All Notebook Entries

  • Mexico: Cuauhtémoc Bows Out, Clears Path for López Obrador

    In politics, the hardest thing to do sometimes is stand down. That must be especially tough if you are a symbol of your country’s fight against authoritarian rule, the son of a revered president who always wanted to follow in his footsteps, and a man who won that post in 1988 only to have it stolen by computer-electoral fraud. But yesterday, former Mexico City governor Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas bowed out from contesting for the presidential nomination of his Democratic Revolution Party (PRD, in its Spanish initials), clearing a path for Andrés Manuel López Obrador to be his party’s nominee.

    Cárdenas (whose first name, Cuauhtémoc, means, in the ancient Nahuatl, or Aztec, language, “the eagle that lands”) has landed. Unlike Salvador Allende in Chile, Ronald Reagan in the U.S., Francois Mitterand of France or Lula da Silva of Brazil – each of whom lost three presidential contests before they won on the fourth try – Cárdenas steps aside.

    In part, his fate was determined by the recent filling of the left space on the national political spectrum by a non-electoral force: the Zapatistas.

    More analysis at the jump...

  • Mexico debates stepped-up drug war

    The following is a very good and courageous report where mainstream media is concerned. Hats off to the reporters and to the editor that allows this to run.

    Leaders cite arrests, seizures, but some say price has been violence

    12:50 PM CDT on Monday, July 4, 2005

    By LENNOX SAMUELS and LAURENCE ILIFF / The Dallas Morning News

     MEXICO CITY – Mexico finally is fighting the war on drugs that the U.S. government has demanded for decades: a frontal assault on drug barons, their organizations and their merchandise, using the police and military in concert with U.S. intelligence.

    The results, Mexican and U.S. authorities say, have been impressive. Forty-six thousand people jailed on drug charges, President Vicente Fox said in a recent speech, 97 tons of cocaine seized, more than a million marijuana plants destroyed. It's been four years, Mr. Fox and U.S. officials said, of steady progress.

    But a rising chorus of voices in Mexico and the U.S. says the real results are record levels of violence, instability and corruption in Mexico, resurgent drug cartels, nearly 200 dead police officers and soldiers, along with millions of wasted dollars in a country where half the population of 105 million is poor. Mexico receives almost no aid from the U.S. government.

    And the result in the U.S.? No noticeable drop in the supply of cheap drugs – and an actual decline in the price of cocaine, according to a new U.N. report.

  • Understanding the case of Luis Posada Carriles

    Original article with pictures and links:


    Wim Dankbaar on Luis Posada Carriles, reflections from a foreigner.

    Why does this terrorist get such protection from Bush? Here is the story!

    "Without the support from higher powers, Posada Carriles would just be a pawn. A pawn who would not have been able to bribe his escape from prison, to plan and execute terrorist attacks, and to slip through the mazes of Homeland Security. In other words, Posada and his friends need finance, backing and guidance", says Wim Dankbaar, the Dutch specialist on Kennedy's assassination. "So let's have a look at where his support comes from."

  • Libertarian voice

    It may come as a surprise to some that the only governor to actually try to get marijuana legalized in the United States was a Republican governor (Johnson) from the state of New Mexico. This stance may have cost him his job.

    And now one of the more courageous voices in our congress is a Republican with strong leanings toward libertarian philosophy--Ron Paul--from the state of Texas, no less.

    Aside from being a strong opponent of the Iraq war, he does not like spending money on the war on drugs in Colombia.

  • Peru: Gringo Ambassador Sides with Coca Growers' Leader

    And it’s no joke. The United States ambassador to Peru, don James Curtis Struble, just made a certain statement that, of course, the press agencies and commercial media “forgot” to mention. While speaking about the case of narco-trafficker Jorge Chávez Montoya, alias “Polaco” (“The Pole”), who the U.S. government has been wanting to extradite for some time (he even escaped from them in Miami), Ambassador Struble agreed with Peruvian coca growers’ leader Elsa Malpartida.

