Why Is TeleSur a Flop? Look No Farther than Its Libya Coverage

By Al Giordano

As a student of rebellion and resistance, when people rise up I pay attention, study and try to learn as much as possible. Humans are at our most creative when we rebel and the moments when many do it all at once are the great engines of innovation, invention and evolution. Any man, woman or child of any age who participates in a grand and successful revolt is forever changed and liberated by the experience. He and she are no longer so easily enslaved or cowered by fear. Rebellions against injustice and tyranny are the single best catalyst through which people become our better selves and fulfill our most human of destinies.

For eighteen days in January and February 2011 the Egyptian people, especially its youths, treated the world to a lesson in civics. Their successful toppling of the thirty year dictator Hosni Mubarak was the very best kind of rebellion because it was disciplined, it was strategically and tactically executed, and the population understood that the justice and freedom it craved would not be found in bloody retribution against the sectors (most demonstrably in Egypt, the Armed Forces) that had propped up the regime, but in peeling those sectors’ support away from it.

A lot has been written and said during and since Mubarak’s fall about how the Egyptians did it, but having lived through other moments like it in other parts of the world I find most of the explanations unsatisfactory. I constantly return to a question raised by the Situationist Raoul Vaneigem:

"By a strange oversight, no historian has ever taken the trouble to study how people actually lived during the most extreme revolutionary moments."

The media, including that part which has been sympathetic and in solidarity with the Egyptian revolt, has proved so far completely incapable at the task of coldly and rationally documenting what exactly the young organizers, authentic journalists, bloggers and other change agents in Egypt did, under extremely difficult conditions, to end a thirty-year dictatorship in eighteen days. That’s where the story remains, largely unreported. And yet most of the protagonists are still alive and able to tell it; time has not yet buried this human-made miracle under ancient ruins for the archeologists to uncover and play guessing games.

And so I begin this essay with an announcement: Narco News and our School of Authentic Journalism will send a team of journalists to Egypt in the coming weeks to find and report that living history. With documentary filmmaker Greg Berger and others, and the wise guidance and counsel of Egyptian authentic journalist Noha Atef, among others who have kept us very well informed throught these historic weeks, we will go to the homes of the organizers and those who broke the regime’s media blockade and record their story in their own words. As authentic journalists do, we will do our best to strip ourselves of any preconceptions, Western and other, about what happened, and instead let those who made it happen explain it to us, and through these pages, to you.

Instead of asking the questions that every media organization is asking them, we will ask the questions that community organizers, students of civil resistance, strategists, tacticians and aspiring revolutionaries everywhere want to know: How did you do it? And how can we do it in our own lands, too?

It was that same thirst to know and understand how successful movements and their change agents make history that led me, fourteen years ago, to the rebel indigenous lands of Chiapas, Mexico, which led to a much longer period of study, and forced me to learn new languages and ways of doing things that, until I saw and experienced them, were alien to my New Yorker upbringing. That same admiration for grassroots movements, in April 2002, led us to be the first English-language publication (and, in fact, one of the first in Spanish) to report that international media claims that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez had “resigned” were false, that instead a military coup d’etat was underway and he had been kidnapped. And we reported the popular movement that overturned that coup in three days and, as best we could from a distance, how it happened. Weeks later I was in Caracas, talking with the people in the neighborhoods, and especially the pioneers of its community radio and television and alternative media who broke the information blockade and mobilized the public that April, and also spent a total of twelve hours in the company of President Chávez, who I consider a very smart man, listening carefully to his analysis of what had happened.

That same need to understand how change is made has brought me, over the years, to the coca growing lands of Bolivia, the gigantic cities of Brazil, and, in the summer of 2009, to most states in the country of Honduras which was suffering – and continues to be plagued by the consequences of – a bloody coup d’etat. We have reported on the social movements from all 31 Mexican states and its capital. We have reported on successful movements and also those that have not yet succeeded, and have seen the details of what strategies and tactics more often bring victory, and which more often keep peoples mired in defeat. When other media, including “alternative media,” have pointed their cameras and microphones up above, at the heads of state and the machinations of those in power during periods of popular revolt and change, Narco News has instead gone to the streets and country roads where the people struggle from below, and provided their voices and wisdom a larger audience than they otherwise would have had for their grievances, dreams and the lessons of their unique experience.

For the past fourteen years, events in Latin America have dominated my interest, ignited my passions, and those two motives have always guided my journalism. For much of 2008, when a community organizing renaissance began anew in the United States (a process still underway, as we watch events unfold in Madison, Wisconsin), with the help of our readers, I went to study and report it: In Nevada, in Texas, in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, and offered my findings to gatherings of community organizers at universities in the aforementioned Madison and in Chicago, as well as via these pages.

Now comes Northern Africa where the hands of thousands write new chapters in the history of human resistance against imposition and dictatorship. The people of Egypt, I suspect, have changed everything in the global equation and in one fell swoop have sent the nation-states and their leaders scrambling to understand how the old geopolitical map, still so soiled by the Cold War hangover, is useless to them now. It was the revolt by Tunisians and toppling of their authoritarian ruler Zine El Abidine Ben Ali that ricocheted into the hearts and minds of Egyptians, who have now inspired civil resistances in Yemen, Algeria, and elsewhere, most grippingly at this moment in Libya.

Events in Libya today are the straw that is breaking the old geopolitical camel’s back, and just as Egypt is placing new realities on the imperial capital of Washington DC, Libya presents a wake up call for the rival capitals whose leaders place themselves in resistance to US imposed hegemony.

The name of Muammar al-Gaddafi is spelled many ways around the world (Khadafi, Qaddafi, etcetera) but today – at this moment when so many of its more than six million citizens are in open revolt against his rule - it is spelled D-E-S-P-O-T. And that brings a lot of sadness as he culminates his betrayal of all the original hope and promise of the Green Revolution he led in 1969, which the author Hakim Bey once described as fusing philosophical underpinnings of “anarco-syndicalism” with “Sufi mysticism” and held out the possibility of an authentically “radical Islam.”

But let’s face reality: Gaddafi’s Green Revolution mutated into something far more sinister, and what is left is anything but revolutionary.

As Vishay Prashad wrote yesterday in Counterpunch:

"Little of the luster of 1969 remains with the old man. He is a caricature of the aged revolutionary. We are far from the 'revolutionary instigator' whose watchword was 'the masses take command of their destiny and their wealth.' The game will be up when the military tilts its support..."

Yesterday, I watched Gaddafi’s seventy-minute long televised speech, a rambling, manic rant that no observer could reasonably interpret as anything other than the self-destruction of a once great young man, now a senile, vicious and mentally unstable old fool.

