In the logic of “we decide and order” its newly elected president Argentinian closed a week ago Telam – the country’s state news agency – with its future still uncertain.

THE Javier Millay – who has been described as a “volatile far-right liberal” – had said he wanted to “shut down” Telam, which he complained had been used in recent decades as a “propaganda agency» at the service of Argentina’s leftist presidents Nestor and Cristina Kirchner.

Argentina’s government announced on March 4 that it was suspending the state agency’s operations while blocking workers’ access to its buildings pending a permanent closure plan.

The suspension of operation is extended for one more week

“The exemption from paid work is extended for another seven days,” Diego Zacher, the agency’s auditor recently appointed by the Millay government, clarified in an email to Telam workers.

Yesterday, Monday, Telam workers were offered a voluntary resignation, which their assembly rejected, said Tomas Eliashev, the agency’s union representative.

The workers have set up a website, “somostelam” (we are Telam), through which they continue to transmit general news telegrams, as well as updates on their fight against the closure of the agency.

The history of the agency

Telam was founded in 1945 by former Argentine president Juan Domingo Peron and now has more than 700 employees. This is the first state media against which the ultra-liberal Miley is attacking.

In February the government launched a financial audit of the main state media with the aim of preparing a “reform, restructuring and action” plan. However Argentina’s presidency had indicated that any privatizations “have not yet been decided”.

The Millay government has appointed by decree two auditors, including lawyer Diego Tzacher, former head of the media group Grupo America, to take over the management of five state-owned media outlets, including Telam and Argentina’s state-run Radio and Television.

Closure, restructuring, partial or full privatization: the future of Telam remains uncertain for now. Many opposition MPs question whether the government can simply shut down the state agency without parliamentary approval, which is uncertain.

A 2018 restructuring of the agency under liberal president Maurizio Macri had led to 357 redundancies, around 40% of workers, many of which were later overturned by the courts.