    Before sending Curt Struble – as the State Department knows him – a bouquet or roses in recognition, we’re going to tell you the whole story, and then we’ll move closer in to investigate… let’s go…

  • Perú: el embajador gringo le da la razón a una dirigente cocalera

    Y no es broma. El Embajador de Estados Unidos en Perú, don James Curtis Struble, acaba de soltar una declaración especial que, por supuesto, las agencias  de prensa y los medios comerciales "se olvidaron" de mencionar: al hablar del caso del narcotráficante Jorge Chávez Montoya, alias "Polaco", a quien el gobierno estadounidense quiere extraditar hace tiempo (es más se les fugó de Miami), el embajador Struble le dio la razón a la dirigente cocalera peruana Elsa Malpartida.

    Antes de mandarle en reconocimiento un ramo de rosas a don Curt Struble, como lo conocen en el Departamento de Estado, nos vamos a poner a contarles la historia y luego nos meteremos a investigar... vamos ahí...

  • Paramilitary Law Cements Colombia's Double Standard

    Any pretense that the U.S. and Colombian governments were cooperating in a real war on cocaine trafficking in Colombia was erased completely last week when the Colombian Congress passed the Orwellian "Justice and Peace Law" which allows paramilitary leaders implicated in drug trafficking to get off with a slap on the wrist, hold on to their wealth, maintain their terror networks, and escape extradition by making vague confessions and accepting light prison sentences.
  • Welcome, Comrade Mary Anastasia O'Grady!

    Wall Street Journal editorial writer Mary Anastasia O'Grady and the Narco News team - journalists all with Latin America as our beat - have not found much to agree on over the past five years.

    From her (still unsubstantiated) claims that Venezuela's government is funding Evo Morales and the coca growers' movements in Bolivia, to her frequent defenses of disgraced Bush advisor on Latin America Otto Reich, to her inferences that Jimmy Carter and Cesar Gaviria covered up what she claimed (without evidence) was an electoral fraud in Caracas last year, it seemed that O'Grady and we were destined to always view the same hemisphere through opposite lenses.

    Until now...

    In her recent column, Blame U.S. Drug Policy for the Bolivian Uprising, Mary Anastasia O'Grady sings in harmony - an amazing feat coming from a voice that croons only from the right side of the larynx - with the Narco News editorial position that we posted in the April 18, 2000 Opening Statement of the Authentic Journalism renaissance.

    Welcome aboard, Comrade O'Grady!

    More from her fascinating recent column at the jump...

  • Mexico's Fox on Zapatista Marcos: "I Await His Orders"

    Well, here's a novel way to boost sagging popularity in the polls for Vicente Fox: When the guerrilla organization that your government has persecuted for your entire term announces - as the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN, in its Spanish initials) said in a new communiqué this weekend - that it has just decided to expand its cause nationwide, Fox's first instinct is to grope for a photo op with the rebels!

    The Mexican president, today in the neighboring country of Belize, alongside that country's President Said Musa, responded to reporters' questions about the possible entrance by the Zapatistas into more above-ground political action (not necessarily electoral, please, nobody jump to conclusions). Fox said specifically about Zapatista Subcomandante Marcos:

    “I await his orders to work toward that integration."

    More after the jump...

  • Wiretap & Weapons Advisor Sought For U.S. Embassy-Bogota

    Wiretapping and weaponry – and the training and advisement of the Colombian National Police (CNP) and military in these seemingly disparate technical fields – are the prerequisite areas of expertise for the latest U.S. State Dept. advisor position created in Colombia.

    The Narcotics Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Bogota yesterday launched a search to employ and deploy such an advisor. The selected candidate will coordinate purchases of electronic surveillance equipment and weapons for CNP, and also will be responsible for ensuring that Colombian police and soldiers are properly trained to use the new gear.

  • A Shadow in the City: Confessions of an Undercover Drug Warrior

    By Charles Bowden

    reviewed by Don Henry Ford Jr.

    Bowden’s latest sheds light on a dark subject—the life and times of Joey O’Shay, a man who fought on the front lines of this thing we call the war on drugs for the past twenty plus years. When I say dark, I mean dark.

