Criminal defamation laws are actively enforced in Ecuador. As of 2011, approximately 18 cases in which journalists and media have faced lawsuits have been reported...
And how these laws might affect you?
From Cotacachi Expats Facebook page
New folks looking for facilitators often don't know about Ecuadorian denuncia law (The defamation law - LB). Basically, if someone in this group were to make a negative comment about a facilitator whose services disappointed them, they could be sued in court by that facilitator and lose the case - even if their complaint is totally true. Most expats know this so you are not going to hear from them about the problems some of these facilitators have caused for some expats."
Facilitator Dana C added this important caution to the thread:
"Most of us who have worked in this business for any length of time know who the problems are. But because of the libel law here we cannot say anything. It kills me when I see someone saying they will be going with someone that I know has had past issues or whom I know the staff at the visa office has issues with. I was doing visas years before the influx of expats for a university exchange program. I have watched it grow into a full blown industry. There are no regulations.
In the last couple of months I saw someone in the visa office count out $2500 to pay a facilitator for a pension visa. PLUS the government fee. Then she told him he could pay the $300 for the cedula the day he got that! I have done visas for 14 years, am in the visa office 3-4 days a week and had never seen this facilitator before.
When I went up to the window, the clerk asked if I knew her. I said no. He said he rejected the application because she had translated but not notarized the documents, and didn't know he needed a movimiento migratorio. And the facilitator didn't speak Spanish so didn't understand what he was saying. I always give free advice to those who ask me because I hate to see people fall into these traps. It is very upsetting to see this and not be able to say anything to help them for legal reasons."
My final notes:
Please use caution even with highly recommended facilitators because you won't read any complaints about them on a public forum like Cotacachi Expats. Someone who is praised for providing excellent service to one expat can be the same facilitator who missed filing deadlines and lost precious documents for another person. Complaints will be shared with you one-on-one in person or on chat, not on a Facebook page.
Unless you are so wealthy that you can afford to waste hundreds of dollars, do some comparison shopping before committing to one facilitator. Fees for the exact same service can vary by several hundreds of dollars, even a thousand or more.
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2 bedroom, 1 bath, totally remodeled