean law and the organization’s own internal statutes.

According to Secom, Fundamedios engaged in “partisan political activities” by sharing opposition-linked material on its social media accounts, publishing articles unrelated to its stated mission and inserting itself into political debates in the country in support of opposition government figures.

Fundamedios has received tens of thousands from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Endowment for Democracy, two U.S. government institutions that have been accused of funding opposition groups in Latin America.

Secom’s action has been deemed controversial by local opposition members and the U.S. State department, who have deemed it an “attack against the press.”

RELATED: Ecuador’s Communications Law: Democratizing the Airwaves

Fundamedios insists that it did not violate its operating mandate, which, according to their website, “is to support media and journalists through its network of monitoring threats to freedom of expression and association.”

However, according to the two journalist guilds, Fundamedios only promoted the freedom of expression for certain institutions, or large organizations and also failed to support local journalists in their offices.

“Fundamedios has not fulfilled its basic objective of defending the rights of professionals who work as journalists in the country … Our journalists’ union … regrets that Fundamedios hadn’t intervened when the rights of so many fellow journalists were violated, in various other media,” said the Association of Journalists.

The association added that this “unfortunately shows a course biased by the foundation, Fundamedios.”

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