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Haiti Since the Coup

Thousands killed or in hiding as coup government consolidates power with the help of paramilitaries and U.S. and French troops

Since the February 29th coup d'etat against Haiti's constitutional president, the forces that brought the coup have killed more than one thousand political adversaries and poor Haitians.  Paramilitary groups, many of which took control of entire cities in the run-up to the coup, are the source of most of this violence.  The U.S. armed forces, which physically removed president Jean-Bertrand Aristide from the country and have since, with French troops, defended the coup government, did little to protect civilians.  Haitian police arrested many government officials close to Aristide and also worked with paramilitaries in raids and battles in pro-Aristide slums.  Meanwhile, the government sought legitimacy and loans from other nations, Haiti's economy worsened, and most paramilitaries expected the Haitian army to be reactivated and employ them.

Marijuana March in Mexico City (Photos)

Hundreds of people marched through downtown Mexico City yesterday for marijuana legalization. There were similar marches all over the world this weekend, an annual global action often called the “Million Marijuana March.”

Zinacantán

   All is not politically harmonious among the various Tzotzil communities in the mountains around Zinacantán, Chiapas.  A recent conflict is reported by Alex Contreras Baspineiro
at http://narconews.com/Issue33/article961.html, the first of a series of four good articles.  Here's a perspective the articles leave mostly unexplored.

   Water is the flashpoint.  A minority of the communities around Zinacantán identify with the Zapatistas.  

Urgent from Cristin McCauley: Colombia 3

From Cristin McCauley, wife of one of "The Colombia Three," the Irishmen charged on cooked evidence of training Colombian rebels in explosives use, and recently aquitted.

(See her October 2002 Letter to Narco News for background information.)

Although The Colombia Three have been acquitted (Narco News reported there was no hard evidence against them 18 months ago), and even though they have been deported (on the lesser charge of possessing forged passports), they still can't get out of jail!

That's Colombian "justice" for ya.

Read more...

Interest rates, commodity prices pressure LA economies

The Banco de Mexico surprised the global bond market maggotry this week and raised short-term interest rates to head off inflation, a signal that "overheating" due to dollar weakness is becoming a problem.  With a number of regional economies already struggling, news that the tide is going out in terms of world commodity prices and growth may add further to existing political pressures.  Note also that the Bank of China just raised rates for same reason: internal bubble fueled by cheap dollars.  Ironically, in both of these "overheating" economies, there are more people in poverty and lacking opportunities than ever before.  Finally, everybody -- and I mean everybody -- assumes that investment grade status for Mexico means no sudden adjustments in the $/NP rate, but NP11 something per dollar is a bit rich, especially as the greenback rebounds.  See market comment below with my comments in [].

Bolivia President Confirms Coup Attempt

The latest Narco News report, by Luis Gómez, Coup d'Etat Plot, Exposed, Shakes Bolivia, has generated no small amount of controvery yesterday and today, including a whisper campaign from the usual suspects accusing our publication of engaging in "conspiracy theories" and things worse.

It reminds me of the reaction, 48 days prior to the 2002 coup attempt in Venezuela, after Narco News, alone and prior to all others, published Kim Alphandary's report Venezuela Faces U.S. Coup Plot. I got a lot of hate mail back then, too. Most of it, as today, anonymous.

Well, sorry to inform y'all, but Bolivia's president is now on record confirming our report...

Argentina: Democracy in Transition

I wrote this for my Argentine History class.  I would like for everyone who reads this to critique it.  Thanks.  Note it is fairly long.

Narco News Turns 4 and Gives You the Gift

Sunday, April 18, marks the fourth birthday of The Narco News Bulletin, reporting on the drug war and democracy from Latin America.

In our usual turning-América-upside-down style, if it's our birthday, we give you the present.

Starting today, all co-publishers get their own Reporters' Notebooks.

If you are a co-publisher, and you're logged in, you will find some new menu items under your name on the right-hand side of the screen:

Click "New Notebook Entry" and you can start your "blog" today...

Richard Holbrooke/Samuel Berger DataDump

Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times begins to flush the members of presumptive U.S. Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry's Cromagnon foreign policy team out from their caves. Here's a version of his story in the Minnesota Star Tribune (which, unlike the LAT, doesn't demand your personal data to read it... ¡putos! suddenly they do want you to register... okay, here's the Baltimore Sun version, while it lasts...):

John Kerry is assembling a network of foreign policy advisers more hawkish than most Democrats but more skeptical of military solutions in the struggle against terrorism than the team surrounding President Bush.

The experts being consulted span a broad ideological range of Democratic opinion -- to the point where some party thinkers worry that Kerry is not defining a sufficiently distinctive vision of how America should pursue its goals in the world.

Note: Brownstein doesn't quote a single one of those "party thinkers" worrying about this problem, not even anonymously. I'm not a member of any party, but through my weblog BigLeftOutside I have worried aloud more vocally than most...

