Correa and Chavez vow to end 'press abuses'

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his Ecuadoran counterpart Rafael Correa announced they will propose the creation of an organisation that will "defend the rights of democratically elected governments against media abuses".


AFP - The presidents of Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela reaffirmed Sunday their commitment to a trilateral socialist alliance as they gathered here to celebrate Quito's anniversary of independence from Spain.

Ecuador's newly re-elected leader Rafael Correa vowed in the wake of his poll victory to take further steps to "radicalize" the country's socialist direction, in sync with constitutional reforms championed by his ideological kin, Bolivia's Evo Morales and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez.

"We will not change course," Correa said in a speech marking the victorious 1822 Battle of Pichincha, near present-day Quito, as he reaffirmed his country's commitment to integrating socialism in the region.

"On the contrary, we are going to deepen and radicalize our citizen's revolution, accelerating the process," he said.

Correa also questioned the existence of full democracy in the region.

"Despite being victors, we continue to maintain that Ecuador and Latin America still does not have democracy," he said. "At most, we have elections."

The three leaders boosted trade ties during multiple weekend meetings, with Venezuela and Ecuador on Saturday moving ahead on cooperation agreements in the energy, mining and banking sectors.

As the global economic downturn continues, Chavez also proposed accelerating socialist initiatives, within his country and as a strategic move to cement the leftist direction of South American politics.

"We will not delay, we will speed up the pace," he said, noting that the economic crisis "opens up the way to build a new world."

The ideological overtures came as the leaders called on the newly formed Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) to create a specific body that can defend governments against "press abuses."

At a joint press conference with Chavez on Saturday, Correa promised when he takes on the rotating role of UNASUR leader he would seek to battle press corruption that targets the continent's "lawfully elected governments."

With his Venezuelan counterpart's support, Correa vowed to "clean up" the country from a press he described as a "corrupt instrument of the oligarchy" and the main "enemy of change" in both nations.

"Ecuador has the full backing of Venezuela in its internal fight against this phenomenon, which borders on fascist madness that is open, blatant (and) cynical," said Chavez.

For his part Morales concurred with the sentiment but stopped short of publicly backing the proposal of a UNASUR mechanism, although he also joined in with lambasting his country's media.

Morales said that he will raise the issue when he soon meets with the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) which defends press freedoms.

The president said he plans to discuss with the IAPA "how much of the Bolivia media are corrupt liars."

On Sunday Morales also proposed that people suspected of acts of secession or treason in Bolivia are tried by military justice "because they are traitors of the motherland."

In recent months Morales, who joins Correa and Chavez as having tense relations with the United States, has accused Washington of conspiring with his opponents to incite violence in Bolivia, and even accused it of having a hand in an assassination plot against him.

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