    I found myself closing the book to escape—to make sure the world of comfort I now inhabit was still there. But then I was drawn back for more, like some kid peering through fingers at a scary movie, wanting to see, yet not wanting to see, because I know that this is real: the people are real, the blood also, the deception, the lies, the callous disregard for life and family and love, and all those ruined lives, not the least of which is the life of Joey O’Shay.

    Read the rest of the review at

  • U.S. government continues to leave Hispanics behind

    The Federal Hispanic Law Enforcement Officers Association (FHLEOA) has posted some dismal statistics on its Web site with respect to the Bush Administration’s track record on hiring Hispanic federal employees.

    The figures are taken from a semi-annual report to the president prepared by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM). The report provides data on Hispanic employment and hiring in the federal government.

    From the report:

    In FY 2004, the permanent Federal workforce included 123,207 Hispanics compared to 115,600 in FY 2003. This represents a 6.6 percent increase in the number of Hispanics government-wide. In terms of representation, Hispanics represented 7.3 percent of the Federal workforce in FY 2004, compared to 7.0 in FY 2003.

    … The percentage of Hispanic new hires decreased from 9.7 percent in FY 2003 to 8.5 percent in FY 2004. The number of Hispanics hired decreased from 9,090 in FY 2003 to 7,896 in FY 2004. This trend is partly explained by the decrease in the total number of government-wide new hires in FY 2004.

    What isn’t explained, though, is why only 7.3 percent of federal employees are Hispanic, up a paltry .3 percent from the prior year, when Hispanics represent nearly 13 percent of the work force overall nationwide.

  • Hypocrisy Rules in Posada Case

    George Bush, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld and high level staff from various agencies sat around the large oval mahogany table, a gift from Richard Nixon to the United States, in the Cabinet Room of the White House. . .
  • Posada Carriles may well choke on Bush's pickle

    Accused anti-Castro terrorist Luis Posada Carriles will have to sit in a jail cell in El Paso, Texas, a bit longer. His bail hearing before U.S. immigration judge Lee Abbott has been postponed until July 25, according to news reports.

    Strangely, the major mainstream media outlets have been slow to pick up on the news.

    If you recall, Posada Carriles was arrested in Miami in mid-May after allegedly entering the United States illegally via the Texas/Mexico border. He then claims to have taken a bus from Texas to Miami.

    Well that tall tale may be coming back to haunt the long-time CIA operative who is accused of blowing up a Cuban airliner in 1976, snuffing out the lives of some 73 innocent people. Of course, that is just the tip of the ice pick in terms of the crimes Posada Carriles stands accused of in the eyes of the world. Venezuela, in particular, wants justice served up to Posada Carriles and is seeking his extradition in connection with the airline bombing.

    The 77-year-old Posada Carriles is a native of Cuba but later also became a citizen of Venezuela, where the airline-bombing plot was allegedly masterminded. Now, he is seeking to wrap himself in the U.S. flag in a bid for political asylum – part of a desperate attempt to protect himself from the fate his past deeds have thrust upon his future.

    But it’s tough to beat fate when you’re playing against the house.

  • USAID Unfolds 'Plan Jamaica'

    The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is reviewing proposals to help it carry out its latest economic development strategy for Jamaica, a five-year joint initiative whose stated, primary goal is to "improve the education of targeted Jamaican youth." The agency began soliciting proposals in late May, and has set a July 15 deadline for proposal submissions.

    Among the many segments of the USAID plan – which is formally known as the Sustainable Development Strategy for Jamaica 2005-2009 – are initiatives to get parents more involved in their children’s school systems, to reduce violent and disruptive behavior of young men, and to increase government accountability to control corruption.

  • El vocero presidencial mexicano lo confirma: las drogas no estaban en territorio zapatista

    Recién llegó esto. El vocero del presidente mexicano Vicente Fox, en respuesta a preguntas de los medios, ha apenas confirmado que la reciente incautación militar en los campos de marihuana en Chiapas no tuvieron lugar en territorio zapatista:

    El vocero presidencial, Rubén Aguilar Valenzuela, reconoció que hubo un error en las declaraciones del secretario de Relaciones Exteriores, Luis Ernesto Derbez, sobre los plantíos de droga que se encontraron en diversas zonas del estado de Chiapas, lo cual, aclaró, no estaban dentro de la zona de influencia zapatista.

