All Notebook Entries

  • U.S. prosecutors cut deal to bury the House of Death

    U.S. Department of Justice officials have taken the predictable path in the House of Death mass-murder case. They have allowed the snake to swallow its tail.

    U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton in San Antonio, Texas, announced earlier this week that his office cut a plea bargain with Heriberto Santillan-Tabares, who U.S. prosecutors claim is a top lieutenant in Vicente Carrillo Fuentes’ Juárez drug organization.

    Santillan had been charged with cocaine and marijuana smuggling along with five counts of murder. His case was slated to go to trial this May in federal district court in San Antonio.

    The plea deal caps more than a year-long effort by federal prosecutors and ICE officials to keep a lid on the U.S. government’s complicity in multiple murders in the Mexican border town of Ciudad Juárez.

  • Gutiérrez se tambalea: sin apoyo militar ni político

    Hace apenas unos minutos el Congreso de Ecuador, controlado desde anoche por los partidos de oposición y sesionando en un edificio diferente a su sede (que sigue cercada y semi tomada por los estudiantes, producto de la "operación mochilazo"), ha tomado la determinación de destituir a Lucio Gutiérrez como Presidente de la República.

    Por su parte la cúpula militar ecuatoriana, en una conferencia de prensa realizada hace menos de una hora, han retirado todo apoyo a Gutiérrez y las tropas han comenzado a abandonar el centro de Quito, donde se encuentra el Palacio de Carondelet (y el presidente)... Gutiérrez, de seguir la presión, podría renunciar en las próximas horas.

  • NOBODY Expects the Spanish Inquisition . . Hungover Papal Ramblings

    I used to say that being a lapsed Catholic was like being a Red Sox fan . . .  you knew things would never go your way, but you always held out hope that someday things would change.  

    Of course, the Red Sox won the last World Series . . .  and so I let myself let my guard down a little bit when the Papal Conclave locked its doors Monday morning.  I guess being a Recovering Catholic is more like being a recovering alcoholic than I would really like to admit.  I guess somewhere in witch school they forgot to teach me the spell for banishing latent Catholicism. And today I have one hell of a hangover, reading that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has become Pope Benedict XVI.

  • Protests Spreading Against Gutiérrez in Ecuador

    Ecuadorian President Lucio Gutiérrez, who has so far endured six days of growing protests against his government, went on Colombia’s influential Caracol Radio yesterday to defend his legitimacy, saying:

    “I was elected with 59 percent of the vote, three million votes, not by the 3,000 or 5,000 who shout ‘out with Lucio,’ who are sponsored by a political party.”

    Lucio’s denial about the seriousness of a crisis and the scale of the opposition is not a good sign, and hopefully does not mean that he anticipates having to justify repression or human rights violations. Radio La Luna, heroically broadcasting nonstop updates on the demonstrations and the sentiments of the people in the streets, has asked listeners to report any human rights violations. The situation is  unclear but voices have come on the air reporting unjustified mass arrests at the hands of the military.

  • Anti-immigrant protesters driven by economic fears, propaganda about drugs & terrorism

    A truly masterful news article by Gabriel Thompson at the New Standard, headlined "Arizona Minutemen Driven Largely By Sense of Insecurity, Victimization" (a must-read in its entirety) has a few facts of particular interest from the Narco News drug war & democracy perspective.
  • US Forms Task Force to Maintain Grip On Colombian Peace Process

    A nascent Peace Process Task Force organized by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has been meeting regularly to prepare for what it calls “the hoped-for, multi-year Colombian peace process,” according to a newly obtained government planning document. One of the group’s goals is to scrutinize and, if deemed necessary, alter the course of initiatives launched by “non-U.S.” governmental organizations such as the International Criminal Court and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the document points out.
  • Ecuador and Politics, Outsider Looking In

    I've been back from Ecuador for 14 days now, so I can't give a ground report on Quito at the moment; I will however try to explain an Ecuadorian view towards politics and politicians. Please, remember this is from a gringo outsider, so my interpretation will be colored by that fact.

