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Hugo Chavez wins press freedom award

When you think of Hugo Chavez and journalism, his repeated habit of shutting down TV stations that are critical of his government and supporting legislation to punish "press crimes," might be the first thing that comes to mind. But one Argentine University doesn’t see it that way: The University of La Plata said it was ...

ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images
ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images

When you think of Hugo Chavez and journalism, his repeated habit of shutting down TV stations that are critical of his government and supporting legislation to punish "press crimes," might be the first thing that comes to mind. But one Argentine University doesn't see it that way:

The University of La Plata said it was honouring him for his efforts to break "media monopolies" in Latin America and support "popular communication".

The award has angered critics who accuse Mr Chavez of stifling opposition media in Venezuela.

When you think of Hugo Chavez and journalism, his repeated habit of shutting down TV stations that are critical of his government and supporting legislation to punish "press crimes," might be the first thing that comes to mind. But one Argentine University doesn’t see it that way:

The University of La Plata said it was honouring him for his efforts to break "media monopolies" in Latin America and support "popular communication".

The award has angered critics who accuse Mr Chavez of stifling opposition media in Venezuela.

Earlier Mr Chavez signed a series of commercial accords with his Argentine counterpart, Cristina Fernandez.

The university said it was giving Mr Chavez the Rodolfo Walsh award for "his commitment to defending the liberty of the people, consolidating Latin American unity, and defending human rights, truth and democratic values".

Giving Chavez a prize named for Rodolfo Walsh, a journalist "disappeared" during Argentina’s military rule, is especially unfortunate given the jailing of critical journalists in Venezuela.

Maybe he can keep the award next to his Qaddafi Prize for Human Rights. 

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy  Twitter: @joshuakeating

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