Understanding Ecuador libel law – Gringo Visas suing me for libel
I wanted to make a general announcement about a subject that is important for any expat to understand. I am being sued for libel by Maite Duran, owner of Gringo Visas, and it seems likely that I will be convicted and go to prison. This might seem crazy to you, especially if you are from North America where we enjoy a certain right to freedom of speech. This freedom does not apply here in Ecuador and the libel law applies particularly to someone’s business. If something you say can hurt their business, even if your comments are totally true, you can be sued for libel. The consequences of a simple libel suit are a $12,000 fine and a minimum of 6 months in prison. I made a brief commentary on Facebook about an actual case against Maite Duran that involves my friend and housemate Stephen Bloom. My comments were rather conciliatory, as Maite had helped me with my visa process. I knew that she had a new baby, as I do, and I expressed my condolences, because if she is convicted of her crimes she would spend 7-10 years in prison. But I said nothing harsh or even critical about her as a person. I, like most gringos, don’t fully fathom the nature of this libel law. Again you could get food poisoning from a restaurant, and if you wrote in public forum about this and it hurt the business you could be sued for libel. It’s crazy! I have received so much support from other expats, especially from those who have had dealings with Maite Duran, and for this I am grateful. My sense is that if I am convicted and go to prison, as hard as this will be for me, my wife, and my baby, it will hurt Gringo Visas even more. Perhaps some justice will prevail in the end. If anyone would like more details please contact me via messenger on Facebook or to my email. Louisb333@hotmail.com. Thank you so much.