All Notebook Entries
- Posted by Al Giordano - August 31, 2004 at 2:09 pmNarco News Authentic Journalism professor and photojournalist Noah Friedsky today offers 45 photos, with informative captions, from this month's historic referendum campaign in Venezuela.
Friedsky, together with colleague Reed Lindsay, and often other members of the Narco News Team, crisscrossed the capital city of Caracas and the hills around it, spending five of those days in the poorest and most populous neighborhoods, listening to the people, learning about their new access to doctors, their volunteer labors to fix their sidewalks, engage in public works, map the makeshift homes that have sprung up over many years, and gain titles to their homes, of the availability of staple foods at below market price at state stores, of the the "missions" to feed the people, and of their hopes and dreams and attitudes about the Bolivarian Revolution and the process underway in this country of 24 million people.
Friedsky also takes you into the "opposition" camp and their rallies, and follows electoral observers such as former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, former Colombian president Cesar Gaviria and former Costa Rican president Rodrigo Alberto Carazo as they monitored the August 15th vote. And of course, he and his camera offer an up close look at President Hugo Chávez from Miraflores Palace to the streets of the popular barrios...
- Posted by Al Giordano - August 30, 2004 at 12:35 pmMarking the first year since the formation of "Good Government Councils" in Zapatista territory, the spokesman of Mexico's Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN, in its Spanish initials), Subcomandante Marcos, issued an eight-part set of communiqués and progress reports to the national and international public this month.
The communiques (plus translations of each to English by Irlandesa) appear on the newswire at Chiapas Indymedia.
Of certain interest here is the 5th part, titled Five Decisions of Good Government, which is prefaced:
During the first year of the Good Government Juntas, some internal accords were formalized, which were adopted some time ago now, and new decisions were defined. They have to do with conservation of the forests, drug trafficking, trafficking in the undocumented, the movement of vehicles in the regions and state elections for municipal presidents and the state Congress.
Consistent with the historic call for indigenous autonomy by the Zapatistas, they do not propose "national" or universal policies to be applied to others: they simply wish to determine their own policies, whether drug policies, or on other matters. In some other cultures, "local autonomy" is called "home rule," the concept that laws and polices must be determined from the bottom, and not imposed from the top.
Here's what they say about Zapatista laws regarding the trafficking of drugs and of persons...
- Posted by Al Giordano - August 29, 2004 at 9:37 amToday, exactly two weeks after the historic August 15 presidential referendum in Venezuela - won by President Hugo Chávez with around 59 percent of the vote - the Venezuelan "opposition" is dividing into two distinct camps: Those who admit that they lost and are analyzing why so that they can live to fight another day; and those who still can't or won't admit it, at least not in public.
Many members of the latter tendency, still accusing that an election fraud took place, but still unable to offer any convincing evidence - including the controversial U.S.-funded Súmate group - seem to be entering a genuine identity crisis. "Sumate is now cautiously saying that 'the numerical patterns found in the actas do not constitute conclusive proof of fraud' (El Nacional, Aug. 23rd, page A3)," notes anti-Chávez journalist Teodoro Petkoff of the daily Tal Cual in Caracas. And yet Súmate drifts deeper into its own stormclouds, as if on autopilot, still looking for that missing proof of a "fraud" that doesn't exist.
Petkoff's own coming-to-terms with the new Venezuelan (indeed, new American) reality makes for interesting reading. Francisco Toro translated Petkoff's August 25th editorial...
- Posted by Al Giordano - August 28, 2004 at 8:10 pmNewly declassified documents at the National Security Archive (NSA) reveal that, in 1976, then-U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger gave the wink-and-nod to Argentina's police state to begin a wave of terror, torture, and disappearances of political dissidents in that country.
The Guardian of London analyzes the impact of what Carlos Osorio of the NSA calls "a smoking gun."
- Posted by Baylen Linnekin - August 27, 2004 at 9:34 amIn recounting the regrettable failure of a marijuana-decriminalization bill in Chile, Al Giordano erroneously targets the one ideological group that has always consistently defended and fought for drug legalization: libertarians.
