Ecuadorian Earthquake Relief: Social Media Trumps State Censorship
Citizens in Ecuador and in other countries have used Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to find help and provisions for the injured and those who have lost their homes.
Also, Skype announced that calls to Ecuadorian mobile and land lines would be free for several days.
Journalists and Ecuadorian citizens, meanwhile, have denounced that the government has stepped up media censorship in recent days to avoid independent coverage.
Régimen de terror y censura impuesto por Correa en Ecuador impide que los medios informen sobre la tragedia nacional causada por terremoto.
— Gonzalo Guillén (@HELIODOPTERO) April 17, 2016
“The regime of terror and censorship imposed by [President] Correa in Ecuador prevents the media from reporting on the national tragedy caused by the earthquake.”
Increíble ver en CNN lo q pasa en Ecuador por la: censura a los independientes y por el control de la información de medios gubernamentales!
— Agustin Salazar (@AgustinSalazarC) April 18, 2016
“It’s amazing to see through CNN what is happening in Ecuador due to the censorship of independent [outlets] and the information lockdown by state media.”
A que nivel ha llegado la censura del Gob que para acceder a informacion sobre terremoto en Ecuador hay que recurrir a la prensa extranjera
— Maria Aguilar (@mariadlpilarag) April 19, 2016
“The government censorship has reached such a degree that in order to get information about the earthquake in Ecuador we need to resort to foreign media.”
The Covers Duo, an Ecuadorian YouTuber couple, published a video requesting humanitarian aid for the earthquake’s victims. They also published a list of websites where concerned citizens can sign up to volunteer or make donations, and they linked to Google Person Finder, a tool that allows people to search for displaced persons in Ecuador.
Fundación Esperanza Canina, a non-profit organization that protects dogs, is receiving food and medicine donations for pets and animals that are astray after the earthquake. They also accept bank deposits and other resources from abroad.
Jorge Ulloa, a well-known Ecuadorian youtuber, posted a video on his channel EnchufeTV asking for aid for the earthquake’s victims.
Ayuda en Acción, a NGO active in over 20 countries, is receiving donations from anywhere in the world on its webpage, where they stat that the funds will be used to deliver basic food and hygiene kits.
Despite claims of government censorship on television, the Ministry of Health has created a Twitter hashtag (#EcuadorListoySolidario) through which it issues advice for dealing with the earthquake’s consequences. The ministry’s Facebook profile is also offering information about supply centers and telephone emergency lines.
The government is urging citizens to inform themselves through official Twitter accounts: @Ecu911 for emergencies, @Riesgos_Ec for risk assessment and @Seguridad_Ec for security issues.
— Enlace Digital (@enlacedigitalec) April 18, 2016
“We are collecting donations for the victims of Ecuador’s earthquake, please share.”
The earthquake, which reached 7.8 on the Richter scale, took place at 18:58 on Saturday, April 16, with the epicenter hitting a coastal region.
According to the latest official figures, at least 413 people lost their lives and thousands were injured after the natural disaster, which also left billions of dollars worth of damage to the country’s infrastructure.