Venezuela’s Telesur goes live in Cuba

Foregin real-time TV signal is first approved since revolution

MEXICO CITY — For the first time since the revolution began in 1953, Cuba is transmitting a foreign TV signal in real time with the entry of Venezuela’s Telesur, which began broadcasting 13 1/2 hours a day this week.

Venezuela’s socialist leader Hugo Chavez has cultivated deep ties to Cuba in recent years, and in 2007, Caracas-based Telesur began transmitting tape-delayed news and programming for three hours per day.

Founded in 2005 as a pan-Latin American network, Telesur reaches more than 370 million viewers, making heavy inroads via cablers.

Telesur cited public demand in Cuba for the expanded programing.

Telesur’s Cuba rep Waldo Ramirez went on to say that the web “exposes the truth of our peoples, the vision of the south.”

Cuba’s communist regime has tightly controlled the media for 50 years, resisting U.S. efforts to penetrate the airwaves.

Locals remain up to date on the latest in TV and film, however, thanks to clandestine satellite dishes and de facto government approval of piracy.

Locals pick up telenovelas, sports and comedy programs on DVD or via portable hard drives for as little as $1 per series at open-air markets.