Cuban Journalist Whose Visa Was Withdrawn by Noboa’s Government Leaves Ecuador

Alondra Santiago was harshly criticised for using the Ecuadorian national anthem to make a parody of the president’s administration.

Alondra Santiago, in one of the videos of her channel, ’Ingobernables’ / YouTube/ Screen capture

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Quito, 28 June 2024 — Cuban journalist and actress Alondra Santiago left Ecuador on Friday, where she has lived for nearly 20 years, after the government of President Daniel Noboa withdrew her visa. The decision has been criticised as an attack on freedom of expression against a journalist who is critical of the government.

Noboa’s administration informed Santiago on Tuesday that it was withdrawing her permanent residency visa on the grounds of alleged acts against national security, which was based on a “secret report” prepared by the intelligence centre.

Through her talk show Ingobernables, which is broadcast on social networks and has a wide audience, Santiago had been critical of Noboa and in the last elections had expressed her sympathy for Luisa González, the candidate of Correísmo.

Weeks ago she was harshly criticised for using the Ecuadorian national anthem to make a parody of President Noboa’s administration.

In the last few hours I have taken the difficult decision to leave my country: Ecuador. And I’m not leaving deported, I’m leaving legally first.

In fact, the government broadcast the national anthem in a national chain (message to the nation) through the media on the same Tuesday that the decision was made known, with the previous phrase “out of respect for the country”.

In a video published on social networks by her lawyer Carlos Soria, Santiago explained that she had taken the decision to leave the country before the government deported her and while waiting for the legal actions presented by her lawyers to take effect and for her to be able to return to the country. The lawyer, who did not give details of the journalist’s destination, stated that she left “on an invitation to a forum” and that her return “is in the hands of a judge”.

“In the last few hours I have taken the difficult decision to leave my country: Ecuador. And I am not leaving deported, I am leaving legally, because I will not be part of the show that the government is putting on. I will not be part of the smokescreen they are putting up to cover up their incompetence and violence against the people,” said Santiago.

“In this last week I have seen the face of authoritarianism and violence first hand. They want to silence me. Today my physical, emotional and mental integrity is compromised. Today my life is in danger because of an abuser of power”, she added, referring to the head of state.

The 33-year-old journalist said that people close to her and who “know the president very well” had asked her to put herself in a safe place.

“Because he will not stop until he stops my voice. Today it is a deportation because I spoke out, because a woman journalist told him the truth, because a song annoyed him, because I exposed his incompetence, violence and arbitrariness”, she denounced.

“What will tomorrow be? What else will they invent? What means and people will they use for their ends? Although I fully trust that Justice will rule in favour of truth, law and freedom, I do not trust a government that is capable of manipulating information and inventing it to take me away from the life I have built in Ecuador for nineteen years,” she added.

Santiago described Noboa as a “democratic accident” and a “cardboard president” and said she would return to Ecuador, but until then she would continue to speak out. “Nothing and no one is going to stop my voice or my journalistic exercise,” she concluded.

The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) on Wednesday expressed its concern about this and its president, Roberto Rock, said that “it is necessary that, given the lack of precision about the reasons for the decision, the government explain clearly whether or not the revocation of the visa is related to the criticisms made by the journalist”.

For its part, the Ecuadorian press freedom organisation Fundamedios said that “this act constitutes an abusive use of state power and violates freedom of expression”.

The Alianza de Organizaciones por los Derechos Humanos de Ecuador (Alliance of Human Rights Organisations of Ecuador) also pointed out that this episode demonstrates an arbitrary exercise of power.

In March, Noboa pledged to guarantee freedom of the press and freedom of expression in his country by signing the Chapultepec and Salta declarations after a meeting with an international IAPA delegation at the Carondelet presidential palace in Quito.

Translated by GH


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