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¡Narcoesfera bilingüe!

Como escribí aquí hace poco tiempo, hacer bilingüe (y finalmente trilingüe) este sitio web es el proximo objetivo importante para la Narcoesfera. Hoy damos el primero verdadero paso hacia ese fin.

As I wrote a short time ago here, getting this site fully bilingual (and eventually trilingual) is the next major goal for the Narcosphere. We've taken the first real step in that direction today.

Plan Colombia and its offspring

A thread to discuss US military "aid" to the Andean Nations.

Inmates, Please Run the Asylum

A message to all copublishers and readers:

Pleasantly surprised by the amazing success by The Fund for Authentic Journalist in meeting the deadline to give new birth to the Narco News School of Authentic Journalism, I find I am behind in my own responsibilities and deadlines to that project...

Treasurer Grice Reports: "We Did It!"

This just in from Andrew Grice, treasurer of The Fund for Authentic Journalism:

"We did it! Today we broke the $10,000 mark, thus enabling the second installment of the matching grant from the Tides Fund for Drug Policy Reform. I must admit, I myself had some serious doubts if we could pull this off. But the readers and Co-publishers of Narco News pulled together and chipped in to make it happen. Thank you everyone. You've proven that authentic journalism has a viable future, that it can't be silenced.

"I'd especially like to thank Tim Meehan, Colleen Glynn, Laura Del Castillo, Trevor Top, Nate Johnson and Ben Melançon, whose contributions of time and talent were critical in helping us rise to the task on time… and of course, everyone who gave so generously.

Andrew Grice, Treasurer
The Fund for Authentic Journalism
P.O. Box 71051
Madison Heights, MI  48071

A Response from the Narco News Team to The Fund and our readers...

Mexican whistleblower facing wrath of U.S. justice system

Is Ricardo Cordero Ontiveros a good cop gone bad, or is he the victim of retaliation for exposing bad cops?

That's the issue before a federal judge in San Antonio, Texas, where Cordero finds himself behind bars, denied bond and charged with laundering millions of dollars in illicit drug money.

Cordero, the former head of a high-profile Mexican anti-narcotics squad, also found himself on the wrong side of the law in the mid-1990s after blowing the whistle on corruption within the ranks of Mexican law enforcement.

Cordero, who in 1995 served as the deputy director of Mexico's National Institute to Combat Drugs (INCD), claimed at the time that drug-traffickers had gotten their hooks into Mexican law enforcement on a grand scale. After resigning from his post in the wake of going public with his allegations, Cordero was arrested by Mexican police on bribery and narco-trafficking charges. He was later convicted and spent more than a year in prison before winning his release on an appeal.

Cordero claimed he had been framed for exposing the rampant law-enforcement corruption in Mexico. Mexican officials countered that Cordero went public with his corruption charges only after he learned he was under investigation.

Now Cordero is back in the hot seat, this time on the U.S. side of the border. He was indicted with little fanfare last November on four counts of money laundering and has been sitting in jail in San Antonio ever since.

El Salvador Votes on Sunday

Sunday, March 21, is the first day of Spring in the northern hemisphere...

And it is the first day of autumn in the southern hemisphere....

It is also the birthdate of Benito Juárez, Mexico's first and only indigenous president, who created a system of rights under law and separated Church from State....

It is also the 12th anniversary of the daily Por Esto!, Mexico's third largest newspaper, published by my victorious co-defendant Mario Renato Menéndez Rodríguez. (I will be reporting live from Mérida on Sunday, celebrating the Authentic Journalism renaissance with our fearless leader and author of the phrase "Authentic Journalism.")

March 21st is the day when the sun shines upon the ancient Maya pyramid at Chichén Itza, near Mérida, to form the shadows-and-light shape of a serpent...

This year, March 21st has another significance, too.

It could be, just maybe, just perhaps, the day that a former guerrilla comandante wins the election for president of El Salvador.

As Newsday reported three hours ago:

For the first time since the country's brutal 1980-92 civil war ended, the candidate of the former leftist rebels who battled the right-wing government has a chance of winning the presidency.