    Though, I can't comment directly on the Supreme Court issue, since I did not follow too much of the event when I was there. I was aware crowds where being tear gassed outside the court house, and when I left via Quito the court building was blocked off by the police and military.

  • Ecuador Takes to the Streets, Again

    On Friday, in an act that recalled the classic style of Latin American dictatorships, President Lucio Guriérrez of Ecuador forgot that it was his people who elected him and turned against them. Gutiérrez, faced with massive demonstrations against him, declared a state of emergency. This time, the Ecuadorian people seem to have decided not to accept the authoritarianism of Gutiérrez, a soldier who joined the popular insurrection that overthrew President Jamil Mahuad in 2002. This stage of the conflict has now gone on for two days, and the people are in the streets. The origin of the conflict: Gutiérrez’s dissolving of the Supreme Court, which he had already illegally “reorganized” several months earlier.
  • Fracasa la sesión del Congreso en Ecuador

    Hace unas horas los diputados de los tres partidos más grandes de la oposición (el Partido Social Cristiano, el de Izquierda Democrática y el Movimiento Pachakutik) anunciaron que se retirarían del Congreso para no participar en la sesión extraordinaria legislativa. De esta manera quedó nulificada la autoconvocatoria de los parlamentarios para discutir la disolución de la Suprema Corte de Justicia, el tema que ha puesto de pie a Ecuador contra Lucio Gutiérrez.
  • Ecuador vuelve a las calles

    El viernes pasado, en una acción que recordó el estilo dictarorial en América Latina, el Presidente de Ecuador Lucio Gutiérrez olvidó que fue su pueblo el que lo eligió y se lanzó contra todos. Gutiérrez decretó el estado de emergencia ante las manifestaciones populares en su contra. Esta vez el pueblo ecuatoriano parece decidido a no aceptar el autoritarismo de Gutiérrez, un militar involucrado en la insurrección popular que en enero de 2000 expulsó de su cargo al ex presidente Jamil Mahuad. Esta etapa del conflicto dura ya dos días y la gente está en las calles. Su origen: la disolución de la Corte Suprema de Justicia, que el propio Gutiérrez había ilegalmente “reorganizado” hace unos meses.
  • Palm Growers and Paramilitaries in Uraba

    African palm plantation companies are playing a growing role in helping paramilitaries consolidate their control of the Uraba region of Choco and Antioquia in Colombia.
  • State Dept. Recruiting Counterdrug Aviation Adviser for Peruvian Jungle Post

    The U.S. State Dept. is continuing to step up deployment of personnel and resources to conduct air-based coca- and poppy eradication missions in South America, evident most recently by a recruitment campaign to locate a new Fixed Wing Aviation Advisor at a key command post in the jungle town of Pucallpa, Peru – a facility involved in the April 20, 2001, downing of an airplane that killed U.S. missionary Veronica Bowers and her infant daughter, Charity.
  • US drugs war in Colombia a dismal failure

    by Hugh O'Shaughnessy via informationclearinghouse

    04/13/05 "Irish Times" - - COLOMBIA: The war on drugs being waged by the US administration on Colombian territory with the help of the government of President Alvaro Uribe has suffered a serious reverse.

    According to figures published by the White House Office of Drug Control Policy, a record effort last year to eradicate by aerial spraying the coca bushes - whose leaves provide the raw material for cocaine - fell well short of the drastic reduction the two governments had hoped for.

    The eradication effort involves the use of low-flying aircraft spraying poison. These have to be protected by armed helicopters from attack from the ground: since 2000 the cost is estimated at more than the $3 billion.

    The poisoning of 337,427 acres of land last year produced no dent at all in Colombia's capacity to produce the narcotic...

  • Three Days that Shook the Media: Are We Ready to Do It Again?

    Is authentic journalism ready to again defend democracy, the self-rule by the people and for the people, or will we fail as in Haiti and the United States?  What are our strength's and weaknesses compared to three years ago, in the democracy we are building and the authentic journalists and others willing to defend it, and what are empire's strengths and weaknesses this time in Mexico?  Mostly, what must we do now to overturn the desafuero and build to win victories for people everywhere seeking to construct communities and societies of greater liberty and justice?

