Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has received a press award from Argentina's University of La Plata for promoting “popular communication.”
The University of La Plata said it awarded Chavez “Rodolfo Walsh Prize” on Tuesday "for his unquestionable and authentic commitment" to giving people without a voice access to the airwaves and newspapers, a Press TV correspondent reported.
The awarding ceremony was attended by a number of top foreign diplomats, including Iran's ambassador in Buenos Aires.
"I accept and dedicate this prize in the name of the people of your brother country, Venezuela, which has been fighting for years to shape dynamic peoples' media, free of the media dictatorship of the upper class and the United States," Chavez told the audience.
The award comes amid what opposition figures in Argentina have branded the worst attack on press freedom in the country. The choice for the Rodolfo Walsh Prize has also sparked criticism at home among those who criticize Chavez for restricting domestic media.
Florencia Saintout, dean of the journalism faculty at La Plata, said the faculty chose Chavez for the award for his commitment to giving the right to communication to people who have traditionally lacked a voice.
Chavez is a key regional ally of Argentinean President Cristina Frenandez. The two chief executives signed a number of commercial agreements during Chavez's latest visit to Buenos Aires. Argentina is providing cars, food and agricultural machinery in return for continued oil supplies from Venezuela.
In his first official visit to Argentina in 2011, the Venezuelan leader received strong support from political leaders and social organizations. He has also demanded the incorporation of Venezuela to the Common Market of the South and insisted on the creation of a regional bank that would reinforce ties among Latin American countries.