Venezuela Announces News Agency at Non-Aligned Summit

The South American Television Network Telesur announced the creation of a news agency to rival Reuters and the Associated Press at the 14th Non-Aligned Summit this Thursday

By JoJo Farrell
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Caracas, Venezuela, September 16, 2006 - The South American Television Network Telesur announced the creation of a news agency to rival Reuters and the Associated Press, this Thursday.   Andres Izarra, President of the Venezuela-based Telesur, made the declaration at the 14th Non-Aligned Summit this week.  Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez arrived in Havana on Thursday for the highly anticipated meeting being held in Cuba for the second time in its 45 year history.

Telesur’s announcement comes at a time of increased regional integration, championed by Chavez and his call for independence from the United States.  During the announcement of the news agency, Izarra stated that Latin America’s news is monopolized by Reuters and the AP, and this new initiative will help to diversify the international media.  

“This represents a new step that Telesur is taking towards the democratization of information and towards the inclusion of more voices in the spectrum of international initiatives,” said Izarra. 

Izarra stated that the news agency will involve collaboration with international partners, though he did not expand on who those may be.  Izarra declared that a more in-depth announcement would soon follow. 

President Chavez arrived to the summit on Thursday.  Many see this as Chavez’s last opportunity to lobby UN members before the upcoming meeting in New York this month, in which Venezuela will contend for a seat on the UN Security Council.  Venezuela is competing with the U.S. backed Guatemala for the seat. Venezuela supporters accuse Guatemala of being one of the worst abusers of Human Rights in the region.

Challenge to the United States

On the agenda at the Summit, which comes to a close today, was the passage of a declaration condemning unilateral actions and “hegemonic international domination”. The document stops short of naming the United States though it is clearly directed at the North American country.  Chavez addressed the summit and led with harsh criticism of the negative impact of U.S. interference in international affairs.  He also spoke of the opportunities that lay ahead.

"This is the most important forum of the early 21st century because it takes place when the U.S. empire is experiencing decline," Chavez said.

Venezuela’s close relationship with Cuba, who will lead the Non Aligned Movement (NAM) for the next 3 years, places it in a strategic position. 

Countries at the summit also discussed international discrimination towards Venezuela, Cuba and Iran; balanced relations between the North and South; and greater collaboration between developing nations.

Fidel Castro

Although Fidel Castro has been meeting with leaders visiting Cuba for the NAM summit, it was announced earlier in the week that he would not lead the Cuban Delegation.  Castro has temporarily handed power over to his brother Raul Castro while he is recovering from surgery.  Nevertheless, yesterday the recovering Castro was elected president of the NAM body. 

Members of NAM are expecting that this years meeting in Havana will bring new life to the movement by calling for a more pro-active approach to south-south cooperation, such as Cuba´s example of offering doctors to needy regions of the world.

The NAM grew to118 nations this week, with the addition of Haiti and St. Kitts-Nevis.  The NAM is the second largest international organization in the world after the United Nations.

The first Non-aligned Summit was held in 1961 and was founded by nations seeking independence from Cold War giants - The Soviet Union and The United States.  The inclusion of Cuba as a founding member, and the addition of Vietnam among other nations who received support from the Cold War Powers, has always been a source of controversy as to the true independence of the movement.  The NAM continues to redefine itself since the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

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