The Latin American TV channel TeleSur (The New Television Station of the South) was launched in July of 2005. It became the first project of television broadcasting suggested by President Hugo Chavez. It took TeleSur nearly two years to have its own network of correspondents and develop a unique manner of informative journalism. From the very start, the Latin American audience was the channel’s key target group. Objective coverage of the region’s political, economic and cultural life has always been a priority for TeleSur. Very soon it became not just a catalyst for the integration process in the region but also a source of reliable and most up-to-date information about the situation in the neighborhood.
TeleSur is headquartered in Caracas. The company is sponsored by Argentina, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Uruguay and Venezuela, which views its spending on TeleSur as part of ‘international obligation’. President Chavez has repeatedly stressed that he would not tolerate any dictatorship imposed on the channel: “The channel does not depend on any government of political party, and independently decides on its information policy.” Alternative coverage of the current affairs is a key task for TeleSur as means to oppose to the U.S. propagandistic information warfare. TeleSur reporters demonstrated high-quality journalism during tensions in Honduras, Egypt and Libya. They were detained by the police, and had their passports, cameras and other equipment seized. This was done to oust TeleSur from ‘hotspots’ and help CNN, Fox, NBC, BBC, France 24 and other channels maintain their information monopoly.
The WikiLeaks web site says that from the very first days when TeleSur was launched, the U.S. State Department and the CIA had demonstrated a very aggressive approach to what they described as ‘Chavez`s private TV channel’. Dozens of messages were sent from US embassies across Latin America to Washington, expressing concerns about ‘efforts’ made by the channel to stir up public protests, criticize the U.S. and its allies in the region, and ‘praise populist leaders and Cuban government’. Using the terms of the Cold War era, North American diplomats gave recommendations to 'urgently stop this red propaganda on TV'. More often, they relied on Voice of America`s broadcasts, first of all, in the ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas) countries. The Congress even voiced concerns that a cooperation agreement between TeleSur and Al Jazeera provides a platform for the creation of a 'global television network for terrorists'. The CIA had no doubts that 'Chavez`s channel' would take measures to expose their operations in Latin America, thus affecting the security of their agents. The Pentagon concluded that TeleSur was established to inspire protests against the presence of US military bases on the continent. TV and radio programs, intercepted in the countries with 'populist regimes', were thoroughly analyzed by the U.S. Southern Command, their experts, of course, reporting more and more 'provocative' programs produced by TeleSur. For example, in such manner they referred to reports about Venezuela`s deal on purchasing arms from Russia, the demonstration flights of SU-30 jets, maneuvers of T-72 tanks or demonstration of missile launch complexes.
The Venezuelan authorities had repeatedly talked about the so-called 'Plan Balboa' the US and NATO had worked out to invade Venezuela and seize its oil. The Pentagon denied the mere existence of the plan, saying that Operation Balboa was nothing more but a military simulation conducted by the Spanish Armed Forces. Nevertheless, the plan does exist, though, perhaps, has a different code. The U.S. intelligence on Venezuela has become more sophisticated, with many Venezuelan police and intelligence officers founding themselves recruited by the US. From its positions in Puerto-Rico, Colombia and the Dominican Republic, and from air force bases on Aruba and Curaçao the U.S. has been watching military exercises and how Venezuela was building defences. The plan of intervention is being amended each year, with more and more new facilities added on the 'map'. Starting from 2005 TeleSur`s infrastructure is also on the 'target' list. Remember the US-led NATO offensives against Yugoslavia, Iraq and Libya. TV centers in Belgrade, Baghdad and Tripoli were among the first targets to be attacked, so that the invader had advantage as far as information warfare was concerned.
Different sources name different dates of the US invasion of Venezuela. Some experts say it may hardly happen this year, right in the heat of the presidential campaign in the US. Meanwhile, Venezuela is also preparing for the presidential election on October 7th. Unlike Chavez, the opposition candidates did not say they would accept any result and would not stage protests in case they do no like the outcome. Chavez supporters can be heard saying that the opposition plans to seize power by force and plans to stage a mass rally near the presidential palace, like in 2002.
Now that the presidential race is in full swing, speculations about Chavez`s cancer have been fueled. The latest reports by the western intelligence sources say that Chavez has metastatic tumors and he is left just about 6 or 9 months to live. First publications about this imminent threat to Chavez`s health appeared in the Spanish-based ABC newspaper, and were later distributed by other media in the US and by some papers in Latin America. “He is deathly ill, and is still able to work only thanks to morphine injections”, reports said, predicting a tough struggle for the presidential post between leftist parties and military officials since officially Chavez does not have a successor.
Apparently, Washington believes that the fight for the presidential post will be so intense in Venezuela, that military intervention would be inevitable. Preparations have already begun, with 13 US bases organized along the perimeter of Venezuela. Will the country and its allies in ALBA manage to repel the US attack? Actually, they are treating a possible threat very seriously, intensifying military training in the armies and inspiring patriotic mood among the staff. Last year ALBA opened in Bolivia its School of Defense and Sovereignty. The Alliance`s potential provided by the armies of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, would be incomplete without assistance from UNASUR (Union of South American nations), which comprises 12 states of the region, and from CELAC (the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States). Political experts think that in case of the US intervention against any ALBA nation, solidarity of UNASUR and CELAC might become a crucial moment in the battle.
Venezuela continues to develop bilateral ties with other countries on the continent. On January 27, defence ministers of Venezuela and Peru signed a memorandum on strategic alliance to ensure peace and security in the region. The ministers also discussed joint projects in the field of defense industry. In the near future Peru may join ALBA. Venezuela also has close military ties with Brazil. Unlike in the past, Caracas views Brazil as a reliable ally deterring the US aggression. TeleSur launched its broadcasts in Brazil in 2008, and now plans to intensify its presence in the country.
TeleSur is considering new bureaus in Beijing, Moscow and Cairo. Winning a worthy place in global mass media is a strategically important task for this truly independent TV channel. TeleSur is available online in any part of the globe. Information blockade imposed on Latin America by the US has been successfully broken. And this is the main reason why TeleSur is being threatened.