Chavez Plans Al Jazeera
Type Network for Latin America.
By Jim Meyers
Friday, May 6, 2005. America-bashing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is
backing a new Al Jazeera-style satellite TV network that will broadcast
throughout South America.
Critics fear that the network could become a mouthpiece for the Marxist
strongman, who in December seized control of all broadcast media in his
oil-rich country. Telesur, short for "Television of the South," is
billed as a commercial-free counterbalance to North American media and
is set to begin broadcasting in several weeks, according to The
"Soon we will have Telesur, a channel with information for South
American countries, because it is not possible that Venezuela and other
southern countries depend only on information from CNN," Chavez said
during a March press conference.
Chavez has enlisted support from left-leaning governments in Argentina,
Uruguay and Brazil.
Chavez has already developed a new anti-American axis with Fidel
Castro's Cuba. Tens of thousands of Castro's agent are believed to be in
Venezuela helping Chavez maintain dictatorial control over his oil-rich
Telesur's debut comes amid reports from a Venezuelan official that Al
Jazeera is expanding its news coverage from Latin America and plans to
set up a regional bureau in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas.
Like Al Jazeera, which receives financing from the Qatar government,
Telesur will rely in large part on money from Venezuela, which supplies
more than 10 percent of American oil.
Chavez opponents worry that Telesur is the latest attempt to spread
anti-American feeling from the man who calls himself the "second Fidel"
and has already:
Blasted what he called American "imperialism" and attempts to dominate
the global economy, and called for a "jihad" against American influence.
Denounced President Bush's foreign policy.
Claimed the U.S. is drawing up plans to prevent his re-election in 2006
– and said Venezuelan "terrorists" plotting to kill him were training in
Engineered a law allowing his government to suspend the licenses of
radio and TV stations for content "contrary to the security of the
Outlawed most forms of public protest.
Funded anti-democratic movements in nations such as Bolivia, and
subsidized Castro's regime.
Rewritten Venezuela's constitution to broaden his powers.
Purged critics in the military, and tried to take over the national
federation of trade unions.
Sent tens of thousands of young Venezuelans to Cuba for indoctrination.
Openly attacked the Catholic Church.
Even centrist Democrat Mortimer Zuckerman, publisher of U.S. News and
World Report, has called Chavez a "danger to democracy."
In a February column, Zuckerman cited a report that Chavez has granted
Cuban security forces extensive police powers in Venezuela.
He also noted that the "left-wing demagogue" – who tried to gain power
in an unsuccessful 1992 coup, was first elected president in 1998 and
survived a 2004 recall election – was suspected of rigging the recall
vote. He pointed to a report from two American professors who concluded
there was at least a 99 percent chance the election was a fraud.
Now comes Telesur and the likelihood Chavez will use it to spread his
left-wing "Bolivarian revolution."
His government has already contributed $2.5 million to the network and
plans to invest $56 million in state-run TV, according to the
Washington-based Council on Hemispheric Affairs.
Venezuela and Cuba have agreed to share programming.
Chavez uses state-funded TV "to promote his political agenda," reports
The Washington Times, and has his own Sunday show – "prompting questions
about Telesur's future independence."
Cortesía: Francisco Díaz.