Non-Aligned Countries Endorse Venezuelan Proposal for Alternative World Media

At the 7th Conference of Information Ministers of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries held in Venezuela’s Margarita Island last week, more than 80 country delegations endorsed Venezuela’s proposal to create an alternative worldwide media network.
Last week, Non-aligned countries agreed to construct a world system of news, radio, and information-sharing to connect and represent countries in the Global South.

Mérida, July 5, 2008 (– At the 7th Conference of Information Ministers of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries held in Venezuela’s Margarita Island last week, more than 80 country delegations endorsed Venezuela’s proposal to create an alternative worldwide media network.

The Margarita Declaration signed Friday lays out a working agenda for constructing a “new international communicational order” that is meant to “balance information and democratize the presence of the countries of the South in worldwide communication,” said the Venezuelan Minister of Communication and Information, Andrés Izarra, in his closing speech Friday.

“We now have a new tool,” explained Izarra. “The communicational task of our peoples today is to recuperate the words, the images of our existence which have been sequestered and used against us by the masters of the world.”

One proposal on the agenda is to start a Non-Aligned News Network (NNN) to cover news from the 118 mostly Global South countries in the movement. According to Izarra, this new network could be based on the model of Caracas-based Telesur.

Telesur is a television channel created in 2006 with the financial backing of the governments of Argentina, Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Venezuela. It aims to rival other international news agencies while promoting consciousness of Latin American identity and history and give voice to the social changes going on in the region.
Other proposals included a radio of the South and strengthened southern information networks, which would “serve as an information bank, providing common access to these countries in order to pluralize the flow of information,” Izarra explained.

Many delegates credited a speech by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez on Thursday for propelling these ideas into the action plan of the Margarita Declaration.

“We are in a search for the democracy of information since there is a media tyranny in the world,” Chávez asserted Thursday. “Hopefully we can structure a grand social television of the world that has its offices, studios, cameras, and satellites dispersed around the Caribbean, Asia, and Africa,” he described.

“We have to do it now, in order to communicate among our peoples in our languages, it is vital so that our governments get to know each other,” Chávez encouraged.

Last year, the Chávez administration did not renew the broadcasting license of one of Venezuela’s largest corporate networks, RCTV, and instead granted the concession to Venezuelan Social Television (TVES), which currently broadcasts 229 programs by independent producers emphasizing educational and cultural content.

Chávez’s proposal was backed on Thursday by the Foreign Relations Minister of Cuba, Felipe Pérez Roque, who said the current media climate is such that the South is “silenced” and “bombarded continually” with “history from the perspective of the powerful.”

Considering this, “the current situation cannot be resolved with palliative measures, we must go to its base,” said the minister, explaining that “this unjust international order to which we are to be submitted is a product of the abyss that exists between the North and the South in terms of access, production, and flow of information.”

Venezuela’s first-ever Minister of Women’s Issues, María León, was also welcomed to the conference to share Venezuela’s current women’s rights policies with countries such as Namibia, Belarus, Dominica, Gambia, and Cambodia, which had expressed interest in learning more.

“Many have shown interest in finding out about what is occurring with women in Venezuela. There are very important advances that we can share. The importance that the media now gives to women, and we can see that of the 5 public powers, four are led by women,” León told the press.

According to the Venezuelan Ambassador to the United Nations, Jorge Valero, the movement is “in a period of revitalization of this organization since the developed countries and the spokespeople of neo-liberalism had proclaimed the death of the non-aligned countries.”

President Chávez presented another South-focused proposal at the conference Thursday when he called on OPEC countries to help the poorest 50 countries on Earth pay for oil as prices continue to soar above $144 per barrel.

“OPEC, or some of its members, should take the responsibility to supply these countries through special mechanisms, subsidies, donations, agreements. It is not going to make us any richer or poorer,” said Chávez.

Venezuela’s most recent tax on oil profits to generate funds for social programs was passed by the National Assembly last April. Also, last month Chávez offered to use profits from oil sold for more than $100 per barrel to combat food shortages worldwide if other countries also agreed to participate.

Chávez predicted that oil prices would continue to rise, but not because OPEP countries want them to. “It is not our fault,” Chávez said. “Withdraw the troops from Iraq and you will see how immediately the price of oil will fall several dollars; stop the threats against Iran and Venezuela and you will see the price descend.”

The “exaggerated consumption” of oil by rich nations is another factor in the high prices, Chávez said, pointing out that the 50 poorest countries consume a total of 700,000 barrels of oil per day, while the United States consumes 21 million barrels per day.