Milei Closes State News Agency Télam for 'Spreading Propaganda'

Javier Milei
Riccardo De Luca / Avalon/Newscom
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President Javier Milei has set his sights on Argentina's largest state-owned news agency, vowing to shutter it for being "a covert propaganda ministry." The move unfolded as police fenced off the agency's offices in Buenos Aires and prevented workers from entering since midnight on Monday.

During a speech at the opening of the Argentinian Congress' 142 session last Friday, Milei announced the closure of Telenoticiosa Americana (Télam), alleging that the agency has served as "a Kirchnerist propaganda agency for the last decades," referring to former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. "It is immoral that in a poor country like ours," Milei said, "the government spends the people's money to buy the will of journalists."

Established in 1945, Télam rose to become Argentina's most prestigious news agency, disseminating national news and photographs to smaller news outlets across the country. According to its website, the agency "is the only one in the country with a network of correspondents in all of the country's main cities and provinces."

Shortly after Milei's announcement, Télam's website went offline. Presidential spokesperson Manuel Adorni said at a press conference that the agency's staff was exempt "from providing services for seven days with pay, while progress is made" to close the agency.  

Télam workers, human rights activists, and the opposition rejected the closure announcement, claiming that the move was an attack on the free press. Many workers and union members plan to protest against Milei's decision by holding a "symbolic hug" of the building on Monday. 

In response to the events, Buenos Aires Press Union (SiPreBA) issued a statement posted on X (formerly Twitter) condemning the government for "carrying out one of the worst attacks on freedom of expression in the last 40 years of democracy. Tonight, city police fenced off the two buildings of the National News and Publicity Agency Télam, to prevent the massive embrace and impede access to the building." 

The Argentine Journalism Forum (Fopea) claimed the president's decisions "only exacerbate hostility and intolerance against journalism," adding that it was a "step backward" for democracy and freedom of expression in the country. 

Since assuming office, Milei has pledged to end Argentina's economic crisis by deregulating the economy and slashing government spending. His efforts to privatize or eliminate inefficient and corrupt state institutions, including Télam, were outlined in an omnibus bill presented to Congress last year. However, the bill was blocked by Congress last month, stalling many of his proposals indefinitely. 

But the president has been undeterred by setbacks. Since taking office in December, Milei has cut the number of government ministries from 18 to eight and fired over 50 percent of all government workers. On March 1, Milei told Argentina's lawmakers that he was going to keep pushing his free market reforms "with or without the support of political leaders, with all the legal resources of the executive." And last month he announced the closure of the National Institute against Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Racism (INADI)—an institution that he equated to "thought police." 

"The decision was made to move forward with the dismantling of institutes that serve absolutely no purpose, such as INADI," Adorni said.

Télam might be Milei's latest target, but it certainly won't be his last. 

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