    Vean nuestra nota, “México: La falsa calumnia de narcos contra los zapatistas”, para más detalles.

  • México: La calumnia de narcos contra los zapatistas

    La veloz secuencia de comunicados en días recientes, “desde algún lugar en las montañas del sureste mexicano”, del Subcomandante Marcos a nombre del Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacionl (EZLN), especialmente el comunicado del lunes pasado que anunció que los rebeldes indígenas de Chiapas han lanzado una alerta roja, han dejado a varios actores de todas partes en ascuas.

    El buzón de entrada de mi correo electrónico se llenó con pedidos de “más información” o para explicar “lo que realmente está pasando”, y me doy cuenta qué tan cínicos consumidores de noticias se han vuelto. La sociedad no está acostumbrada a generadores de noticias que hacen lo que dicen, y eso solamente hace a los zapatistas difíciles de entender. Mi respuesta es: ¡Lean los comunicados! Son bastante explicativos.

    Por otra parte, los gobierno, a diferencia de los zapatistas, nunca hacen lo que dicen y raramente dicen lo que  hacen. La alerta roja zapatistas llega en un momento de despliegue masivo de tropas mexicanas alrededor de los 38 municipios autónomos y las alrededor de 1,111 comunidades abiertamente declaradas como rebeldes y autogobernadas con los zapatistas.

    Los movimientos de tropa en Chiapas, de hecho, están relacionados a la nueva campaña de simulación antidrogas del Presidente Vicente Fox, “México Seguro”…

  • U.S. Creates Security Advisor Position to Assist Colombian Police

    The U.S. State Dept. has created a new Security Advisor position to assist the Colombian National Police (CNP) in repelling attacks on police stations and counterdrug bases throughout the country. Whereas most U.S. advisors in the recent past have been deployed to oversee aerial drug-interdiction operations, this newly developed position clearly indicates a level of stepped-up U.S. involvement in ground-based conflicts.
  • Mexico Presidential Spokesman Confirms: The Drugs Were Not on Zapatista Lands

    This just in: The press secretary for Mexican President Vicente Fox, in response to questions from the media, has just confirmed that the recent military raid on marijuana fields in Chiapas did not occur on Zapatista lands:

    "The presidential spokesman Ruben Aguilar Valenzuela admitted that there had been an error made by Secretary of State Luis Ernesto Derbez regarding the drug plantations that were found in various areas of the state of Chiapas, which, he clarified, were not inside the Zapatista zone of influence.

    See our related story from yesterday, Mexico: The False Narco-Smear Against the Zapatistas, for more details.

  • Showdown: Washington Threatens Ecuador, Demands Immunity for U.S. Troops

    The Guayaquil, Ecuador daily El Universo reports:

    President Palacio Will Not Approve Immunity for U.S. Soldiers in World Court

    This is potentially large. Read on...

    Ecuador's President Alfredo Palacio has decided not to sign an immunity treaty for U.S. military and civilian officials before the World Court, confronting Washington, which considers (the Ecuadoran capital of) Quito as important to its war on drugs...

    It's about the Manta, Ecuador, U.S. military base, the key "Forward Operating Location" (FOL) for the U.S. military intervention named "Plan Colombia." And Washington is now trying to blackmail Ecuador's new (60-days-old) President, Alfredo Palacio with threats of cutting aid.

    "Absolutely no one is going to frighten me," Palacio told the press. "Neither the government, nor Alfredo Palacio, nor the Ecuadoran people should be afraid."

    The outgoing U.S. Ambassador is freaking out...

  • Mexico: The False Narco-Smear Against the Zapatistas

    The rapid-fire sequence of communiqués in recent days "from somewhere in the mountains of the Mexican southeast" by Subcomandante Marcos in the name of the Zapatista Army for National Liberation (EZLN, in its Spanish initials), especially the Monday communiqué that announced that the indigenous rebels of Chiapas had called a "Red Alert," has placed various actors on all sides on tenterhooks.

