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On January 28, 2020, the outlet opened another headquarters in Havana which aims at producing contents in both English and Spanish.
Ever since its creation, teleSUR has suffered the impact of the blockade, censorship, persecution of their journalists, cutting off of their signal, and more. Nevertheless, as the multimedia networks mark its 15 years of existence on July 24 and a new wave of neoliberal governments keeps the region in turmoil, teleSUR determination to survive only grows stronger.
It started as a small signal back in 2005 when Latin American unity advocates Hugo Chàvez and Fidel Castro promoted a series of mechanisms to integrate the region. The multimedia's purpose was to present the audience an alternative narrative of their lives, and it kicked off its mission by revealing the victims of the armed conflict in Colombia.
Broadcasting the coup against former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya in 2009 exclusively, the project would start setting a series of reporting milestones that brought to the spotlight untold stories of peoples, cultures, and events which otherwise would have never make it to the mainstream media.
By 2010 teleSUR's signal had reached several countries in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. The following year, the outlet gave the world a completely different outlook on the NATO-U.S.-led invasion of Libya. While the most powerful networks in the globe reported that civilians, where targeted by the leader Muammar Gaddafi, teleSUR's team, showed that the government never attacked its people. This information was verified and confirmed later by several human rights groups, although the United Nations never sent a mission to find out what had happened. Followers of teleSUR across the world voted Lybia's coverage as the most important news of 2011.
Consequently, teleSUR not only became the go-to media when looking for unreported stories across the continent, but a symbol of the struggles of its peoples as the mechanisms of neoliberal forces turned more sophisticated and progressive governments have been taken down by parliamentary coups or biased judicial courts.
teleSUR's teams chronicled the parliamentary coup in Paraguay against president Fernando Lugo on June 22, 2012, Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff's impeachment, the coup against Bolivia's first Indigenous president ever Evo Morales as well the uprisings during 2019 in Ecuador and Chile among others events.
Since the outlet challenges neoliberal storytelling over and over, right-wing political figures have made ongoing attempts to dismiss it as a propaganda tool for president Nicolàs Maduro's government, ironically trying to silence it, while accusing it of censorship.
During 2015, a year after the multimedia network expanded by opening an English service in Ecuador, evidence emerged that teleSUR was targeted as part of a plan to unseat President Maduro carried out by the opposition with the support of the United States. According to the information released by Venezuelan authorities, the multimedia networks was going to suffer an aerial attack.
Nevertheless, teleSUR continued moving forward and, on January 28, 2020, opened more headquarters in Havana, which aim to produce content in both English and Spanish. Earlier, Venezuelan opposition had tried to strike again when self-proclaimed president Juan Guaidó signed a "decree" in January this year to take over the signal in Venezuela and the other countries where it operates.
Even United States officials have acknowledged the worldwide impact of the media's reporting during all this time. When asked about teleSUR, U.S. Special Representative to Venezuela Elliott Abrams said in February that "we (the government) are looking very carefully at it".
On May 19, 2020, the platform Directv, through which teleSUR was distributed in several countries in the region, announced without prior notice that it had canceled its operations in Venezuela. Its owner, U.S. company AT&T, said that the decision was made in the United States without consultation of its Venezuelan staff, and it was taken because the sanctions that Trump's administration imposed on the nation make it impossible for the company to comply with the legal requirements of both countries.
For teleSUR, it meant that its signal was immediately cut off the Directv programming grid in Ecuador, Chile, and Venezuela. However, although the unilateral decision had a significant impact on the regional distribution of the station, the Latin American outlet is expanding itself via streaming services in journalism platforms and recently opened a Telegram channel, alongside its online production for its website and social media.
On July 22, to celebrate its 15 years, the Network of Intellectuals, Artists, and Social Movements "In Defense of Humanity" granted teleSUR the Homeland is Humanity award. The letter highlights that "Telesur acts as a platform for the truth to promote and conquer a new democratizing order of information and communication". Moreover, "it is an information bulwark whose complexity of objectives and ways of reflecting reality advance in very rough and often dangerous grounds." From all of us at teleSUR, we hope to continue making the "powers that be" uncomfortable.