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Aram Aharonian

A seminar called “Other media is possible” was led by Venezuelan news agency chief, Aram Aharonián, who said Latin Americans have been trained to look at themselves through the eyes of strangers and that today that must stop. "We should be looking at ourselves with our own eyes and looking for our own solutions instead of depending on Spain, France, or the United States," Aharonián said.

Aharonián recalled a conference of 400 communicators in Havana where Fidel Castro spoke and said he was surprised at the lack of creativity of those gathered that they did not think of creating a Latin American CNN. “That’s what it’s about”, Aharonián said, “it’s about joining forces and creating a Latin American TV station where we can look at Latin America through Latin American eyes.”

That goal will be realized before the end of this year announced Aharonián . “We will be launching a satellite television signal totally independent, plural and horizontal to be able to see Latin America through our own eyes”, Aharonián said to the applause of the audience.

“We have to stop thinking like dwarfs, we should stop duplicating our efforts, and above all we should leave our isolation and abandon our egoism”, Aharonián said.

Aharonián recalled that on April 13, 2002 during the coup against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, mainstream television and radio stations blocked out the coup, by televising only cartoons and transmitting only Salsa music on the radio. “Who broke the news those days were community radio stations like Radio La Parola (a neighbourhood radio station) along with new technology like cell phones and the Internet. The people of Caracas did not come out that day to sack the city, they came to demand their rights,” Aharonián said.

“We can create a factory of news that reflects our lives. It is not a problem of money, it is a matter of coordinating the many independent producers that already exist”, concluded Aharonián .

Paco Velasco of Radio La Luna, a progressive commercial radio station in Quito, Ecuador, expressed his doubts as to media remaining under the term “alternative”. Velasco compared well funded NGOs, who complain of being marginalized, with the case of an old indigenous woman in an Ecuadorian town who bought her own radio station. “To me, that is the way of creating alternative media”, said Velasco, adding that NGOs are often funded with tens of thousands of dollars each year which they spend on producing books and documents which few people read. “You have no idea of what we can do in one year with the money these organizations spend. We live by what we can do and by what we know how to do. We do not have a project by an NGO because we decided a long time ago not to be international beggars ever again”, Velasco said.