Amy Davidson, senior editor of The New Yorker, watched it, too. Gaddafi’s speech was as mortifying and Looney Tunes as she, too, observed:

To watch the speech Muammar Qaddafi gave today is to feel very frightened for Libya. It is not simply that he talked about killing and love in one breath—“purifying their tribes” by executing protesters being something that “those who love Muammar Qaddafi” should do—or that he swore never to leave a post he denied having; denied that he had ordered any shootings after days of automatic gunfire (but said, “When I do, everything will burn”); called protesters drug-taking “rats” who Libyans should “attack in their lairs” (elsewhere, he called them “cats”); took out his “Green Book” and made a show of reading it, like a cross between Ophelia and Captain Queeg, as he mused about betrayal and glory, martyrdom and “masters in Washington and London,” his grandfather and Libya’s grand reputation; or that, when he finished speaking, he extended his hand to a supporter for a kiss. It was all of those things, adding up to the suspicion that a great many lives are in the hands of a man who may be not only megalomaniacal and deluded but actually deranged.

If you have been monitoring the international media for hard facts (and proof of them) about what is actually happening in Libya, you have probably spent many hours, as we have, tuned in to the Pan-Arabic TV news network Al Jazeera, which has also been so important recently as a source on news from Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen and throughout Arab lands. There, incontrovertible proof, images and eyewitness testimony have documented the scale of the atrocity that Gaddafi is committing against his country’s own citizens: the deployment of military soldiers and paramilitary mercenaries with orders to shoot at protesters, the burning alive of soldiers who refused to do so, the use of military jets to strafe the crowds under a rain of bullet fire (as Juan Cole points out, this is eerily reminiscent of Mussolini’s 1930s aerial bombardments of Libya to impose a “Roman Peace” upon its people).

And so it is especially disheartening to see and hear some of the heroic and historic leaders of revolutionary Latin America praise Gaddafi (Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega went so far as to claim that Gaddafi “is again waging a great battle”) at this moment when Libyan dictator behaves like Fulgencio Batista, Anastasio Somoza, Augusto Pinochet, Hugo Banzer, Carlos Andres Perez and every other despicable war criminal and dictator the Western Hemisphere has suffered and which Boliviarian América rose up to topple.

While it is true that in better days Gaddafi aided and supported revolutionary movements in Latin America, these are movements which have not hesitated to dispose of their own traitors from within and so it is sadly astounding to witness the acrobatics with which some leaders (and their State owned media, I will get to that in a moment) are evidently obfuscating and clumsily attempting to defend, or at least provide a smokescreen of cover for, Gaddafi’s indefensible actions at present.

More wily and clever than Ortega’s bombastic show of solidarity with Gaddafi – and thus, more disappointing, because he should know better – was Fidel Castro’s column yesterday, in which he argued:

“One can be in agreement with Gaddafi or not. The world has been invaded with all kind of news, especially through the mass media. We shall have to wait the time needed to discover precisely how much is truth or lies, or a mix of the events, of all kinds, which, in the midst of chaos, have been taking place in Libya.”

Of course, to the extent that it has been difficult to get the true facts out of Libya is almost entirely a consequence of Gaddafi’s own actions: he has shut down the Internet, cell phones and land lines, banned foreign journalists, and done everything a tyrant can do to prevent the sifting of Castro’s “truth or lies.” And yet Gaddafi’s own words are clear as day: A call for his supporters to go house by house and kill any citizen who dissents, “attack their lairs,” he said... the crazed exaltation of “purifying the tribes” and the promise that “everything will burn.” That his words have been made real by bloody actions on a massive scale has been meticulously documented on Al Jazeera, on YouTube and in testimony from Libyans who escaped across the border as well as that of military and diplomatic officials who have defected. Castro’s call to “wait and see” at an hour of moral crisis is a call for consent and complicity with genocide.

Somewhat less skillful, on Castro’s part, has been his ham-handed attempt to shift the attention from the atrocity underway to a hypothetical one: His statement that, “the United States is totally unconcerned about peace in Libya and will not hesitate to give NATO the order to invade that rich country, possibly in a matter of hours or a few days.”

First of all, what could NATO possibly do to the Libyan people that Gaddafi isn’t already doing?

Second of all, the rapid rate at which Gaddafi’s own military officers, diplomats, even his Interior Minister, have defected and sided with the protesters, as well as the total control the resistance has assumed of the nation’s second most important city of Benghazi, the defection of tribal leaders who control many of the oil producing lands of the south, all these events indicate that it is not NATO or foreign powers that will most quickly dispose of the despot, but the very people he has governed for 42 years.

The popular rejection of Gaddafi this week has not been led by the imperialist West (which, since 2001, has worked in harmony with Gaddafi after he joined harmoniously with George W. Bush’s “war on terror”), but, rather, by Libyans. And the Libyan people have now been joined by all of Pan-Arabia. Yesterday, the League of Arab Nations (Kuwait, Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Jordan, UAE, Lebanon, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Syria, Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, Dijibouti, Algeria, Sudan, Iraq, Yemen, Mauritania, Comoros & Somalia) kicked Gaddafi’s representative out of their meetings and suspended Libya from the organization, calling on him to cease the violent repression of demonstrators. And while it is true that many of these states are essentially US allies and clients, it is more the rumbling in their own streets by the regional Pan-Arabic movement toward freedom that has them sweating and so eager to divorce themselves from Gaddafi’s crimes. The proverbial “Arab Street,” suddenly awake and on the move, is speaking through them. And their distancing from Libya’s go-down-in-flames response to rebellion portends well for movements in Bahrain, Yemen, Algeria and elsewhere that are following Tunisian and Egyptian footsteps today because it indicates that other heads of state and dictators are learning that absolute repression of the kind attempted by Mubarak in Egypt, and even more severely by Gaddafi in Libya, isn’t going to save their asses or their regimes. Notably, some are now bending over backwards to make concessions to pro-democracy movements in their lands, and a great regional awakening marches on.

Perhaps reading these words, kind reader, you have found some of the information new or useful. Much of it has also been reported by Al Jazeera from an Arab perspective. And, as in Egypt just days ago (yes, it seems like an eternity already), the Gaddafi regime is blaming the messengers:

At a news conference in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, on Tuesday, a government spokesman said: "We used to respect our brothers in Qatar, but the brothers in Qatar directed Al Jazeera to incitement and to spread lies. They directed hired Libyan and Egyptian sheiks that have Qatari citizenship and high monthly salaries to start this conspiracy."

