TeleSUR promotional campaign causes controversy in Colombia

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Friday, July 15, 2005

Four Telesur promotions have caused controversy in sectors of the Colombian government. The network, financed by the governments of Argentina, Cuba, Uruguay and Venezuela, started its test broadcastings on May 24 from Caracas. It is expected that the channel will begin its definitive programming on July 24.

The promos are:

  • A Venezuelan woman is singing in a shower. The refrain says " eta, eta, eta ". Although the word "eta" might a variant for the word "esta" ("this"), for some people it is a clear allusion to the separatist Basque group ETA. The director of teleSUR, Aram Aharonian, said "it's a Caetano Veloso theme, if there was a little more of musical culture we wouldn't have this misunderstandings". Video: Cable Modem
  • A promo shows a protest in Plaza de Bolívar, in Bogotá, against Plan Colombia. Video: Cable Modem

Telesur says that its purpose is counterbalanceing to the giants of the news agency in America, like CNN or Univisión. Colombian organisms of intelligence declared to the newspaper El Tiempo that in the channel "there are subjects related to the national and international terrorism" and the channel "shows a negative image of Colombia".

TeleSur already signed an agreement with two regional Colombian channels: the Channel Capital, from Bogota, and the Telepacífico, who transmits to west of Colombia from Cali. According to the agreement the Colombian channels will transmit part of the Telesur programming.

The manager of the Channel Capital, Héctor Pinilla, said that the channel 's directive board will decide the contents of the channel TelesUR which will be transmitted by the regional station. As to the controversy, Pinilla said: " the government sometimes suffers of too much excitement of pursuit. Let it act freely, not on behalf of the extremist sectors, but yes on behalf of the press freedom ".