    My emailbox runneth over with pleas for "more information" or to explain "what is really happening" and I realize how cynical news consumers have become. Society is not used to newsmakers who do what they say, and that, alone, makes the Zapatistas difficult for many to understand. My response is: Read the communiques! They're self-explanatory. I'll place links to English translations of the recent Zapatista comms below the jump.

    On the other hand, governments, unlike the Zapatistas, never do what they say and rarely say what they do. The Zapatista "Red Alert" comes on the heels of a massive redeployment of Mexican military troops surrounding the 38 Autonomous Municipalities and 1,111 or so villages that openly declare themselves to be in rebellion and self-government with the Zapatistas.

    The troop movements in Chiapas, in fact, are related to President Vicente Fox's new "Mexico Seguro" ("Safe Mexico") simulation of an anti-drug campaign...

  • Webb and Woodward: Two Journalists, Two Fates

    There is a very interesting column in today's El Diario, New York's Spanish-language daily, by Vicki Pelaez.

    The original in Spanish appears at this link: Dos Periodistas, Dos Destinos.

    Although I quibble with some of her details (particularly the suggestion that my friend and yours Gary Webb did not commit suicide, her overly simple description of his groundbreaking CIA-cocaine reports, and I can't confirm the veracity of all the details she offers about Bob Woodward's role as "an agent" of the system, although it is undisputable that he was a man of the system) her essential point about how the simulation of "journalism" operates in the United States is an important basic truth that all journalists and citizens ought to better understand.

    I'll translate some key excerpts here:

    Two Journalists, Two Fates

    by Vicki Pelaez
    El Diario/La Prensa

    “Only he who has no fear of dying for telling the truth is dignified to speak it”

    - José María Vargas Vila, founder of El Diario/ La Prensa

    The fate of two North American journalists, Bob Woodward and Gary Webb, shows us how things work in this country. Both denounced grave governmental sins but the one who was already part of the group in power became the most spoiled and enriched pressman in the United States, whereas the other, a reporter who pursued the truth lost his life...

    More at the jump...

  • Bolivia: Resoluciones del Encuentro Nacional

    El sábado 18 de junio en Cochabamba se realizo el Encuentro Nacional de Organizaciones Sociales, donde participaron diferentes sectores sociales del país, entre ellos las FEJUVES de Santa Cruz, La Paz y Cochabamba.

    El Encuentro Nacional Histórico de las Organizaciones Sociales, Cívicas, Populares, Patrióticas y Sindicales.
    Después de un análisis profundo sobre los temas de interés Nacional como:

    Los  Recursos Naturales, la Asamblea Constituyente, Referéndum Autonómico, Juicio de responsabilidades a Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada.

    Resuelve lo siguiente:

  • U.S. House Panel Seeks to Boost Global Drug-War Funds

    The Andean Counterdrug Initiative would get $735 million under a bill that a U.S. House panel approved today, a proposal that matches the Bush Administration's fiscal year 2006 request and represents a $9 million increase over the FY 2005 level. The revised bill would carve out $512 million specifically for Colombia.

    The House Appropriations Foreign Operations Subcommittee, which referred the bill to the full committee for consideration, also marked up a separate $437 million proposal for International Narcotics Control programs -- an increase of $111 million over last year. Although this request is $89 million less than the Bush Administration's overall proposal request for the international counterdrug programs, it is proposing to boost the President's $30 million request for Mexico by an additional $10 million.

  • Nuevo Laredo: La ley marcial es un espectáculo mediático en la fallida guerra contra las drogas

    “No estamos en la era de Al Capone o de la Prohibición”.