This is exactly how the Honduran coup regime and that of Iranian president Mamoud Ahmedinejad responded to civil resistances in their countries in 2009: blame the media. The Honduran coup rulers shut down the Internet, deported reporters from TeleSur, and to this day it remains the most dangerous country in the world for journalists, assassinating them at a faster pace than in tyrannies twenty times its size. The Iranian regime did the same: shut off the Internet and deported reporters from BBC Persia.

Which brings us to the sticky matter of TeleSur, the six-year-old TV network based in Venezuela, funded largely by that government and, to a lesser extent, by those of Argentina, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Uruguay. On its first day of broadcasting, I wrote an essay, Welcome TeleSur to the Struggle to Light Up the Skies. There had been so much distortion by the Commercial Media, internationally and in Latin America, of events down here that I and many others eagerly grasped on to TeleSur and held out the hand of friendship and alliance.

Six years later, TeleSur is widely considered among much of the Latin American left to be a colossal flop and a predictable formulaic bore, a project so steeped in its own bureaucracy and conflicting loyalties that it is an understatement to say it “has not lived up to its potential.” In the past year, it has participated in the demonization of the historic indigenous movements in Latin America, absurdly attempting to tag the continent’s original peoples as imperialist agents of the United States, largely based on the McCarthyist falsehoods of one of its commentators, the North American lawyer Eva Golinger. If you have not read about what occurred last October to cause a massive grassroots backlash from so much of the Latin American left against TeleSur’s shoddy “journalism,” this story, by Narco News reporters Fernando Leon and Erin Rosa, is illuminating, to say the least.

But it is the Pan-Arabian resistance that has shaken the wheels off of TeleSur altogether. While citizen journalists in Libya courageously break the information blockade to post videos on YouTube and elsewhere to show the carnage wrought by the death throes of the Gaddafi regime, while Al Jazeera and other international media document beyond a reasonable doubt the war crimes it is committing, TeleSur has treated its viewers to a total cover-up and whitewashed version of events in Libya. It has served as a clownish propaganda vehicle for the embattled Libyan dictator.

The version of events fed to TeleSur viewers portrays Gaddafi pronouncing “I am a revolutionary,” and repeats his claims that “extremist groups are paying the demonstrators” against him without a shred of irony or proof. It portrays the dictator as defending the country of Libya from “the insults that have been made agains the Libyan people in recent days.” The subheds alone demonstrate TeleSur’s spin: “Youths receive money from extremist groups,” and, “I will fight to the last drop of my blood” and “Following the Constitution,” and “Solid Libya.”

Of course, TeleSur gave top billing to Castro’s claim of a “plan by the US for NATO to invade Libya.” Libyan demonstrators are portrayed as pillaging and burning everything in sight (“furious hordes,” a general is quoted as describing them) and that “there are no police, nor Army, nor security forces” to be found.

Not a word about the multiple massacres by Gaddafi’s troops, who according to TeleSur, contrary to repressing the people, are not even present, nor the aerial attacks by military planes on the crowds. TeleSur has reported nothing about the defections by military, diplomatic and tribal pillars of support for the regime. In sum, TeleSur is feeding a total falsehood to its viewers and calling it “news.”

Meanwhile, the self proclaimed gringa “novia de Venezuela” (that’s from her own website masthead, you can’t make this stuff up!), Eva Golinger, who accompanied Chávez to Libya, Iran, Russia and Belarus last November, complained yesterday on her Twitter feed: “Look, I’ve never defended Gaddafi! To the contrary, I am analyzing the causes of the terrible situation that is happening in Libya. I don’t know why they say that.”

Golly gee, ya think maybe the recent NY Times profile on Golinger (in which she vainly granted an interview to the known golpista reporter Simon Romero only to act surprised later on when it wasn’t as flattering as she had hoped: “The article makes me sound like some kind of propaganda queen for the Venezuelan government,” she doth protested too much) might have something to do with that impression? Here is an interesting passage from the puff-piece-gone-awry:

In October, she accompanied Mr. Chávez on a seven-country tour that included visits with Venezuelan allies like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of Iran. “Chávez presented me as his defender to Ahmadinejad,” said Ms. Golinger, describing the Iranian leader as “gentle” after giving him her book at a dinner.

She came away from the trip with her own appreciation of other Venezuelan allies like President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko of Belarus, who is often called Europe’s last dictator.

After meeting Mr. Lukashenko in person, she described him as “really nice.” As for Belarus itself, she said its Western critics were mistaken because it is “not a dictatorship.” Rather, she said, “It is socialism.” She praised a Belarussian agricultural town she visited. “People seemed really into their communal work and stuff like that,” she said.

To be fair, Golinger wasn’t quoted as saying anything, pro or con, about her State sponsored visit to Gaddafi’s Libya. She did call the Iranian dictator “gentle” and the Belarusian despot “really nice,” without offering a shred of criticism of the tyrannical behavior of the regimes of any of the countries she visited. A journalist-of-the-state simply does not do that if one wants to be invited on future junkets.

And that’s the point. At an hour of moral crisis it is not enough to issue smug denials that one has never defended an evil if one is not also vocally denouncing and resisting it while it is happening.

Interestingly, Venezuelan President Chávez – who recently made news sleeping in a tent that Gaddafi had gifted to him on the recent trip to Libya – has remained absolutely silent on the matter since the Libyan resistance rose up in recent days.

But I know something about how big news organizations function in their dysfunction, and TeleSur is very similar to CNN or Fox News or any other cable news network in its operating principles. I’ve had first hand dealings with various TeleSur employees and freelancers and, like their counterparts in commercial media, they live in constant, abject fear of getting “the call from Caracas” (their words) or angering their superiors. TeleSur is a viper’s nest for anyone employed there, filled with bullying middle managers and cut throat colleagues who covet each other’s jobs, with an often absent upper level management (right now TeleSur chief Andrés Izarra is virtually AWOL as he serves the dual function of Venezuela’s cabinet level Minister of Information and Communications). Many frustrated journalists throughout the hemisphere come to us for counsel when they have problems with their bureaucracies, and we’ve heard enough stories from TeleSur journalists to recognize their plight as so similar to those of corporate media employees.

So it’s not really clear if TeleSur is behaving this week as chief American propagandist for Gaddafi because a line has been handed down, or because in a dysfunctional absence of any line its panicked employees are overcompensating based on what they see as Venezuela’s geopolitical alliances. The news organization also suffers an increasing tendency that corrupts all the beautiful and good accomplishments of the Bolivarian revolution by attempting to make the news overly about one head of state and his allied heads of state rather than about an organized people. But I sense that fear plays a huge role in how previously good journalists have turned themselves into propaganda monkeys for war crimes in Libya today.

