Bolivia's Morales to launch state-run daily paper

LA PAZ, Jan 4 (Reuters) - Leftist Bolivian President Evo Morales said on Sunday he would launch a state-run daily newspaper later this month, saying the paper would act as a counterbalance to the “anti-government” local media.

Morales has nationalized energy, mining and telecommunications firms since taking office in 2006. He is also starting an airline and plans to launch state paper, cement and sugar companies in an effort to tighten his government’s control over the economy.

“The state’s going to have its own newspaper and I’ve told the media team that we should launch it on Jan. 22,” Morales was quoted as saying by the official news agency ABI.

During a radio interview, Morales accused some Bolivian media of attacking his administration and said the nascent newspaper will be charged with “gathering the truth,” ABI reported.

Jan. 22 will mark Morales’ third anniversary at the helm of South America’s poorest country.

Morales, a close ally of Venezuela’s fiery leftist president, Hugo Chavez, frequently criticizes local media. Last month, he threatened to stop giving news conferences for local journalists.

He says almost all of Bolivia’s newspapers and broadcast networks strive to taint his image and has scorned reporters for being the puppets of media owners he says are aligned with the rightist opposition.

The National Association of Journalists said late last year that some Morales’ comments against the media amounted to “verbal abuse.”

Morales is also planning to launch a television station representing trade, farming and mining unions and the indigenous groups that form his power base, ABI said.

It said Bolivia’s allies Venezuela and Iran would help set up the station.

The impoverished Bolivian state already runs a news agency, a television station, a weekly paper and a network of radio stations. (Reporting by Eduardo Garcia; Editing by Eric Walsh)