    Here's some paragraphs from the end of the three years ago "three days that shook the media," for the purpose of jumpstarting discussion here on the NarcoSphere.

  • The Border, Again

    Last week I was invited to an event featuring authors that contributed to a book called Rio Grande, an anthology compiled by Jan Reid and published by the University of Texas. A piece of Contrabando is contained in the book.

    The panel consisted of Jan, the primary author and editor, Dagoberto Gilb, Ceclila Ballí, Dick Reavis, and Rolando Hinojosa. In the crowd were others of note, among them Bill Wittliff, the screenwriter and producer of Lonesome Dove and many other movies of note (he’s also an award-winning photographer).

  • Latest Mexico Poll: López Obrador Rises: PAN and PRI Plummet

    The last national public opinion poll taken in Mexico before the "desafuero" of Mexico City Governor Andrés Manuel López Obrador was made official on Thursday, showed that López Obrador has gained even more electoral support - and that his likely PRI and PAN party opponents had plummetted from the 20-percentiles into the teens.

    The new poll, taken by Instituto de Mercadotecnia y Opinión (IMO, in its Spanish initials, or the Marketing and Opinon Institute) shows that the man known as "El Peje," López Obrador, is running away with the 2006 presidential race. The survey was taken March 29 and 30. The margin of error is three percent. Here are the results:

    Which of these candidates would you vote for in the 2006 presidential election?

    • Andrés Manuel López Obrador (PRD) 46.4%
    • Santiago Creel (PAN) 16.7%
    • Roberto Madrazo (PRI) 15.1%
    We look forward to the first post-"desafuero" poll.

    We also look forward to the poll after that: the one taken after López Obrador is sent to jail awaiting trial for a "crime" (his administration disobeyed a court order involving a very small tract of land) that his accusers, too, are guilty of, but they control the government, and therefore - of course - they weren't charged.

    Key words: Coup d'etat.

    Story: Drifting out of Power's control.

  • Homeland Security memo reveals terrorism records are being sanitized

    A memo leaked to Narco News by some brave soul within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) offers a revealing insight into the so-called war on terrorism. In short, the memo seems to show that for at least one federal law-enforcement agency, investigating terrorism is not unlike the childhood game of “Duck, Duck, Goose.”

    The memo, issued on March 28 by a high-ranking official with DHS’ Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE), essentially orders supervisors in the field to sanitize terrorism-related case files maintained in a major law-enforcement computer system called TECS. All told, TECS contains about 12,000 terrorism-related “records,” of which about 4,000 have been generated by ICE, according to the memo.

    ICE supervisors, per the memo’s instructions, are to "modify or remove all ICE-generated TECS records designated as ‘terrorist.’”

    In other words, the memo instructs ICE supervisors to ensure that if they come across a goose in the game of find-the-terrorist, then they should call it a duck.

    As a result, based on the memo’s instructions, existing records originated by ICE and deemed to be terror-related are to be purged from the TECS computer system by reclassifying them to make them appear to be unrelated to terrorism. The deadline for completing this 4,000-record sanitizing task is April 11, two weeks from the issue date of the memo.

  • Mexican Congress Votes 360 to 127 to Stop Candidate Obrador

    The debate, which lasted most of the day, is over, at least in the halls of Congress. All but one member of President Vicente Fox's PAN party, and all but twelve of those of Roberto Madrazo's PRI party, obeyed orders, and voted to remove the political rights of Mexico City Governor Andrés Manuel López Obrador, just moments ago.

    The final vote count was 360 votes in favor of the "desafuero," to 127 votes against, with two absentions.

    It means that, for now, López Obrador will be removed from his elected post pending court actions. Unless and until he is absolved of the charge of disobeying an order against a hospital access road (one that he never built, having instead constructed an alternate route), he could be barred from being a presidential candidate in 2006, although he towers over all other candidates in the public opinion polls.

    At a demonstration today in Mexico City, López Obrador called upon his supporters to remain peaceful and to not block streets or highways, or occupy government buildings at present. That he makes such an appeal is an indication of the mood of much of the country, angered by this political assassination. He called for a silent march on April 24 in Mexico City.

