All Notebook Entries

  • John Paul II, Bendict XVI, and Charlie Edward I

    Karol Wojtyla was elected pope on October 16, 1978. Less than a year later Pope John Paul II was in Des Moines, Iowa. I traveled a thousand miles to see him. I was excited.

    In August 1993 he was in Denver, Colorado. I traveled a little more than one hundred miles to see him. I could have cared less.

    In February 1996 he came to Caracas, Venezuela. He was just a few miles from where I was living. I stayed home.

  • A Cowboy's Observations on Drugs

    Before I wrote Contrabando I wrote a book called A Cowboy's Observations on Drugs. I say a book. In reality it is two essays, one on my personal battle with addiction, and the second on the laws concerning drugs and proposed changes.

    I had it published through a print on demand publisher with less than satisfactory results.

  • Will Colombia Be the Proxy in a US Attack on Venezuela?

    The U.S. is gearing up its rhetoric against Venezuela again as Condaleeza Rice barnstorms through Latin America -- and there are subtle indications that the U.S. may be ready to increase Colombia's role in undermining the government of Hugo Chavez.
  • Massacre in Toribio -- Inconvenient Truths

    Both the left and the right in the U.S. have been conspiculously silent about the recent massacre carried out by the FARC in the town of Toribio in northern Colombia, a community that has been a cradle of indigenous resistance against Uribe, the multinationals, and Plan Colombia and Plan Patriota.  The right sees the people of Toribio as unworthy victims because of their organizing for justice.  And the left finds it inconvenient to admit that the FARC is capable of attrocities and no longer represents the interests of Colombia's poor.
  • State Department claims the zombies are back again!

    Most of us have watched at least one of those B-rated zombie movies, like “Night of the Living Dead.”

    So we all know that no matter how many zombies are put out of their misery, there are always more of them in the shadows coming up out of the ground.

    Well, it seems U.S. State Department officials have lifted their Mexico travel-warning script right out those zombie-movie plots.

    On Tuesday, only a few days after a giant march in Mexico City in support of popular presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador -- who is not a favorite son of the Bush administration -- the U.S. State Department reissued a travel warning for the Mexico border region. The warning cites the continuing threat of violence against U.S. citizens due to violent narco-traffickers.

  • Mexico : AMLO Watch part II

    What is going on in Mexico is the trial rhetoric of a new vision, a "socialist" perspective to govern from the point of view of the people. It's anti-neoliberal, so watch out. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was challenged and so far, has survived - both literally and politically.

    This account is from Oaxaca.

  • NYT on Venezuela's end of military cooperation.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/26/international/am ericas/26venezuela.html

    It is official.  As the campaign to influence Latin America in attempt to isolate Venezuela fails, the US government has acknowledged its financial support of Venezuela's opposition groups and plans to continue the destabilization in the runup to the 2006 election.

    The gathering storm for the forth battle of the Bolivarian Revolution is noticeable.  The coup, the lockout, and the referendum have failed, but the U.S. continues with its anti-democratic agenda.  

  • Is U.S. Marshal guilty of murder or of being black?

    Arthur Lloyd, 53, is driving his SUV down a wide boulevard, Rockville Pike, in Montgomery County, which is in Maryland near Washington, DC. His entire family – wife and five children – are packed in the vehicle with him. They are heading to Mid-Pike Plaza in Rockville to buy a toy for one of his daughters.

    It is only days before Halloween, and the roadway is packed with afternoon rush-hour traffic. Somewhere in the course of his trip to the shopping center, Lloyd did something to annoy Ryan Stowers, a 20-year-old who had only recently enlisted in the Navy. Stowers, who is from Redding, Calif., is driving a Chevy Camaro.

    Maybe Lloyd cut in front of Stowers when he was switching lanes, maybe Lloyd came up to close to Stowers' bumper at some point, or maybe Stowers mistakenly blamed Lloyd for something another driver did. Whatever set Stowers off that day is not clear, but what he did next set in motion a chain of events that ultimately cost him his life.

  • Análisis de un lector ecuatoriano

    Porque Fabián Avila ha consentido en ello, y porque sus aclaraciones y su perspectiva sobre lo ocurrido (y lo que ocurre) en Ecuador nos parecen de suma importancia para nuestros lectores, les presentamos aquí el texto de su carta de hoy a The Narco News Bulletin:
  • Another comment on Mexico

    Mexico is waiting to see what will happen in the desafuero struggle. A report from Oaxaca - it seems muy tranquilo, but is it?

    The desafuero of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador seems suspended in space like a cloud over the country. Fox offered a rather pitiful bone, saying maybe he could “pardon” AMLO. I bet he’s scared shitless, at the dual possibility of massive protests and withdrawal of foreign investment monies. At the end of the month the Mexican AG will rule on what’s to be done- the most gracious out at this moment being that the court disallows the desafuero.

  • 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...

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