    -Jefe de policía Alejandro Domínguez, antes de su muerte

    Es un sueño húmedo para los periodistas de los medios comerciales: el nuevo jefe de la policía mexicana en la ciudad fronteriza de Nuevo Laredo (Tamaulipas) llegó al cargo el pasado miércoles. Nueve horas después fue balaceado. El embajador de Estados Unidos en México, Tony Garza, rápidamente emitió un comunicado de prensa, tocando las notas de la canción de se los advertí: “Hace unas semanas le pedí al Departamento de Estado que publicara un aviso público sobre la violencia imperante en la región de la frontera”.

  • ONU DC : aumento de 3% en 2004 sobre la producción de coca en los Andes

    Según el informe de la Organización de las Naciones Unidas de lucha contra la Droga y el Crimen (ONUDC) presentado hoy en Viena, la producción de coca en Perú, Colombia y Bolivia conoce un aumento global que, por primera vez en cuatro años, llega al 3% en 2004. (para mayores detalles, ver la versión en francés o el comunicado de prensa en inglés).

    Sin embargo, la producción global de coca ha disminuido de un tercio desde el año dos mil… Narconews nos ha contado muchas veces como. En Colombia, la producción global se habría reducido a la mitad desde el año 2000. Pero en Perú y Bolivia (principalmente en el Chapare), habría aumentado de 14% y 17% respectivamente en 2004 (respecto al 2003, me imagino, porque parece que las cifras se leen solas…). Por supuesto, esta situación les parece “preocupante”. Ya sabemos, para ellos, coca es cocaína.

  • Nuevo Laredo's Guns, Made in the U.S.A.

    Ricardo Sala writes of the human costs of a military incursion into northern Mexico that is unlikely to make much of a dent in that region’s drug supplies. Another unavoidable, ugly result of this increased militarization is one the Mexican government is well aware of: a stepped-up arms race between and among narcos as they face more and better-armed enemies. And where do those gangsters get their guns? The same place everyone else does – from the United States arms industry.
  • Operativo México Seguro

    I just finished the editorial message for our website Vive Con Drogas. This is an English version for the Narcosphere.

    The war on drugs has escalated in Mexico since January this year and especially in the past two weeks (see Al's account in the narcosphere.) On Saturday the President announced the activation of Operativo México Seguro in three states. On Monday Presidencia delivered an Informe detailing its purposes and strategy.

    In the cities where the operativo will take place, the involved forces have scattered in streets, city squares, avenues and neighborhoods in order to reinforce security and dissuade and avoid the commitment of all kinds of illicit acts. The Operativo México Seguro also plans to take preventive actions as well as searching outside of restaurants, bars, discos and night clubs in these cities...

  • Goni, Using His Typical Newspeak, Talks to the BBC

    In an exclusive interview with the BBC’s Spanish service on Monday, Bolivia’s former president, Gonzalo “Goni” Sánchez de Lozada, let shine his great analytical abilities, combined with an extraordinary discourse looking to create his version of “truth.”  This meant not just linking the Bolivian political crisis to Colombian drug trafficking, but also giving a quite original version of the events that obligated him to resign and hide himself in Miami…
  • Bolivia's Gas War Moves Inside

    The images of a returning "normality" in the capital of Bolivia are seductive.  Fleets of oversized pick-up trucks filled with thousands of gas cisterns roll out of the Senkata Gas Plant in El Alto, past police guards who stand chatting next to the burned tires, rocks and barbed wire remnants of blockades that had shut down the facility for the past two weeks.  The trucks zoom down the cleared Autopista highway that connects El Alto to La Paz towards the eager masses. On residential streets, rusted yellow gas cisterns snake along the pavement while neighbors visit, waiting to refill their supply of liquid cooking gas that had run out the week before.  A few blocks away, a gas station owner crosses his arms across his chest, nods and smiles, watching the line of thirsty cars grow as word spreads that he has gotten his shipment of fuel. On the Prado, cars and minibuses chug along past open store fronts and happily shopping tourists, unencumbered by angry protesters or the fog of tear gas. Abel Mamani, President of Fejuve (the El Alto neighborhood organization), shakes hands with the new President, who has vowed to bring about new general elections. Cut to scenes of campesinos clearing away boulders and tree trunks on the roads that connect Bolivia to neighboring Chile and Peru. And, for the mainstream media: fade to black.

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