Giordanos attack on the free market is not surprising, considering his position on the far left of the political spectrum. And while one or two of his points are worth considering, in the end Giordano leaves us with an argument so baseless that it must for all purposes be considered intellectually and strategically worthless.
I offer up now a point-by-point rebuttal of the arguments made by Giordano, an otherwise fine person, using a blogging tactic known as fisking.
- Posted by Al Giordano - August 27, 2004 at 9:11 amOur colleague in Alabama, journalist and professor Stephen Flanagan Jackson, has gone to court seeking the lifting of a bizarre gag order imposed on Colombian miners, unions, and family members of those who were assassinated, in their lawsuit against the Drummond Company.
According to the Birmingham News, the gag order also censored the Colombian plaintiffs' Internet websites...
The gag order, granted in response to a request for it by Drummond, required the Colombian union and families to remove from Web sites information about the case, and links to other Web sites that contain the same.
Read the whole thing, via the link, above.
- Posted by Claudia Espinoza - August 26, 2004 at 1:19 pm
PUBLISHER'S NOTE: This breaking news story from Claudia Espinoza has now been translated to English and appears on page one of Narco News: http://www.narconews.com/ )El paro de transportes continúa; exigen el congelamiento de los precios de los carburantes y la nacionalización de los hidrocarburos.
Paros, marchas, bloqueos y cabildos marcaron la jornada del miércoles 25 de agosto en varias ciudades de Bolivia. La ciudad de La Paz, sede de gobierno, quedó totalmente incomunicada por el “paro movilizado” de los transportistas; la ciudad de El Alto marchó masivamente hasta la “hoyada”; los familiares de las víctimas y heridos de la “guerra del gas” exigieron el juicio a Goni; las marchas del Movimiento Sin Tierra que partieron desde Collana y Batallas llegaron a La Paz donde fueron reprimidas por policías y varios “sin tierra” fueron detenidos; en Cochabamba, miles de personas exigieron la Nacionalización de los Hidrocarburos en un gran cabildo realizado en la plaza principal.
- Posted by Al Giordano - August 25, 2004 at 8:51 amThe four members of the Constitution Commission of Chile's national Congress yesterday rejected a marijuana legalization bill sponsored by Senator Nelson Avila, who told the daily La Segunda that, although he'll keep fighting to change the marijuana laws, the bill now has little chance of passing on the floors of Congress.
"I will continue insisting on this change because our current laws, far from contributing to the eradication of drug trafficking, foment it because they obligate a person who smokes marijuana in the privacy of his home - which carries no penalty - to go to the mafias and cartels to procure it."
Senator Avila noted that he sought "to destroy the market for the drug mafias" with his bill, calling the current U.S.-imposed prohibitionist drug policies "profoundly wrong."
The decisión by Senators Alberto Espina, José Antonio Viera Gallo, Andrés Zaldívar and Mario Ríos to recommend the bill's defeat in Congress ought to be cause for reflection - and an adjustment in strategy - for drug policy reformers not only in Chile but across the continent...
- Posted by Al Giordano - August 23, 2004 at 3:20 pmThe Undemocratic Uncoordinator of Venezuela today denounced that Venezuelan weightlifter Israel Rubio's bronze medal in the Olympic Games in Athens is a gross example of another fraud committed by President Hugo Chávez. According to an exit survey by the New York polling firm Putz, Shinola & Boring for the impartial observer group, Chingate, it is statistically impossible for the Chavista Olympic team to get an Olympic medal because, as pollster Doug Shinola explains, "Venezuela hasn't won an Olympic medal in twenty years. Obviously, there was a gigantic fraud!"
Shinola accused Chávez of using oil profits to train this year's Olympic team, giving it an unfair advantage over other teams, and of buying off the countries of the competition's judges with cheap petroleum. He also noted the participation of "rogue nations" like Cuba and Lebanon in the same Olympic games. "If that isn't proof of a global terrorist conspiracy, what is?" shouted Shinola, banging his fist on the table, screaming, "Chávez must be killed! And I say that as an impartial pollster."
