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Andrés Izarra, Venezuela’s Minister of Communication and Information resigned, saying that he wanted to assure that the new continent-wide television channel Telesur that was launched this week would not suffer from conflict of interest due to his also being president of Telesur.

Members of Telesur’s advisory committee, in particular the British-Pakistani writer and filmmaker Tariq Ali, had expressed concern that the new channel be as independent as possible from the governments that are sponsoring the channel so that it would be in a position to present criticisms of these. The Venezuelan government has a 51% share in Telesur, with Cuba, Argentina, and Uruguay making up the other 49%.

Andrés Izarra explained during his press conference in which he announced his resignation that he had made the decision to resign prior to the advisory committee’s recommendation and that he considers himself first and foremost a journalist and not a politician, which is why he believes that his keeping the post of Telesur president would not impede the channel’s ability to criticize the government.

Izarra also said that the main reason he held both posts as Minister and as Telesur president was to provide the necessary impulse for the channel’s launch, but now that the channel is underway the two posts could be separated.

Izarra held the post of minister of Communication and Information for about 11 months, during which time he promoted the Law of Social Responsibility in Radio and Television, expanded the activities of the ministry, initiated changes in President Chavez’s weekly television program Alo Presidente, and restructured numerous state media outlets, such as the state TV channel, the state radio station, and the state news agency. A new minister of Communication and Information has not been named yet.