No First Amendment In Other Countries? Expats: Beware!
Those of us from the U.S. enjoy a very high level of freedom of speech. That is not necessarily true in other countries, even if they are governed as a democracy. Ecuador is one of those countries.
A story comes to mind of a U.S. expat who moved to Ecuador about a year ago. He was keen on becoming an active part of the expat community and took part regularly by posting on the many Facebook expat exchanges.
The news had gotten out that one of the well-known local visa facilitators was being investigated for violations in their practice.
The well-meaning expat posted on one of the Facebook exchanges that he knew them well and was very disappointed to hear that they were being investigated for their improprieties.
He then pointed out what he thought was a confirmation of what they had done. It wasn’t too much later that the news got out that the facilitator had slapped him with a lawsuit for libel and defamation of character.
It is against the law to defame publicly the character of any person in Ecuador.
It was also just about a year ago that they sent a local city councilwoman to jail for 30 days for calling the mayor a liar and a thief.
I don’t think they put my fellow expat to task, however; he issued a very formal statement recanting his words.
I am not questioning these laws, however; it makes it much more difficult for expats to warn one another regarding some unsavory business practices that occur from time to time.
I guess the message is to keep it more private. Being sued by a citizen in the host country you have decided you want to be your home is something I am sure nobody wants to experience.
Have any legal tales to tell, libelous or otherwise? Your experience may help others avoid the same fate.
by: Cathy McKay