What is strangest about TeleSur’s astonishing fictionalization of the Libyan crisis is that the news organization has an existing agreement with Al Jazeera in which each network may use the video footage of the other. But none of the strongest images or reports by Al Jazeera from Libya have made it past the cutting room floor in Caracas this week.

TeleSur has thus converted into a worst-case scenario that plays into the cartoon caricature version of the Bolivarian revolution painted by its worst enemies and the bloody coup mongers of the imperial right. The damage they are doing to the cause of the Venezuelan people, a majority of whom built the Bolivarian revolution, is immeasurable. It features circus clowns like Golinger spewing half-baked conspiracy theories (her latest: that “it’s sad but reality, that what happened in Egypt was prepared in USA laboratories”). Did you catch that? Now she is defaming the Egyptian resistance and its participants who toppled a thirty-year US-propped regime as, somehow, agents of US imperialism! It’s the same exact script she used against the indigenous of Ecuador when they opposed multinational oil and mining companies imposed on them by that country’s government.

Well, this is why authentic journalists have to go to the source – in Egypt or Honduras or anywhere else where competing media try to impose their spin on events from afar – to interview the people on the ground who make history, instead of those who merely wash, spin and dry it. I look forward to reporting to you what the heroic Egyptian resistance organizers have to say about this attempt to portray them as dupes of a foreign power. But mostly, I look forward to learning the real history of the resistance that now gives birth to many resistances.

The Cold War ended twenty years ago but its vestiges have guided too many of right and left alike in a hackneyed obsession with a supposed geopolitical map. Rebellions against their enemies are portrayed as good but rebellions against their allies are defamed as the manipulations of foreign powers.

I personally have never viewed being of the left as adhering to such a geopolitical map, in which the atrocities by autocrats – be they named Gaddafi or Ahmedinejad or Mugabe or Lukashenko or Putin – are considered “gentle” or “nice” or acceptable in any way simply because they position themselves (often as mere acts of theater) as opposed to US imperialism. Likewise, I reject the vision of those on the right, who apologize and cover up for any crime against humanity if it is seen as serving US or Western interests, and in truth most of my reporting for 14 years abroad has aimed my pen and keypad directly at those US-sponsored hypocrisies and injustices, and I imagine that I will continue to do so for the rest of my years. Being on the left, to me, means that one favors freedom, justice (economic and political), human rights, authentic democracy, and full powers of assembly and speech for all, in every land, at every moment. Rebellion and resistance against all tyranny, no matter what flag it raises, is the single greatest expression of what makes us human. It is the engine of evolution of our species. And when it is done strategically, nonviolently, with discipline and creativity, it makes the greatest works of art this world has ever seen.

Here and now, on the eve of the springtime of 2011, what is, in a way, similar to the Prague Spring moment of 1968, which revealed the Czechoslovakian’s people’s yearning to be free and exposed the worst authoritarian and imperial tendencies of the former Soviet Union, we are witnesses (and hopefully participants) of this masterpiece of humanity which I will call The Civil Resistance Renaissance.

Our work, as authentic journalists, in documenting and telling its story – and training others of talent and conscience who seek to do the same - has only just begun.

Update 3:14 p.m. Friday, February 25: A little more than a day after we published this story, TeleSur has published its first honest story in a week from Libya, from the resistance-controlled city of Benghazi:

"Here, the people fill the streets celebrating freedom from the government of Gaddafi. What can be seen in the streets is a new country, a country that doesn't recognize the government, where the people themselves have organized committees, are cleaning the streets, the food is gratis, the people distribute the food, they send free medical attention, and have increased their military control. On all sides are people with guns, but peace reins...

"It should be remembered that this is a country where previously very few foreign journalists entered and their uprising was done without those journalsits present, with very little communication, and the faced a ferocious repression. They have shown us terrible photos and images that we would never be able to show on television of bullet ridden bodies. The people here say that hundreds of people died last Saturday and Sunday, but they resisted, they continue fighting and at this moment they are in control of the city."

It may also be of interest to our readers that the reporter, Reed Lindsay, is a 2003 graduate of the Narco News School of Authentic Journalism, and we have received information from other TeleSur journalists that there is a strong debate within that news organization at present over its coverage of Libya, perhaps unprecedented in the network's six years in that journalists within the channel - the workers of the station - have strongly objected to the simulation and dishonesty that plagued TeleSur's Libya coverage up until now. As with the larger Bolivarian revolution, there are many, many people of conscience who see human rights and resistance as higher priorities than geopolitical alliances, so things have taken an interesting turn, to say the least. Let's hope to see more of it.

Update #2, 6:24 p.m. Friday, February 25: The saga thickens, and this is probably going to have some impact on the network's headquarters in Caracas. While the TeleSur team in rebel-held Benghazi reported that it can do its work freely among friendly crowds, the network's crew in the regime-held capital of Tripoli, TeleSur has just reported, was arrested twice today by regime forces, a crew member was beaten, a camera was seized, and during one of the arrests they were dragged out of a vehicle with Venezuelan embassy diplomatic plates. Developing...


Interesting article

This was a very interesting article. I think it's very important to emphasize (as you did here) the difference between social movements and governments in Latin America.

Anyhow, thanks for the great read, and I'm looking forward to whatever reportage comes out of Egypt from the NarcoNews team that gets sent there.

Great piece!!!

Al, you have outdone yourself with this meaty piece.

The apoplexy we are seeing on all ideological fronts from people (some once-upon-a-time heroes) who have refused to evolve with a rapidly changing global landscape, is quite telling and downright sad. That the geopolitical divides of the Cold War still strangle these old coots and their minions is not surprising, but still a pathetic sight to behold.

In SubSaharan Africa, we have largely shifted many of those presidents-for-life out of the stage, but a few intransigents remain, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Mugabe of Zimbabwe are two sore thumbs that stick out from that old thinking. The former just claimed to have won re-election after 28 years in power. How long does this narcissism have to go on?!!! Mugabe came in a hero in 1980 and now he has become a virulent cancer in the flesh of his own people.

Just like your account of Telesur many of these dictators' state controlled media houses are twisting themselves into pretzels to explain away the inexplicable where atrocities by erstwhile allies is shoved under the rug. Museveni is doing thesame about Gaddafi because of the latter's outsized influence in the African Union (AU). Meanwhile mercenaries from Chad and Bashir's Northern Sudan went to aid Gaddafi's goons to gun down his own people, and in the process stirring up xenophobic sentiments among the Libyan protesters towards SugSaharan Africans. To what end, this megalomania!!!

You are right, Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya have re-written the book on global human rights activism and in one fell swoop condemned Cold War thinking to the trashheap of history where it has long belonged. Bow, if only our American neo-cons, leftists intransigents and other ideological dinosaurs would get up to speed with the times. Sigh...

