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February 27, 2012

Correa vs. the Universe Part 2: A pending pardon?

Last week, Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa hinted that a pardon might be in the works for El Universo newspaper. You might recall that Correa sued a columnist and three executives of the paper for a column they published a year ago.

The controversial libel case revolves around a scathing editorial that focused on the events of September 2010, when Correa was briefly taken hostage by protesting policemen. Four security officers died when they raided the hospital to free the president. A fifth person died at a separate location.

In his February 2011 editorial, columnist Emilio Palacio suggested that a future president could press criminal charges against Correa for ordering troops to attack a hospital full of innocent civilians.

Correa sued for libel and on Feb. 16, Ecuador’s high courts ratified the sentence, issuing three-year jail terms for Palacio and the executives, and ordering them to pay $42 million.

Over the weekend, Correa's office said he would be reading an "open letter" to the world about the fate of El Universo. Most think a pardon is in the works. You can watch it streaming live here.

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jim wyss

Inside South America is written by Jim Wyss, the South America bureau chief for the Miami Herald and McClatchy Newspapers.

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