The results were further marred, claimed opposition leaders, by the suspicious disqualification of the original bronze medal winner, the Greek weightlifter Leonidas Sampanis, after he failed a drug test. "Of course, it had to be Chávez who slipped steroids into the Greek's drink," explained political consultant Eric Ecchhh. "Or is it just a coincidence that a Chavista was next in line?"
- Posted by Irene Roca Ortiz - August 23, 2004 at 1:34 amEntrevista con uno de sus principales portavoces, el arquitecto y escritor Sergio Antelo Gutiérrez
Desde su hamaca roja, Sergio Antelo me abrió el portón automático de su casa, la única casa roja de Santa Cruz. Me sorprende al entrar la escultura en madera tallada en forma de Tótem, la abundancia de vegetación y cuadros de diversos estilos que adornan su luminosa casa. La mano del arquitecto se deja ver en este espacio del que casi no sale, si no es a visitar las obras en las que trabaja y a los compromisos relativos a su movimiento.
Desde su hamaca roja, acogedor e informal, Sergio Antelo contesto a mis preguntas durante poco mas de dos horas, en las que me dejo apreciar una gran parte del paisaje que concierne a esta nebulosa que es la Nación Camba, desde la génesis del movimiento y su propuesta, pasando por la Historia, las criticas, los cocaleros hasta la delincuencia cruceña. Aquí se retranscribe la parte relacionada al problema de la coca en Bolivia y el movimiento cocalero.
Respecto a este tema, como respecto a muchos otros, es difícil saber con qué pie baila la Nación Camba. En este sentido, si Sergio Antelo parece estar de acuerdo con la lucha contra el narcotráfico orquestada por Estados Unidos, considera que la hoja de coca debería ser despenalizada. Además, aunque él tome mate de coca, el acullico no es una tradición, es un vicio.
Así, entre conocimiento, ignorancia y prejuicios, el discurso queda tambaleando en una profunda ambigüedad
- Posted by Yasmin Khan - August 22, 2004 at 6:10 pmWe have learned a lot about coca and the struggle to maintain traditional use in Bolivia in the past weeks, but what about the other side? What about the cocaine industry? How does coca become cocaine? How much is imported into the U.S.? How do the chemicals used to produce cocaine get from the U.S. to South America? Understanding this side of the issue is essential to understanding how to fight for the rights of cocaleros. More importantly, it is essential to expose the hand of the U.S. in illegal drug trafficking. Look for an article on cocaine production in an upcoming edtion of narcosphere or narconews.
- Posted by Al Giordano - August 22, 2004 at 11:08 amAs your publisher, I'm very, very, pleased with how The Narcosphere and the copublishers who make it run has performed in recent weeks.
The minute-by-minute, play-by-play coverage of the Venezuela referendum - both from our informational War Room in Caracas (thank you to Francisco Quintero and the tech support team at Cyber Ram on Av. 2a de las Delicias for letting us take over before, during, and after election day, and also our friends at Apporea.org, Z-Net, Venezuelanalysis.com and Indymedia Colombia, Puerto Rico, and England, Forum magazine of Brazil, as well as Venezolana de Televisión, VIVE TV, and Radio Nacional Venezolana for hooking up in our permanent online chatroom, sharing information, and participating in our vision of "the informational war room" in Caracas) and from our copublishers spread across América and the world, and also the Lord High Webmahster and managing editor Dan Feder at his post in Bolivia to keep everything running smoothly - who, together, showed that the Authentic Journalism renaissance is an idea whose time has come!
Since the referendum results have been known, less than a week ago, there have been 18 Reporters Notebook entries on The Narcosphere by nine of our journalists, 45 substantial comments by our copublishers, plus seven Narco News stories by six journalists, not just from Venezuela but also from Bolivia, Colombia, and other lands.
Now that we are no longer at our "secret" Caracas bunker, I can tell some war stories from those unforgettable days...
- Posted by Al Giordano - August 22, 2004 at 9:45 amThe hardest working man in English-language journalism from Latin America, Reed Lindsay, does it again.
His interview with Bolivian President Carlos Mesa appears today in the Toronto Star.
Here are some excerpts, below.
Read the whole thing.