Thanks Al, for so much food for thought.

solid analysis

Al nails it once again. Good work.

The "great regional awakening"

A dear Iranian friend of mine, who suffered great persecution in this country (to such an extent that he tried to pass as Italian, Francesco) even though he had to flee persecution in his country — with family members conscripted and lost to the great death that was the Iran/Iraq war — passed away some five years ago before seeing a glimpse of the great awakening in the Middle East that Al writes so eloquently about in the piece above.

Unfailingly, every time we would meet, Francesco would use the same greeting, which comes back to me now, amplified millions of times by what I see unfolding in the cradle of civilization:

“It’s good to hear your voice.”

Assange in América

While I defer to the knowledge of working periodistas autentist@s, I'm inclined to concur with Assange's reported editorial judgement, which seems to be in synch with what Al has forthrightly stated above:

A report published by Colombia's Caracol Radio alleges that Wikileaks founder and director, Julian Assange handed or sold 16,000 secret US Embassy cables to Bogota broadsheet, El Espectador director, Fidel Cano. Apparently, one of the conditions in the sale contract was not to enter into any alliance with media sources in Venezuela. The Caracol report indicated that Assange had no confidence in the Venezuelan media.


And here is the link to Espectador's WikiColombia.

Keeping the trith the truth

It is wondrous to watch the socalled press attempt to hijack the truth and cover it with oil. The victory came from the people. While the corprate media plays capture the flag, diluting the victory and awarding it to the usual suspects rather than the people who won. Al, you are correct in saying how victory changes one's entire life,accept no substitue.

Excellent article

This is an excellent analysis and expose of the new Geopolitics, thank you Al. I've spent the last 5 years working with the people (il nas) of the Middle East (Ish Sharq il Awsat), I hope Berger and the crew find the people there as welcoming and hospitable as I have. We are certainly witnessing massive social change on a scale no outside analysts could have predicted. Chavez himself occupies a peculiar position in the Middle East, a number of my contacts have repeated the joke, "who's the greatest Arab Leader?", "Chavez!", and his portrait, draped in a black-and-white kafiyye can be seen in numerous shops in Jaffa's Old City. Certainly Chavez has made a number of important political moves in regards to the Israel/Palestine conflict, notably removing his consular contacts from Israel during the massacre of Gazans known as Cast Lead, and Castro himself was quick to condemn Israel for its war crimes, something the US still refuses to do. That said, Chavez also likes to align himself with the big players in the oil game, we saw this 6 years ago with Uribe, and we see it now with Mubarak and now Gaddafi. It's truly a shame to see when solidarity gets lost in translation, and Mubarak was masterful at manipulating public opinion, claiming his enemies were Israeli agents when he himself supported the Israeli cause by maintaining the inexcusable siege on the Gazan people. These are exciting times, and I commend narconews for joining the fray. As they say in the region, Ahlan wa Sahlen, or اهلا و ساهلا!

Thanks Al! My wife has

Thanks Al!

My wife has family ties to Ortega and, despite being generally supportive of him over the years, we were appalled and deeply disappointed by his voice of support for Gaddafi. When I saw his comments reported on Al Jazeera English, I actually thought I had misunderstood, but sadly no.

I used to look at our aging revolutionaries and reflect on the sad passing of an era, but recent events have shown that it is also undeniably a time of opportunity and a time for renewed hope. May we be up to meeting that challenge.

Donkey no more, no more, no more...!

There used to be one overwhelming force behind a successful and long lasting upheaval of social alienation. Reality required the presence of one essential element in igniting and fueling socio-economic revolutions. Anti-Americanism had to be exacerbated to the extreme, and refined, and commoditized so as to fuel cheaply and reliably each and every revolutionary instinct burning for justice.

But to make a revolution sustainable, justice had to be tailored to fit revenge and paybacks. You had to put an easily recognizable face on it, a donkey-like figurehead at whom you could throw dart while drinking a beer, a tequila, a turkish coffee or smoking a cuban cigar.

America had to perceived, in vivo, as a monolith. I should know. But it ain't. I do know.

And so many a successful revolution bred negativistic socialism where the only constant turned out to be, by design, anti-Americanism. They remain to this day People's revolutions, but in the formalism of a dart throwing contest.

Castro, Chavez, Ortega do more naturally burn their revolutionary midnight oil with authoritarian sectarian pundits. The latter practice their 'dart' form on live donkeys, you just have to get used to the screeching and daunting sound of midnight death by multiple idealism punctures; pure formalism by the sounds of it...!

Always Grateful

Thanks for this information. As soon as the Egyptian story began, I thought of Noha. Wonderful news that our reporters will be there. Authentic Journalists, on the ground. Another round of $$ for the Fund. Our small donations really do make a difference.

Here's the $$ quote from Al:

Instead of asking the questions that every media organization is asking them, we will ask the questions that community organizers, students of civil resistance, strategists, tacticians and aspiring revolutionaries everywhere want to know: How did you do it? And how can we do it in our own lands, too?

My recent post concerning OfA and WI Union protests focuses me for the 2012 reality that is upon US.

For shame

First of all, regarding Belarus and Lukashenko, if you had done your homework at all and read anything other than those parotting a made-by-the-IRI line, you would know, for instance, that in the election before the previous one in Belarus, the IRI hand-picked the opposition candidate and that, according to their own polls, found that he had only SINGLE DIGIT support.    Yet they still, afterwords, went around yelling "Fraud!" and tried, failing miserably, to have yet another one of their famous color revolutions.  Do your homework before you start spewing vitriole, please.  Whose side are you on, anyway?  The fact is that Belarus has the highest standard of living of any of the CIS states and is actually a model of stability in Eastern Europe.  But you didn't report that.  Criticize Belarus for its courting of GMO crops and nuclear energy--sure.  But to call Lukashenko a despot is letting McCain's International Republican Institute put words in YOUR mouth.  Come on!

You also seem to have no real understanding of anti-imperialist struggle.  I am certainly no fan of Ahmedinijad.  But from everything I saw, he had a great deal of support--read, votes--in the rural areas, enough to win the last election.  And have you studied nothing about the so-called role of Twitter in the "uprising" there?  If you had you'd realize that there were robo-tweets traced to completely Zionist sources.  And while I would hardly call Ahmedinijad a paragon of peace and justice, are you going to say that his main opponent, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, was better or any champion of progressive politics and democracy?  He was a right-hand man to Khomeini, and was Prime Minister when Iran was involved in war with Iraq, and the government was carrying out the slaughter and imprisonment of thousands of unionists and political dissidents.  He was a key player in the Iran-Contra scandal.  Yes--may the people of Iran rise up!  But if you couldn't detect the hand of US imperialism trying to capitalize on and exploit the situation in Iran, than you are a little less investigative in your journalism than I had imagined!

