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Argentina: media mogul supports Kirchner's government

By Felipe Barreda

15.11.05 | The fact that monopolistic media groups do influence and control public opinion in several major Latin American countries is widely known. Argentina is a country which -for years- has been subject to the undue influence of one of them, now closely tied to the leftist Kirchner’s administration.

This serious problem has been exposed again and again, but little has been done to correct this situation, which is extremely dangerous to democracy. Among others by Gerardo Reyes, a Colombian journalist in an excellent article entitled “”Self-censorship in Latin America” (11 Media Law and Policy 1, fall 2002), that, inter alia, describes the large web of interests that the monopolistic “Grupo Clarín”, the leading Spanish-speaking media group, has in Argentina.

Few people know, however, that this influential media group caused former President Duhalde to produce the maxi-devaluation most low-income Argentines dramatically suffered in early 2002.

“Grupo Clarín” was then in deep financial trouble -in fact close to bankruptcy- and by generating the devaluation -and obtaining additional regulatory “help” against its creditors- the media monopolistic group was able to prevent the foreclosure of its assets.

“ Grupo Clarin” exchanged favours with former President Eduardo Duhalde supporting him all along its presidency by constantly -and openly- endorsing all of his governmental acts and decisions. This included specifically supporting all of Duhalde’s measures that killed the “rule of law” in Argentina.

Even the pathological foreign debt “renegotiation” by Argentina was the object of a permanent and strong defence by “Grupo Clarín”. When Duhalde’s term ended, “Grupo Clarin” actively promoted Néstor Kirchner to the presidency. Again, in exchange for good will and support. Early this year, the media group reached an agreement with its creditors, while -on the side- it was expanding even more its empire.

Interestingly enough, “Grupo Clarin” operates both in the open through its newspaper: “Clarín”; several television stations; and cable operations and in a “covert” manner by using in a coordinated manner its leftist newspaper “Página 12” (that receives most of the public sector adds and publicity) which is owned by Héctor Horacio Magnetto (the real leading shareholder of “Grupo Clarín”) through a Swiss subsidiary.

“Página 12” is so supportive of Néstor Kirchner’s government and policies that most people in Argentina refer to it as “The Official Gazette”. Its leading editor is Horacio Verbitsky, is the former intelligence commander of the leftist guerrilla that operated in Argentina in the 70’s.

Recently, the Kirchner’s appointed Argentina’s new Supreme Court has decided that terrorism is not a crime against humanity. All self-amnestied former leftist guerrilla members that today fill many Argentine governmental positions in Kirchner’s administration have thus obtained the necessary coverage that allows the statute of limitations on their crimes to run.

“Grupo Clarin” manipulates all news so that Kirchner’s image is always defended and promoted. Never questioned. Even Hugo Chávez (Kirchner’s most important foreign ally) is constantly endorsed by “Grupo Clarin”.

In a nutshell, “Grupo Clarín” (in bed with Kirchner’s administration) is pushing all its monopolistic media buttons (which are many) and telling Argentina´s people what to think and what to believe. This is certainly not a democratic attitude.

But people should be aware of what is going on, both inside and outside Argentina.

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