- Posted by Yasmin Khan - August 21, 2004 at 12:32 pmLa Paz is quickly morphing into Chicago. In Spanish. The cold nights, the rain, the smoky bars, upscale restaurants and the majority of the people ignoring the abject poverty around them is like any big city. But La Paz, and Bolivia in general, has a rippling undercurrent of true radicalism rare in American cities. A media center here in La Paz, an idea pitched by a few narco kids, would be ideal. It would be easily intergreated into society because La Paz has an infinite number of willing contributors. It would be devoured and absorbed by the youth looking for an outlet for their political causes and an inlet of true information. It could be the center of South American indy media.
- Posted by Al Giordano - August 21, 2004 at 11:23 amInside the Washington DC beltway, one hand washes the other. Thus, it is no surprise that with the polling company Penn, Schoen & Berland being up against the ropes on its flawed methodology conducting an "exit poll" in Venezuela last Sunday, that a beltway insider like conservative columnist Michael Barone would rise to the firm's defense.
Barone, a columnist for U.S. News & World Report and the right-wing TownHall.com, won himself a "favor owed" from the polling firm yesterday with his column in U.S. News.
Of course, Barone has zero experience in Venezuela (does he even understand the Spanish language?) and goes way out on a limb in his ignorant presumptions Barone crawled so far out on that limb, that it won't take much effort to bring out the fact-checking chainsaw and cut him back down into the sewers of beltway insider punditdom. Vroom! Vrooooom! Let's go
- Posted by Al Giordano - August 21, 2004 at 8:34 amI'll say this about Jimmy Carter: He signs his own name on his election monitoring reports. This one is a beauty:
By Jimmy Carter
19 Aug 2004
Carter's report offers a behind-the-scenes account of what really happened during the Venezuela referendum on the term of President Hugo Chávez. Carter met with Chávez, with the National Elections Council, with all the opposition groups, and with the Commercial Media, in private, and now he tells all.
- The childish, paranoid, and anti-democratic behavior by opposition organizations and Commercial Media, before, during, and after the vote.
- The unwavering willingness by Chávez to abide by the referendum results even if they had gone against him.
- The willingness of the National Elections Council and the Armed Forces to abide by the 11th hour requests made by the Carter Center on behalf of the opposition in every case, and the compliance with those agreements during the voting.
- The consistency of the vote tabulations from start to finish in favor of the "NO" vote (the vote to keep Chávez as president).
- The fact that opposition group Súmate's own numbers showed that it knew it had lost the referendum (which makes a charade of Súmate's knowingly false protestations since then).
- The absolute fairness and freedom in every step of this election process.
- Posted by Al Giordano - August 20, 2004 at 6:10 pmBehind the now-demonstrably bogus rumor that SmartMatic touch screen voting machines in Sunday's Venezuela referendum on the presidency of Hugo Chávez had fraudulently imposed a cap on anti-Chávez votes was one man only, and he is known in pockets of América as a siren of sleaze: Political consultant Juan José Rendón, a.k.a. "J.J. Rendón."
Earlier this week, the pale and pasty-faced "political consultant" appeared on the national TV channel Globovision in Caracas, not disclosing any client whom he was representing, waving ballot result pages like snake oil, charging that the existence of similar numbers of "YES" votes (anti-Chávez) votes indicated that the machines had been rigged.
From what rock did this slime-ball J.J. Rendón crawl out from? Narco News has found the dirt under that stone. Read on, kind reader, read on...
His rumor - libelous against the company that made the machines - was deflated this morning in none other than The Wall Street Journal; a periodical with a special hostility to Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, but that had nonetheless had the common sense to interview an expert in statistics before repeating a viciously untrue rumor that would later discredit any newspaper or person that passed it on...
- Posted by Al Giordano - August 20, 2004 at 6:59 amHere on Narco News, we have skewered the transparent attempts by various international players in recent months and years to take cheap shots at the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela and its president Hugo Chávez: New York Timesman Juan Forero, Organization of American States leader Cesar Gaviria, Venezuelan guerrilla-turned-opposition-journalist Teodoro Petkoff, the Wall Street Journal staff, and even the Carter Center's Jennifer McCoy have been deservedly lambasted here for their partisan anti-Chávez manipulations carried out in recent months with the imprimatur of "objective" observation or journalism.