    Meanwhile, a country awaits to see what ace, if any, he has up his sleeve, to beat back what effectively was a preemptive coup d'etat against Mexican democracy.

  • López Obrador Before Congress: The Defendant Turns Prosecutor

    The late Charles F. McCarthy used to frequently tell me: “Some men are born great. Some men achieve greatness. And others have greatness thrust upon them.”

    As Mexico City Governor Andrés Manuel López Obrador showed today, sometimes that greatness is thrust upon men and women by adversity and by the ill will of those who oppose them.

    López Obrador arrived this afternoon at the Mexican national Congress and sat quietly on stage through a presentation of accusations against him by one of President Vicente Fox’s assistant attorneys general, Carlos Javier Vega Memije, who repeated, again and again, that the proposal to take away López Obrador’s right to run for president was a matter of “the state of law,” because his city administration supposedly violated a judge’s order for eleven months in 2001 and 2002. The prosecutor spoke loftily about “ending impunity” and building “a Mexico of laws.”

    But when the prosecutor’s allotted 30 minute speaking period ran out, Vega Memije kept prattling on about the importance of not breaking rules. He was shouted down by many legislators from the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD, in its Spanish initials) bench and concluded his remarks by shouting shrilly over the din.

    Next it was López Obrador’s turn. He took the podium and commented to the gathered congressmen, beaming a smile: “You’re going to have to make a desafuero for attorney Vega Memije for violating the rules.”

    Here are some excerpts from his speech...

  • Black Thursday 2005: A Coup d'Etat Begins Today in Mexico

    In the hills outside of Mexico City, the temperature rose above 100 degrees Fahrenheit on Wednesday, heating the political pressure-cooker that, today, Thursday, April 7, may boil over beyond the city limits of the capital and even the national borders.

    The world may learn today that the work of the Mexican revolution is unfinished. Eighty-six years ago this week Mexican revolutionary General Emiliano Zapata was assassinated in a State-plotted ambush, on April 10, 1919. Eleven years ago, also at this springtime of year, leading presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio was assassinated on the campaign trail, in Tijuana: on March 23, 1994. What President Vicente Fox, together with his former adversaries of the once-monolithic PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party, which ruled Mexico for seven decades prior to Fox’s 2000 electoral victory), are attempting today is nothing less than a pre-emptive coup d’etat: a political assassination, dressed up in legal technicalities no more serious than a parking ticket, to remove Mexico’s leading presidential candidate from the 2006 contest.

    At 9:30 a.m. (Central Time Zone) Mexico City Governor Andrés Manuel López Obrador will address a multitude in the Zocalo, the village square of this country of 100 million Mexicans, a crowd that as of 7:30 this morning included at least a million of them...

  • NY Times: Ortega Seen as Threat to US Interests

    The New York Times is reporting that the Bush administration fears that if Daniel Ortega wins next year's presidential election in Nicaragua, the Central American nation might align itself with Venezuela and Cuba to undermine U.S. interests throughout Latin America.
  • Five Years Old, and We Want to Keep Going

    Dear readers, colleagues, brothers and sisters:

    A poet said long ago that April is the cruelest month. Nevertheless, in the midst of the nothingness of the world we must live in, Al Giordano chose this month five years ago to launch The Narco News Bulletin into the four winds... in the midst of cruelty and rage, our dear comandante decided that the time had come to sow something new. And he began to drop seeds loaded with dynamite, with the devoted patience of a Vietnamese guerrilla and the firm tenderness of a Zapatista.  

    And so pages with black petals and letters of red, white, and yellow began to bloom. Giordano, along with just a laptop and his strength, created us all taking flesh and blood from his fingertips. The sharp edge of the petals of each rose that Al collected from this earth, signed by a few brave authentic journalists, began breaking down, little by little, that brick and barbed-wire fence that the big commercial media put up around the badly-named “war on drugs.”

  • Leagacy of Pope John Paul: War Criminal or Simple Hypocrite?

    Having watched the Pbs Special on the Pope - and Knowing (seeing) the atrocities committed by the US financed Death Squads of Central America (during my visits in 1998 and 1989) - I copied the transcript for the show and was searching around the internet when i found this report on indymedia - Wow - It is true...  