I certainly cheered on the uprising in Egypt.  But I also never have lost mind of the fact that power was turned over to a military that has been utterly cooperative with the Zionists and has been receiving some $1.5 billion a year from the US government.  Are you suggesting there is no reason to express some concern?  Have you not read about military attacks against pro-democracy activists who are still in the streets?  Are you so anxious to have a victory in this world that you cannot also maintain your sense of nuance and in-depth analysis?

As for Qaddafi, the man seems to have lost control of himself as well as the nation, and I'm shocked by the shows of force against the Libyan people.  But my shock does not prevent me from asking questions and voicing concern about how the US and other agents of imperialism might take advantage of this.  I mean--just the obvious:  why do we hear so much more about Libya than about developments in Bahrain or Yemen?  Do you honestly think the US and European governments and corporate journalism and now Narco News are not playing up one uprising over others.  If you want to read an article that actually shows some decent forethought about what's going on there, read this one:  http://www.workers.org/2011/editorials/libya_0303/

You are attacking TeleSur and Venezuela in a climate of constant and continual efforts by the US to destablize the people's democracy there.  For shame!  By the way--I tried to log into my co-publisher's account and couldn't.  I tried to get a new password, but the form keeps saying it is unable to send the email.  Hopefully you'll publish this comment!

No, shame on you, James

James - The suggestion that my conclusions about Belarus anything come from the IRI or John McCain are beneath contempt. It is a country where the regime persecutes and imprisons people for performing street theater, for heaven's sake. If that's your revolution, you can stick it where the sun don't shine. I never mentioned anything about elections or fraud at all. If I don't use those words, how do you conclude those words have been put in my mouth, Sherlock? You're trying to start a fight in an empty room with arguments not raised at all here and on that you can carry on debating with your own paranoid fantasies.

Your defense of Ahmedinejad is pathetic and cretinous. The fundamentalist regime in Iran is the equivalent of the religious right in Christian lands. It betrayed the unions and socialists and youths who fought the revolution against the Shah - I worked with Iranian students in 1979 who had to contend with the dreaded Savak police and events there are nothing new to me - and if you had followed the events of 2009 at all you would know that it was those same unions and socialists (those that haven't been killed yet) who led the strikes, not somebody's anonymous Twitter feed.

Finally, your suggestion that a major State-owned media in any land should be immune from media criticism reveals you as hostile to the very concept of free speech and critique. I suppose it is fine with you that TeleSur smears the CONAIE (Federation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador) as supposedly US-guided imperialists because Eva Golinger screeched that five years ago a couple members of a related organization in a coalition of tens of thousands of indigenous, labor and other sectors attended a one day workshop, unpaid, that had some USAID money behind it. Dude, that's McCarthyism.

It is at moments of moral crisis when people reveal their true characters. This publication will always stand for freedom and justice everywhere, and we reject the kindergarten geopolitical map that Cold War nostalgists grip your icy hands around while making excuses for genocide. Have you even read or watched TeleSur's whitewashing coverage of Libya in recent hours? If that's your idea of journalism then you're as fake as a three dollar bill.

Check again

Once again, you are accepting at face value everything you here about Belarus from the corporate press.  For instance, corporate press has talked for years about disiddents who were disappeared or supposedly executed or locked away in jails--when they have shown to be living, free, in places like the UK.  There's also accusations that freedom of travel is severely limited, but the facts just don't bear this out.  I'd suggest you check out some sites other than the Washington Post and New York Times for your analysis.  Here's one place you could start:  http://www.belarussolidaritycampaign.co.uk/

As far as it goes, I certainly don't approve of all things Belarussian.  I am strongly critical of certain agricultural, ecological and energy positions they take.  But I can also tell you that most the accusations against Belarus made by the corporate press--accusations that you seem to be taking at face value--are less than credible.

My defense of Ahmedinejad?  Did you read a thing that I wrote?  I didn't defend him.  This just shows your inability to comprehend what you read!  I even said "may the people of Iran rise up!"  But I also refuse to get behind US and European efforts to portray the opposition candidate as a real alternative.  Like it or not, Ahmedinejad has a great deal of support--and a great deal of opposition--and an in depth analysis of the actual demographics and conditions of the voting there did not convince me that that election was stolen.  "Defense of Ahmedinejad?" Sheesh, Al.  I never did anything like that.  Have you know ability to look at things with levels of nuance?  Apparently not.  As you said, "The fundamentalist regime in Iran is the equivalent of the religious right in Christian lands."  And Mousavi was part and parcel of that regime and its repression of thousands.  So--I'm also not going to defend him and I'm not going to deny the degree to which the US and Europe and Israel tried to interfere in Iran's internal affairs and exacerbate and manipulate the situation--and not for the sake of human rights either, but for geopolitical power and energy access.

You also said, "Finally, your suggestion that a major State-owned media in any land should be immune from media criticism reveals you as hostile to the very concept of free speech and critique. I suppose it is fine with you that TeleSur smears the CONAIE..."  First of all, I took no such position over the events in Ecuador.  I can tell you that some elements of the indigenous organizations there had some pretty fishy support and records.  But others were and are undertaking righteous positions and struggles.  I actually had a lot to say during that period, and wrote quite positively about the positions and struggles of the indigenous at that time.  But I also refuse to apply a black or white, cartoonish analysis to the situation, and I refuse to jump on a "Correa--all bad" bandwagon that I'm sure the State Department and the NED would love to see progressives mimic.

As far as me being "hostile to the very concept of free speech and critique"--boy to you show how over the top you are willing to go!  I've never been anything of the sort.  First of all, look around, and where will you find another state that so willingly supports so much community media but in Venezuela.  And if you pay attention, you'll also find testimonial after testimonial from community media activists that they are not controlled by the state.  Have you ever been to Venezuela?  I have, and I can tell you that free speech abounds there more than I have ever seen anywhere else I've been, including the US.  Hell--most the media is corporate owned and anti-government!  If I'm not mistaken, it's the same situation in Belarus!  But what you're engaging in is  vitriolic, uninformed and misinformed speech. 