That's why it is so convincing, today, that each of the aforementioned individuals and organizations now publicly admit, after carefully reviewing the process of last Sunday's historic presidential recall referendum in Venezuela, that the vote was fair and free.
Yes, all of them say that the hard evidence indicates nothing of election fraud, even Forero!
The irresponsible Venezuelan "opposition" is now increasingly isolated, as these former escualidos point out, due to its childish insistence that the scoreboard is wrong, the eyewitnesses are wrong, everybody on earth is wrong about the final score except them, the side that lost.
Here is a round-up of what Chavez's most extreme critics say today about the cleanliness of Sunday's referendum process and results...
- Posted by Al Giordano - August 20, 2004 at 6:38 amThis story erupted more than two weeks ago - when the Narco News School of Authentic Journalism was assembling in Bolivia - but it deserves a mention and a link here on The Narcosphere.
After all, it was two years ago that Narco News exposed then-candidate for president in Colombia, Alvaro Uribe, as a narco-candidate. Uribe won the presidency, and the Commercial Media gave the now narco-president and friend of the Bush administration a free ride.
Newsweek reporter Joe Contreras recently got hold of a declassified U.S. Department of Defense memo that confirms the same...
- Posted by Alex Satanovsky - August 19, 2004 at 8:21 pmRemember the vague storyline of what happened from Sunday to today in the Bolivarian Republic? You know, the people woke up early, stood in long lines to vote, Chavez was declared winner at 4 in the morning, then the opposition claimed fraud, though the international observers said everything was a-okay.
If you think thats all that happened, youve missed, though more likely forgot something important.
- Posted by Bill Conroy - August 19, 2004 at 8:03 pmThe Dallas Morning News has come out with yet another story updating the investigation into the House of Death in Juárez, Mexico. The current story, like prior media stories on the case, reaffirms Narco News original reporting on the whole sordid affair.
In late April, Narco News published a major exposé (called The House of Death) about an informant for the U.S. government who was implicated in a series of murders in Juárez -- located just across the border from El Paso, Texas.
The informants handlers, agents with the El Paso office of the federal Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), were allegedly fully aware of the informants complicity in the murders, yet did nothing to stop the killing for fear of jeopardizing the cases they were trying to make with the informants help.
The recent story in the Dallas Morning News (ID required) reports the following concerning the ongoing investigation into the case involving that informant, who is known by the alias Lalo:
- Posted by Al Giordano - August 19, 2004 at 3:45 pmAs if the violations of law and professional ethics by U.S.-British polling company Penn, Schoen & Berland in Sunday's Venezuela referendum on the continued term of President Hugo Chávez did not heap enough abuse and intrigue upon the democratic process, now another piece of information to add to the pile
Keep in mind that the attempts by Penn, Schoen & Berland and their U.S. government funded client Súmate to discredit the Venezuela referendum results with one singular and inaccurate "exit poll" are not only intended to discredit democracy and the Venezuelan National Elections Council Their claims also maliciously attack the credibility of the touchscreen company, SmartMatic, and its subcontractors that made the voting machines for Venezuela, and that had gone to so much effort to make its machines fraud-proof.
Well, well, well it turns out that Penn, Schoen & Berland has another client One that makes - are you ready? - touch screen machines!
- Posted by Franz J.T. Lee - August 19, 2004 at 9:02 am¿Qué está realmente detrás de la manipulación masiva de los grandes medios de comunicación en Venezuela? Los efectos patológicos tienen un alcance mucho más allá de los intentos de la oposición y del gobierno de Bush de tumbar al Presidente Hugo Chávez Frías del poder político. Su adoctrinamiento sirve a los intereses del fascismo global en fabricación, sirve al Newspeak, al control mental, a la eternalización del actual orden mundial. Vamos a dar un breve vistazo a la esencia histórica, sicológica y filosófica de las funciones sociales de los cuatro jinetes del Apocalipsis (Chávez) en Venezuela, es decir, la manera en que intentan de disocializar, de desnaturalizar la población Venezolana, en una sola palabra, alienarla.