Links, Links, Links: Amazon Burning

Indigenous communities oppose a big, fat, US-funded military base in the heart of Colombian rainforest on grounds that it has been imposed without consulting the autonomous governments and it will harm the fragile jungle…

"(This is) a complex debate if one takes into account that the future of the Amazon is in play, and the role that the indigenous have in the conservation of native forests, a total of 24 million hectares in their territory…

"'They have to understand that a hectare of coca causes more ecological damage than a military base,' says one of the officials in charge of the batallion…"

That official's statement, of course, contains more bullshit than a rodeo, read on to find out why...

Plus more news from Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, Haiti, Venezuela, and Washington DC (Can you say "Human Rights Botch"?)...

Hispanic civil-rights group claims insurance `crime bureau' targets minorities

The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) is an official sounding name for a fraud-busting detective agency funded by the insurance industry.

In fact, NICB investigators refer to themselves as "special agents," the same title used by criminal investigators with federal agencies like the FBI and the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (formerly the investigative arm of U.S. Customs).

The NICB even has agreements in place -- called Memoranda of Understanding, or MOUs -- with law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI, that allow the private insurer-backed group to conduct joint criminal investigations with these tax-funded agencies. NICB special agents also use sophisticated computer-based investigative tactics that involve accessing and sharing data with government agencies.

Under the auspices of treaties negotiated between the United States and foreign countries, the NICB also conducts investigations overseas -- including in Central and South American countries. These treaties also facilitate the sharing of computer and other data between U.S.-based investigative agencies and the foreign countries.

So you've never heard of the NICB?

If that’s the case, one of the oldest Hispanic civil rights groups in the nation, the League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC, wants to shed some light on the group for you.

Monday Morning Links: The Daily Disinfo Parade!

Publisher's Note: "Morning Links" for Tuesday and Wednesday have been added to this thread... Thursday and Friday to come...
Today's "Forero de Oro *TM" award for the smarmiest piece of disinformation by a Comercial Media ignoramus goes to Kim Housego of the Associated Press, who blames problems of addiction in Colombia caused by drug prohibition on the 1994 Supreme Court decision that decriminalized possession of small user quantities of marijuana, cocaine, and other drugs. Headlined Colombia sinks in sea of legal cocaine, heroin, Housego's story reveals all the usual stains of a lazy reporter taking dictation from the U.S. Embassy in exchange for future access to the drug of easy disinformation.

In fact, there is lots of disinfo today to unravel, from Colombia to Venezuela, plus a couple of encouraging news items from Bolivia, and, read on, in a tip of the hat to our current blogging muse Wonkette, who gets people to read about boring politicians with references to sex, see if you can find the words "blow job" (hint: it regards Oligarch's Daily and Gustavo Cisneros) in today's links roundup…

Narcosphere: The Road from Here

Hard though it was to tear myself out of that jungle rainforest that I love so much, and to which I owe so much of my formation, I'm glad to be back in the cockpit again, piloting this intercontinental jetfighter of Authentic Journalism.

I've said this already, but it bears repeating: You don't know how happy I am that there is a Narcosphere, that you are participating, that a news crisis (like a certain U.S. pol's statement on Venezuela) can happen at the absolute worst most incomunicado moment for me and to see that the copublishers jumped into action, dissected the story, and disseminated the good work done by others to save the day.

I'm going to address various open questions, below, about Narco News, The Narcosphere, and the School of Authentic Journalism, and share with you my current vision for the next four months of where we are going and how we will get there.

So, Co-publishers, click to read more and fire away. Vrooom! Vrooom!

Customs asked to investigate more reckless-driving charges against agent

Dorene Kulpa-Friedli lost her husband, U.S. Customs agent Gary Friedli, in a tragic auto accident in March 1998 along the Arizona border. Her husband was killed after the jeep he was in collided with the gas tank of a turning semi-truck.

At the time of the collision, the jeep was traveling some 20 mph over the speed limit on a dirt road.

The driver of the jeep was Customs agent Allan Sperling, who still works for the agency -- which is now part of the Department of Homeland Security.

Prior to the 1998 accident that killed Friedli, Sperling was involved in four other on-duty auto accidents, according to government documents.

Now, allegations have surfaced that Sperling has been involved in at least two additional auto accidents since Friedli's death.

“I do not think that Sperling set out to kill Gary (Friedli) that day; however, his driving actions that day did cause Gary's death,” Kulpa-Friedli asserted in a recent interview conducted by e-mail.

Armed with the latest charges concerning Sperling’s driving record, Kulpa-Friedli is seeking to re-ignite congressional interest in her husband's case.

Kulpa-Friedli contends “family members deserve to know the truth.”

“To have a cover-up or people lie to you just adds to the pain,” she adds.

Mario Menéndez: "Don't Cry: Fight!"

Hey, fellow and sister Co-publishers!

Special thanks to all of you who kept the updates and comments comin' during my days on the road: The quality of the work posted here generates a lot of compliments wherever I go. You should know: folks are reading your comments all over América, and elsewhere.

I headed, first, to Mérida, Yucatán, where the founder of the Authentic Journalism renaissance - and victorious co-defendant of Narco News in the Drug War on Trial case of 2001 - Mario Menéndez Rodríguez and his daily newspaper, Por Esto!, held their 13th anniversary breakfast on March 21st...

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