“That’s life, Rafael. You, with all the powers. I, from the shadow and persecuted, defeated you ”. In his Twitter account, where more than 62 thousand people are awaiting their daily publications, Fernando Villavicencio reaffirms that his is a victory. The Ecuadorian journalist and activist no longer writes hidden from some remote place in his country, as at some point he was forced underground, but from Lima.Follow @socie_ECpe
Villavicencio is in our capital waiting for the chancery to solve the request for political asylum he presented on April 18. In this, he argues that he has suffered a fierce prosecution of the president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa. A harassment that never managed to put him behind bars and that – he says defiantly in social networks – is the biggest defeat for the outgoing president
—The 30-S and the injurious process—
The story between Correa and Villavicencio goes back to 2007. In that year, the journalist reported an alleged fraud in the concession of the Palo Azul oil field to the Brazilian company Petrobras. Villavicencio said at the time, although Correa initially accepted the complaint, then gave in favor of Brazilians due to pressure from the government of Lula da Silva. Since then, as he has pointed out in repeated interviews, he has been targeted by correismo.
However, his judicial journey began only on September 30, 2010, when the Ecuadorian Government faced a police strike in Quito. During the protests, a tear pump hit Correa, who was taken to the Police Hospital. From there, he described the event as an attempted coup d’etat, so the Armed Forces initiated an operation to “rescue him.” The army entered the hospital with bullets in between, which caused the death of ten people.
A year after the 30-S call, Villavicencio – along with Assemblyman Cléver Jiménez and activist Carlos Figueroa – requested that the President be investigated for alleged crimes against humanity for ordering the deployment of a military operation in an urban hospital . The National Court of Justice (CNJ) filed the complaint and described it as “reckless and malicious.” Correa contradicted them. In April 2013, the justice sentenced three to 18 months in jail and the payment of US $ 47,000 each in favor of the president. The ruling was appealed and the prison was not effective.
—Exile and file Chevron—
In October 2013, Villavicencio published a report entitled “The Chevron File”, in which he presented a possible conflict of interest in the contentious process between the Ecuadorian State and the oil company. Due to this report, on December 26 of that year, 12 police officers raided the journalist’s home in Quito by order of the prosecutor’s office, to seek evidence of an alleged espionage against Correa and other officials.
According to the government, Villavicencio had “hacked” them to obtain reserved information. After these events, in January he traveled to Washington to request the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) to annul the ruling of the 30-S case. This entity granted him a precautionary measure after the sentence was ratified with effective imprisonment. The IACHR measure established a request to Ecuador to suspend the effects of the sentence. But on his return to Ecuador, in March 2014, the decision of the IACHR was discarded by Correa and his capture was ordered, so that the journalist took refuge in the Amazonian community of Sarayaku until the sentence prescribed.
—The route to Peru—
The judicial proceedings against Villavicencio did not stop. In August 2016, Correa sued him for insolvency, in order to force him to pay the US $ 47,000 that the justice established as reparation in the judgment of Case 30-S. “We canceled the amount, as they threatened to seize us,” explains Verónica Sarauz, the journalist’s wife, to El Comercio.
In March of this year, after the publication of a book by Villavicencio, entitled “The oil holiday”, death threats intensified. One day after the second round in Ecuador, on April 3, the couple took a vehicle and headed south. They crossed the border at Aguas Verdes and reached Talara; from there they boarded the plane that brought them to Lima.
Sarauz will soon return to Ecuador to be with his children. “They have not seen their father for several months. This has been very difficult, but here we are. Victorious against Correa. I trust that the Peruvian Government will grant asylum to my husband, ”she says. In recent days, Villavicencio has shared a suggestive image on his Twitter account. It is a graphic that, defiantly, includes a phrase that for some would summarize its history well: “Being honest is very dangerous.”Tweets by Sociedad_ECpe