- Posted by Sean Donahue - August 18, 2004 at 12:49 pmThis morning Counterpunch ran a commentary of mine on John Kerry's disturbing statements about Bolivia: http://www.counterpunch.org/donahue08182004.html . In it I quote extensively from Oscar Olivera's speech at the J-School. Unfortunately, the bio I had attached to the original draft, which mentioned both Narco News and the J-School was cut short.
- Posted by Alex Satanovsky - August 18, 2004 at 10:48 amEveryone around the world who knew about the ongoing crisis in the Bolivarian Republic understood full well that this election was going to be a big event. It would be one of a few events, along with the 2002 coup detat and the winter 02/03 business lockout, that showed the conflict of Chávezs term in the Fifth Republic. Due to several inherencies of the ongoing events, the implications of this recall are a whole lot greater than merely tension over a national event. The referendum has the potential for far-reaching effects.
- Posted by Franz J.T. Lee - August 17, 2004 at 5:16 pmThe Battle of Santa Inés was victorious, in fact, we really expected nothing else; only the "Opposition" tenaciously is still decrying "fraud". In reality, the referendum that ratified genuine democracy in Venezuela -- like Venezuela's National Constituent Assembly, her "Contrato Social", that brought about the Bolivarian Constitution, and that has launched the Bolivarian Revolution -- was the most authentic, popular event in contemporary world history. Really, with all its up's and down's, Venezuela is teaching the world one revolutionary lesson after the other, is educating humanity what is world revolution, what is global emancipation all about.
- Posted by Sean Donahue - August 17, 2004 at 4:49 pmReflecting on the victory in Venezuela, and the fact that the official U.S. response in the wake of the referendum seems limited to bitter grumbling, I can't help but wonder would this have been allowed to happen if the U.S. weren't bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan? Does the Bush administration's obsessive focus on the Middle East serve to take some of the heat off Latin America, allowing events such as the Chavez victory in Venezuela and the toppling of Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada in Bolivia? I'd be interested in hearing other people's thoughts on this . . . .
- Posted by Alex Satanovsky - August 16, 2004 at 7:14 pmhttp://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/story .jsp?story=552287
In a marathon poll marked by high voter turnout, Venezuelans have ratified the mandate of President Hugo Chavez in a recall referendum that represents a monumental boost to his government and ablow to his domestic and foreign opponents.
Scattered protests erupted around Caracas yesterday as opposition leaders refused to accept results indicating Chavez won with 58 per cent of the vote, even after international observers endorsed the outcome.
A 62-year-old woman died and four others were wounded after a group of apparently pro-Chavez motorcyclists fired into a small opposition protest in a Caracas plaza, said Caracas Fire Chief Rodolfo Briceno. Opposition congressman Ernesto Alvarenga was among those hurt, Briceno said.
Ending hours of confusion, former American president Jimmy Carter, who helped monitor the referendum, endorsed the returns showing that the left-wing president had won the vote. "Our findings coincided with the partial returns announced today by the National Elections Council [CNE]," Mr Carter told a news conference, and urged Venezuelans to accept the result.
Reed, a Narco News graduate as far as I know, knows his journalism well. No ommissions of inconvenient facts, yet no jumping to conclusions. The opposition protests the vote, but it is in conflict with the opinion of the international observers. The people who fired on the anti-Chavez rally are only apparently pro-Chavez activists.
Quite disciplined yet open journalism.
- Posted by Alex Satanovsky - August 16, 2004 at 5:05 pmhttp://dailytelegraph.news.com.au/story.jsp?sectio nid=1274&storyid=1789430
THE US today declined to join international monitors in backing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's apparent victory in a recall election and called for a prompt, thorough and transparent probe into opposition claims of massive fraud.
While "noting" and praising the work of observers from former US president Jimmy Carter's Carter Centre and the Organisation of American States (OAS), the State Department said Washington was not yet ready to endorse a finding that Mr Chavez, a longtime US irritant, had prevailed in the vote.
Hmm.... looks like the situation has not completely simmered yet. Whats in store for the near future?