Ecuador’s Rafael Correa Joins Twitter

July 30, 2011 3:42 pm 1 comment
Ecuador’s Rafael Correa Joins Twitter

Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa spoke at Santa Elena on Saturday. He became the latest Latin American head of state to launch a Twitter account the day before.

Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa became the latest Latin American leader to join the social media site Twitter, posting his first tweet on Friday evening.

“Hello Everyone, I’m in a meeting more boring than dancing with the mother-in-law, later I’ll write, I love you all very much, especially the poisoned ones (“envenenados”)!” Correa tweeted, using a disparaging term he has adopted to refer to the political opposition.

The account is named @MashiRafael, which means “Comrade Rafael” in the indigenous language of quichua, the president explained.

The account remains unverified, but it was announced by Ecuador’s Office of the Presidency, which also mentioned the launch of Correa’s Facebook fan page. The Facebook page link did not work, however, and it was not clear which of the several pages in existence the tweet referred to.

At the time of writing, Correa already had 11,365 followers and was only following two accounts: those of Hugo Chávez (@chavezcandanga) and Argentine President Cristina Fernandez (@CFKArgentina).

Correa joins a growing group of Latin American presidents who cultivate social media, particularly Twitter, as a means of engaging with their supporters directly, without depending upon traditional media channels. Mexican President Felipe Calderón has approximately 828,000 followers, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has 721,000, Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has 523,000 and Chilean President Sebastián Piñera has 487,000.

But the most popular account from a Latin American leader remains that of Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez, with 1.85 million followers. If Chávez is known for excoriating his country’s political opposition, who he refers to as “squalids” (“escuálidos”), his exclamation-pointed tweets are invariably upbeat and positive, dominated by shout-outs and “vivas!” to his political allies.

A couple of typical tweets from Hugo Chávez include:

“Oh my daughters and daughters of the Fatherland, all my past, present and especially future life is for you! Socialist Fatherland for our children!”

Ay mis niñas y niñas de la Patria, toda mi vida pasada, presente y sobre todo la futura, es para Uds! Patria Socialista para nuestros hijos!
@chavezcandanga
Hugo Chávez Frías

“Bravo President (of Peru) Ollanta (Humala)! Bravo for the Heroic Peruvian People! Viva UNASUR! viva Peru!”

Bravo Presidente Ollanta! Bravo por el Heroico Pueblo Peruano! Viva la UNASUR! viva El Perú!!
@chavezcandanga
Hugo Chávez Frías

Correa, on the other hand, has adopted a more contentious attitude toward social media. The following is a sampling of some of Correa’s tweets in translation, in chronological order from his first tweet Friday:

“Hello Everyone, I’m in a meeting more boring than dancing with the mother-in-law, later I’ll write, I love you all very much, especially the poisoned ones (“envenenados”)!”

Hola a tod@s, estoy en una reunión + aburrida q bailar con la suegra, luego les escribo, l@s quiero mucho, sobre todo a l@s envenenad@s!
@MashiRafael
Rafael Correa

“Did you read the editorial in the Washington Post? poor gringos, they don’t understand anything that happens in our America. Best.” The article Correa referred to was an editorial criticizing him for a lawsuit against Ecuadoran paper El Universo (the case is discussed below).

Leyeron el editorial del Washington Post? pobres gringos, sin entender nada de lo que sucede en nuestra America. Saludos.
@MashiRafael
Rafael Correa

“Now we’re even getting insulted by the international maffias, a sign that we’re advancing!”

Ya nos insultan hasta las mafias internacionales, señal de que avanzamos!
@MashiRafael
Rafael Correa

“The conversations about the Assembly elections continue. The more I learn about the men, the more I love my cat!”

Siguen las conversaciones para las elecciones en la Asamblea. Mientras mas conozco a los hombres, mas quiero a mi gato!
@MashiRafael
Rafael Correa

“The passion of twitter is dangerous! Now I’m running late to go to Santa Elena!”

La pasión del twitter es un peligro! Se me hizo tarde para ir a Santa Elena!
@MashiRafael
Rafael Correa

“Hi Hugo! I didn’t answer until I could verify that it was you. Take care of your health! We shall triumph!”

Chavez @ Hola Hugo! No te conteste antes hasta verificar que eras tu. Cuidate la salud!Venceremos!
@MashiRafael
Rafael Correa

Correa’s foray into social media comes amid increasing tensions with Ecuador’s established press. On July 20, an Ecuadoran judge found former opinion editor Emilio Palacio of El Universo and three of the paper’s owners guilty of defamation for publishing an article in February entitled “NO More Lies.”

The court ordered the paper to pay Correa an indemnity totaling $40 million and sentenced the defendants to three years in prison. The sentences remain suspended, however, because both parties appealed—the paper insists it is not guilty, while Correa says he wants the entire $80 million that he demanded in the lawsuit. The Ecuadoran president says he will donate the money.

Palacio’s article repeatedly refers to Ecuador’s elected president as a “dictator” and implies that he ordered the military to fire indiscriminately on the hospital where police held him during an uprising in September of last year.

Correa denied Palacio’s implication and likened it to accusing him of a crime against humanity. Correa then sued for libel under an Ecuadoran law regulating crimes of honor, which contrary to what has become the regional standard, carries jail sentences even in cases brought by public figures. Correa said he would drop the suit if the paper ran a correction disavowing Palacio’s statement, but the paper refused to do so, instead offering Correa space to write his own statement explaining why he thought the piece was incorrect.

The court’s decision was roundly condemned by press advocates both within and outside of Ecuador, including the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Inter-American Press Association and Reporters without Borders, all of whom called upon Ecuador to rescind libel laws punishable with jail sentences.

Correa insists, however, that he was treated unfairly and that his court cases—he has another in the works against journalists Juan Carlos Calderón and Christian Zurita, who accused Correa’s brother of Fabricio of corruption in a book titled “Big Brother”—will put a stop to what he called private media’s “reign of terror.”

Spanish speakers can hear Correa expound upon his views in the press conference that followed the court’s decision against El Universo.

Image: Presidencia de la República del Ecuador @ Flickr

1 Comment

  • yo ángel eduardo coronel, vivo en el tena señor presidente siga adelante la distancia me impide no estar este 30s junto con los compañeros del pueblo , quiero hacerle una pregunta compañero presidente, como se encuentra al año de la actitud de la policía cuando lo tenían secuestrado a usted y a la comitiva que lo acompañaba que dios lo bendiga siga adelante el pueblo esta con usted. pida que asomen los machos y sean responsables lo los echos saludos

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