Critics of Ecuador's President Rafael Correa have found solidarity and strength from an unlikely source: comedian John Oliver.
On Sunday night, the host of HBO’s Last Week Tonight turned his blistering wit against President Correa for declaring a "Twitter war" against those who dare to criticize his government online.
Oliver blasted Correa for being overly sensitive to criticism, saying "If your skin was any thinner you'd be a taint."
"President Correa, if you are this sensitive, Twitter and Facebook might not be for you," Oliver said. "And to be honest, being a world leader might not be for you."
The comedian, who also mocked Correa's smug smile ("You look like every real house wife's third husband"), ended his 4:30- minute commentary by posting Correa's Twitter address and asking viewers to abuse him even more.
In Ecuador, opponents of the president are celebrating Oliver as a hero for standing up to Correa's online bullying and repeated attacks against free speech.
One Twitter user went so far as to call Oliver's sketch "divine justice," while journalists noted that the comedian's take-down of President Correa undermined the country's $3 million effort to promote itself with a Super Bowl ad one week earlier.
Correa didn't appreciate Oliver's efforts. He responded with his own attempt at comedy.
"An English comedian makes fun of President Correa. Has there ever been an English comedian? Are you sure?"
Correa has been escalating his online offensives in recent weeks, deploying a volunteer cyber army to defend his reputation online and publicly identifying his harshest critics on national TV — a tactic that was excoriated by Oliver.
Correa argues that Ecuador’s corporate-owned media outlets have embarked on a “dirty” campaign to destabilize his socialist government. The president claims that some Twitter users are part of that so-called “media war” against his administration.
Correa’s supporters have come to the president's aid, calling Ecuador's recently converted fans of John Oliver's show “wannabes” who gobble up anything made in the U.S.A.
Others jokingly came to the defense of Tiko Tiko, a famous Ecuadorean clown who was mocked by Oliver for appearing on one of Correa’s weekly TV shows. Oliver had a similar dancing clown appear in his HBO sketch.
Tiko Tiko was the top trending topic on Ecuadorean Twitter on Tuesday.
Manuel Rueda is a correspondent for Fusion, covering Mexico and South America. He travels from donkey festivals, to salsa clubs to steamy places with cartel activity.