BUENOS AIRES (AP) — Argentina’s pro-business government is pulling the plug on its involvement in the Spanish-language TV network that was started by the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez over what it said was the broadcaster’s blacklisting of alternative viewpoints.
Telesur was launched in 2005 with funding from six regional governments aligned with Venezuela, including Cuba and Bolivia. On Sunday, the administration of Mauricio Macri announced that Argentina would unload its nearly 20 percent stake in the venture, which has presented itself as a leftist alternative to mainstream media coverage of Latin America.
The country is leaving because it was shut out of financial and editorial decisions, Argentine Minister of Communication Hermann Lombardi said.
“Argentina was a partner prohibited from sharing our view,” he told radio Vorterix. “It’s an interesting South American television project, but there was no pluralism at Telesur.”
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Relations between Argentina and Venezuela flourished during the administration of leftist Cristina Fernandez, but have grown chilly since conservative Macri took office in December.
Telesur said in a written article that Macri had taken steps to undermine the diversity of media required by law that also includes smaller, alternative outlets.
The network has sought to reshape views about Latin America with dispatches from correspondents around the region.
Audiences in Latin America have embraced the network as a politicized alternative to CNN en Espanol and as one of the few outlets offering in-depth coverage of the region’s lesser-told stories and places.
In 2014, Telesur unveiled an English-language website, and announced it would hire about 100 native English-speaking journalists and producers for the launch.
Venezuela, the network’s prime champion, is in the midst of a grave economic crisis, and has been struggling to pay its debts and find the foreign currency to import food, medicine and other basics.