     I believe that in order to understand the cirisis of the church and of politics in Latin america that we need to identifiy the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of the church and its Pope (s) ...  !

    Special on Pope John Paul

    [Titled: Pope a War Criminal and Hypocrite for Bush ] ndex.php
    Martyred Archbishop Oscar Romero to Become a Saint - John Paul to Be Tried for War Crimes and Genocide;


  • Gringo Anti-Drug Forces in Colombia Moonlight as Narcos

    U.S. forces have figured out a new way to get all that offensive cocaine out of Colombia: smuggle it out, and, while they’re at it, sell it back in the States.

    According to several reports filed this weekend, five of the hundreds of U.S. troops stationed in the country as part of “Plan Colombia” have been arrested for using a military aircraft to transport the sixteen kilos of cocaine they were caught with to the U.S. via the military base in El Paso, Texas where they landed.

  • FOIA documents in House of Death case now online at Narco News

    DEA supervisor Sandalio Gonzalez fired off a letter in February 2005 to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials in El Paso, Texas, that blew the whistle on an alleged cover-up within the U.S. justice system.

    The letter exposed federal agents’ complicity in multiple murders in the Mexican border town of Ciudad Juárez. The homicides were tied to an investigation into Heriberto Santillan-Tabares, who U.S. prosecutors claim is a top lieutenant in Vicente Carrillo Fuentes’ Juárez drug organization.

    Santillan has been charged with cocaine and marijuana smuggling along with five counts of murder. His case is currently pending in federal district court in San Antonio, Texas, and is slated for trial in May.

  • Mercenaries to Play Greater Role in Future U.S.-Led Drug Interdiction, Crop Eradication Missions

    The U.S. Dept. of Defense (DoD) and the State Dept. are preparing to intensify and expand drug interdiction and aerial crop-eradication efforts in South America, Central America and the Caribbean. Based on a review of recently distributed federal-procurement documents, the U.S. government is actively soliciting the help of mercenaries whose sole function will be to locate and rescue missing or captured Drug War personnel.

    The hiring of private-sector contractors to perform these “personnel recovery” missions for the U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) is coinciding with other initiatives in and around Colombia; for instance, the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) simultaneously is arranging to buy millions of gallons of jet fuel through 2009 to supply Colombian national police and military posts, camps and stations, the documents show.

  • When Consultants Attack: New Film on Carville and Greenberg in Bolivia

    There's a new film on the festival circuit "Our Brand is Crisis". When I saw it I was a bit suprised I hadn't read it here first:

    From Film Threat:

    Unlike Carville's first silver screen go-around, in the superior cult classic documentary "The War Room," however, this is not a race for the White House, but for the presidency of that Latin American basket case of a country, Bolivia. In this race, former Bolivian President Sanchez de Lozada, known locally as "Goni," has hired GCS to help him regain his former position of power.

    I was hoping someone in the NarcoSphere might have a chance to see it somewhere and post a review.

  • Washington Post in media offensive on Venezuela; twisting facts and lying

    I found this elsewhere and figured it might be of interest to those that participate here.

    VHeadline commentarist Carlos Herrera writes: Since the beginning of 2005 the main US dailies such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post have continued their media onslaught against Venezuela and the government of Hugo Chavez...

  • Catching a Sneaky Fox in A Pipeline Scandal: Oil and the Power of Arizona Big Shots

    Arizona has approved the construction of an oil refinery based on Mexican oil and a pipeline from Guaymas. The 3 to 4 billion dollar project is bad for Mexico. Jobs and income will be lost and a dangerous dependency on the US will increase.
  • Jovens jornalistas por uma cobertura alternativa aos meios comerciais

    “Quero dizer que o jornalismo está em crise. Vemos guerras terríveis no mundo agora, e por quê? Porque os meios de comunicação e jornalistas do meu país nativo, os Estados Unidos, têm mentido ao povo”. Com estas palavras, o jornalista Alberto Giordano anunciou à imprensa cochabambina o início da segunda Escola de Jornalismo Autêntico, organizada pelo site, de 30 de julho à 8 de agosto de 2004.

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