Telesur, by the way, is a cooperative effort of several states.  Maybe you are, but personally, I'm not an Anarchists, although I have a lot of respect for many Anarchists.  Nor have I failed to be critical of Venezuela in times past, when called for.  But whatever validity your criticism of Telesur may have had, it was dwarfed by the tone and the vitriol and the refusal to look at the full plate of issues and concerns surrounding this whole isse.  Your dismissal of Castro's comments shows that you are, indeed, jumping on a bandwagon rather than adopting any kind of journalistic commitment to sorting through and digging out the full truth of what's going on.  As another friend of mine wrote to me:  Al Giordano says in this piece:

"First of all, what could NATO possibly do to the Libyan people that Gaddafi isn't already doing?" 
  I don't know if he wrote in 2002, "What could Bush possibly do to the Iraqi people that Saddam isn't already doing?"

  Maybe Giordano is taking Christopher Hitchens as a role model."

It's you who are being juvenile in your approach to all this.  And, by the way, Telesur happens to be my home page.  If nothing else, they featured at least one article with Evo Morales calling on Qaddafi to exercise restraint.  But you are so anxious to attack others, so quick to jump on the bandwagon, that you are blinding yourself to the possible machinations of US imperialism.  You showed that in all your comments, including the simplistic things you wrote about Egypt in the piece.  Ridiculous.


Redbaiting and freedom of speech

By the way, your statement "...we reject the kindergarten geopolitical map that Cold War nostalgists grip your icy hands around while making excuses for genocide," is nothing less than a form of red-baiting and an attempt to dismiss my comments with insult and false and completely unsubstantiated accusations.  And we all know what red-baiting has done for freedom of speech in this country.  Sinking to some seriously low depths here, Al.

Where is your cavalry, James?

Oh, James, I just saw your appeal to an important Latin American studies mailing list for people to come over here and "refute this piece of trash in the Comments section." As you can see, we have published your commentaries even if they haven't met the standards of our comments policy (which you should read), but I must ask: where are your minions who agree with you that one person's genocidical monster is another person's freedom fighter?

Still, it is a little bit disingenuous of you to, on the one hand, accuse me of "red-baiting" based on a reference to Cold War nostalgics (a term that obviously refers to fetishists of the right as well as the left), and on the other hand, to cite a hilarious Workers World Party communique as evidence of your claims; a party that split from the Socialist Workers Party based in part on its disagreement with the SWP's opposition to the 1956 Soviet invasion of Hungary! Wow, that's really going to inspire the masses.

Fact is, I've been of the left all my life, and am pretty sure that I've been the target of more red-baiting, imprisonment and FBI harrassment because of it than you'll ever know. And my point included a necessary critique of the very real McCarthyist activities of some of the forces you defend. So, nice try, but you make it impossible to take you seriously.

Finally, I must ask: Is this really about sour grapes that I asked you to rewrite your last story submission here as a real news story rather than an NGO-style press release? You said you didn't have time to do that kind of heavy lifting, but you sure do have time on your hands now to be posting multiple rants here!


We've often disagreed

but I am with you on most of this.

Most look at political inclinations on a simple linear left/right equation. The north/south axis, authoritarianism vs. libertarianism (or anarchism) is the more important of the two. It's on this axis that autonomy for any particular region is addressed.

This movement was highly predictable and the fuel powering it is more generational than that of any particular political ideology.

The Millennial Generation has been crapped upon by the two previous generations. Millennials are coming of age.

But: a word of warning. They are strong, angry and determined but they have no plan beyond ridding themselves of the bondage they've had imposed upon them.

Leaders will rise, most probably from among the boomer generation that will channel their energy, perhaps for good, but more likely otherwise. The previous corresponding hero generation gave us the people that rose to fight Hitler and his fascist counterparts. They also gave rise to Nazi brownshirts.

We've entered a time of crisis. It will be global. Like nothing anyone alive on this planet has witnessed.

For more on the geenerational aspects of this I highly recommend the fourth turning by Strauss and Howe:


and yeah, that's one of the

and yeah, that's one of the issues being waged within what many would qualify as "the left".

its frustrating when the same western less is applied within colonized populations, and even more frustrat...ing to see how the projection of these continued colonial reflections are used to once again subalternalize proceses of resistance and socio-political affirmation in a western post-modern analytical framework...

I disagree with Chavez and Noriega standing shoulder to shoulder with Gaddaffi, and i say that being extremely ignorant of middle eastern and northern african history.

that said, i'm not about to homogenize the plurality of voices that telesur labors to make visible that continue to be erased in the contemporary colonial media. There are proceses going on in latin america that go beyond marxist-capitalist western dichotomies which the network is not afraid to show, even while it is a direct threat to the marxist dogma.

The Mapuches, CONAIE, Afro-Colombian "movements" are visible within their own circles and broadcast to other circles through alternative media of various "movements" and even telesur.

I am pissed about Chavez alliance with Gaddafi, especially knowing how much his media persona is absolutely deliberate juxtaposed with the fact this his studies go FAR beyond marxism to other cosmologies within the diversity of latin american socio-political philosophy and more and more within arab and african history.

Bolivia meanwhile is about to bring down Evo because the speed of his efforts towards a non-western model of the nation-state is too slow for a critical portion of "his" base. Bolivia is 80% indigenous, ecuador 60% and they and "we" ain't staying quiet against the marxist left, the capitalist right or anyone else in the middle.

I'll grant you that what has been happening are alliances between "ethnic groups" (who have their own places, and spaces of socio-political formation that includes socio-economic relations of power pertinent to resource extraction and distribution other than capitalist) and those on "the left" who share a similar concept from their own spaces. and Chavez is fully aware of this and engages in real DIALOGUE (not object-subject, nor subject-subject) within this process, hence my indignant confusion about what the fuck is he doing supporting Gaddaffi...

@ Paul Escobar

Paul - Please email me at narconews@gmail.com


Sheesh, Al.  This is hardly about sour grapes over rejecting that article.  You had every right to accept that or reject it, and I respect your reasons as valid.  I'm surprised you'd sink to that or even bring it up, and I think that was rather petty. I didn't have time at that point to rewrite it according to your specifications and the piece was published elsewhere.  I also have got to let this whole conversation drop right now, as well, but, since you brought that up, felt I should defend myself against such a silly accusation.  But, fyi, the first comment was written because I think you opportunistically used the events in Libya to launch an all out assault on the validity of TeleSur as a medium of information; because you made comments regarding Belarus and Lukashenko that I think just feed the attempts of the NED, corporate media, etc. to isolate that country and to force it into the same kinds of fiascos that we're seeing throughout Eastern Europe; because you seem to be hostile toward any reporting about Libya that doesn't maintain the dominant line; and I thought your dismissal of the concerns expressed by Castro was rather flippant, especially with your inference that a NATO invasion, relatively speaking, wouldn't be such a bad thing.  Wouldn't this be a better opportunity to suggest that if there is outside intervention it should take place under the auspices of the African Union, rather than NATO?   I wrote the second comment in response to several things, but especially to the completely incorrect idea that I ever defended Ahmadenijad.  I think it's great you're sending your reporters to Libya and will be reporting on that.  I think you were very wrong in taking that situation and using it as a platform for attacking TeleSur, Lukashenko and Castro.  Indeed, it would behoove many a Western and Left journalist to look a little more closely at the other side of the story of Belarus, before just repeating the very things being said by those who are trying to destabilize that country for the most neoliberal of aims.  As for your dismissal of the Workers World article--first, I'm not a member of the Workers World.  But the article was a good and reasoned piece about the events in Libya.  You didn't respond to that, but engaged in, instead, yet another subtle form of redbaiting.  Who cares about the history of Workers World?  That's irrelevant to the value of the article.

