Tuesday, July 26, 2005
From Democracy Now!
Some are calling it Latin America's al Jazeera. This weekend, a coalition of leftist governments, media outlets and movements, led by Venezuela, officially launched Telesur - a new Latin America-wide satellite TV network.
Just after noon on Sunday, Telesur began broadcasting a pilot service from studios in Caracas with a team of 25 journalists in nine regional bureaus presenting news "from a Latin American perspective".
The channel's first news program began with a critical report on the failure of the humanitarian mission in Haiti followed by a story on the plight of refugees in Colombia.
The station is being launched with help from other Latin American governments including Argentina, Cuba and Uruguay. The driving force has been Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, whose government has contributed 70 percent of Telesur's financing and owns 51 percent of the channel. The channel's board members include a group of international supporters including the actor Danny Glover, the writer Tariq Ali and Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel.
But even before its launch, Telesur was being attacked in Washington. Last week the House passed an amendment calling for the U.S. to begin broadcasting its own channel into the region to counter Telesur.
Chavez responded by saying, "we will take measures to neutralize the attempt, and what we will have is a kind of electronic warfare."
The flimsy justification for force-feeding U.S. government and CIA propaganda onto the airwaves which is used for Cuba – that the government does not allow opposing views in the media – should be laughable to anyone who has spent one day in Venezuela.
Newsstands and television stations overflow with big-budget anti-Chavista media. Not a single journalist has been jailed or censured under Hugo Chávez’s presidency, while government censorship was rampant under several previous rightwing administrations.
Mack’s bizarro-world version of the media reality in Venezuela is reminiscent of other proposals recently passed in the house related to the war on drugs.
And imagine, for a moment, the reaction in the U.S. if the Venezuelan government started beaming its own state broadcasts into the United States, with no license, interfering with domestic airwaves and essentially stealing pieces of the radio spectrum so prized by the commercial interests that now run the FCC. The FCC does not tolerate such antics from even small local community radio stations, let along foreign governments.
Dear U.S. Congress: Thanks a bunch, guys. This is just great work. Really good government. We've already been linked to the failed military-corporate coup against Venezuela's democratically elected president. And now we're on record as trying to impose our technology and point of view on it and its neighbors. That's just swell. This at the time we're already botching our empire expansion project in Iraq. Any other bright ideas you're working on that we should know about?