Menéndez (the journalist who the guerrilla commanders in El Salvador chose when they decided to reveal their true identities) and I will be reporting the results to you on Sunday night, live, as they come in.

Ah, yes... Narco News... always with a new surprise.

Wonder what will come tomorrow... and next week...

Stay tuned.

24 Hours - The Final Stretch

This is so exciting!  We're coming down to the last 24 hours in our all important quest to raise $10,000 by the end of March 18th and qualify for another installment of our matching grant.  Honestly, when I wrote that "10 Days to Save J-School" plea, I doubted whether we could pull it off.  That's why I'm so absolutely thrilled to report that we are now within spitting distance of our goal.  We've raised $9542.55.  Just $457.45 to go.  

So how about it folks?  If you've been putting off your contribution until the last minute because you liked the extra drama, now is your chance.  Who will be the heroes riding to the rescue in the final reel?  Who's click on a PayPal link will echo like a mighty thunder throughout the Americas?

Please, go to the website and give generously.  Thank you.

The Smoking Gun: Aristide Didn't Resign

The jig is really up.

BigLeftOutside reader Hal C. reports, with links:

The Lawrence (KS) Journal World has a pdf of Aristide's resignation letter linked to an article on the professor chosen by the state department to provide an independent rendering of the text.

KU's Bryant Freeman, a specialist in the Haitian Creole language, said Aristide's letter never said, "I am resigning."

Here is the Lawrence Journal-World link to the original letter.

Here is (for safe keeping, just in case others get timid or intimidated) The Narcosphere permanent and eternal link to the same letter...

Gerard Latortue, Haiti's Illegitimate Ruler

The gloves are off.

U.S.-and-French-installed Viceroy of Haiti, Gerard Latortue, is now demanding that the sovereign nation of Jamaica refuse to allow legitimately elected Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to stay on the neighboring island country, according to this report from Reuters:

Haiti's new leader fired a diplomatic broadside at Jamaica on Friday for allowing ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to visit, while U.S. and French troops came under renewed attack by gunmen...

Latortue announced he might fly to Haiti's Caribbean neighbor this weekend to pursue an agreement with Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson to limit Aristide's stay.

"Since the word was known yesterday afternoon that Aristide is coming to Jamaica we have observed an increase in tensions in Port-au-Prince," Latortue told reporters.

According to the US Government's Voice of America, Washington wants Aristide muzzled while in Jamaica, too.

This is "democracy?" No, this is what the aftermath of a coup d'etat looks like.

Coca Leaf: A Breakthrough in Bolivia?

According to a report by BolPress today, the Bolivian government and coca growers came to an agreement to "begin a campaign for decriminalization of coca leaf."

The report states:

The government and the coca growers agreed to begin joint actions toward the United Nations to achieve the decriminalization of coca leaf in the assembly that will be held in April in Vienna, Austria.

The State House in Cochabamba was the seat of yesterday's meeting between Chapare coca growers and government officials, after the coca growers gave a deadline of March 22nd for a response to the demand of a cessation of forced eradication.

According to Evo Morales, leader of the coca producers, the government agreed to launch a campaign to decriminalize coca leaf in the United Nations...

...the government did not rule out... a pause in eradication... (or) the possibility of declaring a legal zone for coca production and manufacturing...


Ten Days to Save J-School!

March 7, 2004
Please Distribute, especially to those who can help

Dear Friends and Readers,

Good news.  We've now passed the halfway mark and raised $5,403 toward our next $10,000 matching grant installment to Narco News. The hard part is that we have just ten days - until March 18, when the Narco News School of Authentic Journalism must decide how many scholarships to offer for the upcoming summer session in South America, and open up the application process in time - to raise another $4,597.

Your responses and donations over the past two weeks - especially to guest appeals by Tim Meehan, by Colleen Glynn, and by Laura del Castillo Matamoros - have brought us more than halfway.

It's inspiringly clear - from your contributions, increased readership, and renewed enthusiasm from our journalists throughout Latin America - that there is tremendous response to the re-launch of Narco News that occurred on February 16, just 19 days ago!

