Argentine university awards journalism prize to Hugo Chávez

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  • March 30, 2011

By Ingrid Bachmann

Amid controversy for the decision to award him a prize, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez received the Rodolfo Walsh Prize in the category “Latin American President for Popular Communication," which the Universidad de La Plata awards every year, La Razón reports. See stories in English by ReutersCNN, the Associated Press, and other sources.

According to the organizers, the prize recognizes “the authentic and unquestionable commitment to freedom of the people” of the Venezuelan president, El Mundo reports. The prize takes the name of a writer, journalist and militant politician who was kidnapped and disappeared in 1977, during Argentina’s military dictatorship, the EFE news agency explains.

However, the recognition of Chávez was described by La Gaceta as “unpopular, or at least, controversial,” given Chávez’s media policy that has fought several private news organizations.

According to LaNoticia1.com, Venezuelan media and journalists suggested that during Chávez’s administration freedom of expression has suffered several blows and recalled that the president has closed 34 radio stations and two TV stations over administrative arguments.

Chávez dismissed such allegations. “We have not closed a single medium in Venezuela. There is full freedom of criticism and thought,” he said upon arriving in Buenos Aires, El Universal reports. The dean of the Journalism School at the Universidad de La Plata defending the award to Chávez. “We believe that there is freedom of expression in Venezuela,” said Florencia Saintout, quoted by Clarín.

According to InfoBAE, after receiving the prize, Chávez made a call to fight against "media dictatorships” and to defeat them.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.