No laughing matter — being a cartoonist in Latin America

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Source: Miami Herald

Xavier Bonilla may have the least funny job in comedy. A prolific and scathing cartoonist for El Universo, one of Ecuador’s major newspapers, he has been sued by the president, reprimanded by congress and flooded with hate mail for his work.

Even so, the threat he received last week was sobering. A note sent to the newspaper claimed to be from a 22-year-old Ecuadorean member of the Islamic State. The author took issue with Bonilla’s cartoon that depicted IS members destroying ancient statues for representing “infidel culture” and then complaining that their Internet connection was too slow to upload a video.

The letter said the next time Bonilla makes fun of the terrorist group, the author will call on his “friends in Syria” to “kill the wretch” and raid the newspaper “just like was done to the magazine Charlie Hebdo in France” — a reference to the terrorist attack in January that left 12 dead.

Almost a week after receiving the note, Bonilla, 50, who is better known by his pen name Bonil, said that the shock has subsided and that he finds the threat less than credible. Even so, he said it’s one more indication of the poisonous free-speech environment created by President Rafael Correa.

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