Bush, Haiti & Venezuela: A Children's Tale

CARACAS, VENEZUELA, MARCH 6, 2004: There are three very short words in Venezuela that often provoke smiles when they are spoken: "No fui yo!" (It wasn't I).  They are heard when someone releases gases from their stomach and doesn't want to own up to it.

The March 1 edition of the Caracas daily, Ultimas Noticias, has a photo of the ambassador of the United States to Haiti, Brian Foley, with his hands open and an interesting look on his face.  I cannot see the words that are coming out of his mouth but "no fui yo" would seem very suitable for the moment.  And he would be speaking the truth.  He is only a part of the machine that crushed Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

The night before I received an email from a reporter friend whom I respect very much.  He is a young hard-working journalist and graduate of the first Narco News School of Authentic Journalism, Reed Lindsay...

NYT's Forero Through the Looking Glass

Like Alice in Wonderland, disgraced New York Times reporter Juan Forero found himself in a world today that is far from the stodgy halls of the Cathedral of 43rd Street…

He went to the studios of Venezuela Community Media, a story he has ignored for these years that he's been so busy doing the bidding of coup plotters and oligarchs.

Here's a fresh photo, taken today, Saturday, March 6th, of Forero in Caracas, Venezuela, where he entered the studios of Community Radio Perola, where he interviewed Community Journalists Carles Carles, Elida Polanco, and others. A journalist who was present reports:

"We hope that he writes an article without falsifying the reality, and that's what I told him. But it seemed strange to me that he didn't want us to photograph him. He was very evasive the whole time, and he found it strange that we broadcast a political program and that we tell the truth about Yankee totalitarianism. Well, let's wait and see what he writes."

But if past is prologue, Forero has behaved unethically before (see below), so it will be interesting to see what his real agenda was to visit Radio Perola…

Aristide Is Muzzled... and So Is the Press

Agence France Presse reports (via The Jamaica Observer):

Aristide muzzled
Contact with journalists restricted, say hosts

Saturday, March 06, 2004

BANGUI, (AFP) - The Cabinet in the Central African Republic went into talks yesterday, reportedly to discuss what to do with their difficult guest, ousted Haitian leader, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and took steps to keep him quiet.

National radio announced that all local and foreign journalists with questions relating to Aristide, who has annoyed his hosts with embarrassing statements, must henceforth first address themselves to the CAR authorities.

"All agents of the private press and the foreign press must go to the foreign ministry over any matter related to the stay of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, for better coordination and orientation," said a broadcast government statement.

I'll have more thoughts on this in a moment, but wanted to turn on the microphone and get everybody else who is not muzzled or kept by force from the Internet screen, who is not a deposed-n-kidnapped-but-legitimately-elected president, and who is not a eunuch of the Commercial Media, to get unmuzzled and start talking right away.

After all, if they're that desperate to shut him up, there must be a lot still left to be said.

Spotlight On: Colombia Fumigation

The expensive U.S. military adventure named "Plan Colombia" and renamed (in a rare moment of candor by those who want to expand Colombia's civil war beyond its borders) the "Andean Regional Initiative," has so many things wrong with it (massive human rights violations, strengthening of paramilitary death squads, massacres, assassinations of hundreds of union and social leaders, and the delivery of the Colombian state and military to control by the narco) that critics have had to play defense, constantly reacting to every new horror, and have thus lost much focus.

Now is the time for those members of Congress and activist groups concerned about this atrocity to bring new players onto the field and to begin playing offense: Specifically, against the plan's weakest link and one that, by itself, causes great harm: the widespread aerial spraying of herbicides over vast tracts of farmland, including in the Amazon basin. (See Narco News' report from May 2003 for more background, plus some more recent links below.)

Everybody, it seems, from corporate America on down, claims to want to "save the rainforest." It's often a feel-good cause that even includes ice cream and other consumer products named for it. But the spear has not been sufficiently raised and pointed, or emerged beyond the kind of "humanrightsspeak" inside-the-beltway language that tends to overwhelm and blunt public outrage. Frankly, environmentalists have always been much better at sounding alarms…