The government of Ecuador has announced that it will pull funding from the regional left-wing propaganda network Telesur.
Despite Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno’s election as a member of the leftist PAIS Alliance party, the country’s Communications Secretary Andres Michelena indicated that the channel had become too costly and they now preferred to focus on their own state media.
“We have met with the people of Telesur because we want to make an open-door approach, where everyone will report the good things and criticize the bad things,” Michelena said.
“The new policy of the Secretariat of Communication will be to pull the channel off the air, given its very expensive cost of 2 million dollars.” he continued. “That is what the Ecuador TV public channel is for.”
Telesur was founded by former Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez alongside regional radical left-wing governments in Ecuador, Argentina, Cuba, Nicaragua, Uruguay, and Bolivia, with the aim of promoting Latin American integration based on “anti-imperialism” and propping up the supposed successes of socialist policies throughout the region.
Ecuador’s former president, Rafael Correa, was a key ally of Chávez and a supporter of his failed “Bolivarian Revolution,” whereas his successor Moreno has criticized the Maduro regime’s use of violence against civilians and has replaced Quito’s ambassadors in Caracas and Havana for being too close to the country’s governments.
In 2014, Telesur opened an English-language site to penetrate the North American market and change perceptions about left-wing leaders in the region, who have so frequently clashed with the United States.
However, the channel has come under great scrutiny in recent years, especially given its favorable coverage of the Castro dictatorship in Cuba and the Maduro regime in Venezuela, both of which are responsible for egregious human rights violations.
In 2016, Argentina’s center-right leader Mauricio Macri also announced he would cut funding to the network after it refused to broadcast his government’s positions. The channel had previously aired propaganda in favor of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who left office in 2015 and now faces a corruption trial.
“Argentina was a partner prohibited from sharing our view,” Minister of Communication Hermann Lombardi said at the time. “It’s an interesting South American television project, but there was no pluralism at Telesur.”
Local media analyst Martina Rapido told La Hora that the channel was “past its peak because leaders like Correa and Chávez used it for their own political propaganda.”
“The fact the government has withdrawn funds does not seem like a bad decision, given that main of the people running the channel have attacked freedom of expression with their propaganda strategy,” he continued.