Anyway, I am busy, so this will be the last thing I have to say about this.


Power to the people of Libya and Egypt and Tunisia!  May they achieve democracy and may the resist the inevitable attempts to coopt it.  Another good analysis of the situation, from Tariq Ali:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/feb/22/arab-1848-us-hegemon...

Maybe you just didn't read it carefully

James - You are welcome to romanticize the Belarussian state, cover your eyes to its heavy handed repression and censorship against its own people, pretend it doesn't exist, and even talk to yourself in the mirror to convince yourself you've somehow been "red baited" (truth is, I can't tell what your political tendencies are from what you've written, you don't seem like an authentic socialist or communist or anarchist to me, and it doesn't really matter anyway, but having spent my life, right up through the present, as what many consider a "red" I think you're reaching so far I worry you will break your own arm).

What is really unforgiveable - and I mean, that I'm not going to forget it anytime soon - is that you take a rhetorical point I made to demonstrate that Gaddafi's aerial attacks on Libyan people were, in fact, akin to a hypothetical NATO invasion and you take the cheap road of using that to imply that I would support such an invasion, which of course I did not and would not. I in fact oppose any such stupidity. I have never supported a single US military action in my lifetime and don't plan on starting now or any foreseeable point in the future. But I also think Fidel's prediction that a NATO invasion would happen "in a matter of hours or days" has already been half proved untrue ("hours" have passed and "days" will, too, soon) and I really don't think Washington or NATO is in the position or has the desire to do it. We'll see whose vision is more sage once the "few days" are up, I guess. To me, Fidel made a cheap media stunt to provide a smokescreen for an old friend, without regard to the real human suffering on the ground.

I happen to believe that native resistance and rebellion is a much more effective tool to dethrone dictators than military invasion. But of course this is what the "geopolitical fetishists" (of right and left, so as not to bump your paranoia of finding red-baiting where it never exists) are most upset about: The Civil Resistance Renaissance is now plowing through a series of tyrannies both on the right and the left. Some will be in harmony with US policy, others will be inconvenient for it, but I am not going to let that color my belief in resistance and rebellion based on your silly geopolitical map.

By the way, there is also an interesting discussion of these things going on over at the Marxmail list, and you'd be surprised (and upset) by how much agreement from some hard liners is being expressed with my views as stated in this story. So take an antacid and buckle up: the world is changing with or without you.

addendum rebellion

Is Patrick ever a throwback to the ideological magna carta of the 1970s!? You would, I remember, cut your ideological mantra for the initiated from the pawning of new-wave chess nuts.

The American People were de facto 'first articled' in any revolution. Rule number one, de-personalize American citizenry and make it the sticky institution of a guilty party. The enfranchised and freshly liberated were thereby 'raised' to the level of clapping addendum to the People revolution; a contradiction that planted the seed of apparatus-centric revolutionary architecture.

Ideologically driven revolutions run on non renewable and quickly depleted creative energy ...and on fossil fuel. People-centric upheavals run best on nuclear, period. I call it particle dialectic of no known address.

¡Excelente ensayo Al!

Just read this tweet; it seems that Chávez has broken his silence?

Vamos Canciller Nicolás: dales otra lección a esa ultraderecha pitiyanqui! Viva Libia y su Independencia! Kadafi enfrenta una guerra civil!!

are you going to write on

are you going to write on wisconsin?

Tip o' the hat

Well, you know--for the record, I think you've done a lot of important reporting in the past and that Narco News is worth including in ones diet of information.  Certainly I appreciated your work uncovering US interference in Mexican elections.  I think your pot-shots in this article at TeleSur were more ranting than reporting and that you were taking advantage of the Libyan situation to attack TeleSur in a way overly broad manner.  I follow TeleSur regularly, along with a large number of other information sources, and can say that they provide some excellent covereage of many a story missed by most.  I also think you should dig a little deeper about Belarus and Lukashenko, because I think you are lacking some information and are repeating some sources that I don't think are credible, but rather instruments of neoliberal propaganda.  Anyway--keep up the otherwise good work...By the way--coupla corrections:  I misunderstood that you were sending reporters to Libya, but see it's to Egypt.  But maybe you should do a side trip and go to Libya and report first hand from there.  And I asked if you'd been to Venezuela, but see you have.  Peace out and all that.

Learn something every day...

I didn't realize Belarus, as part of the freedom-loving Soviet military, invaded Afghanistan in the 1979 to fight terrorism and bring "peace to the land."

In Afghanistan, the Soviet forces, which included our countrymen among others, displayed bravery and selflessness in fighting international terrorism and showed an example of honest fulfillment of military duty.

We will always remember the feat of arms of the soldiers-internationalists who despite mortal danger were doing their utmost to bring peace to the land of Afghanistan. — Alexander Lukashenko


@ James

While other countries in Eastern Europe have their own issues, I don't get what do you see in Belarus. Yes, the streets there are clean (at least in Minsk) and petty crime is fairly low (by the regional standards). It's maintained by the Russian oil money (that's where the standard of living was coming from). As far as social equality goes, Belarus is not very different in this regard from other countries in the region (e.g. it has the same Gini coefficient as Ukraine). The only exception may be that rich people don't flaunt their money there as much as they do elsewhere. In fact, standard of living has been falling over the last several years as less Russian money has been coming in. Prices are now quite high, salaries for public employees and pensions are much lower than in neighboring countries and a lot of social services have been cut. In 2006 Lukashenko was indeed quite popular b/c the standard of living was higher but it's not the case any more. I still don't expect a revolution there any time soon but it's unlikely that Lukashenko would have won a fair election now. 

Organizing Egypt's revolution

For more on the organizers of Egypt's revolution see this special report from FRONTLINE PBS:



Al, you missed something.

Al, you missed something. You said:

I constantly return to a question raised by the Situationist Raoul Vaneigem:

"By a strange oversight, no historian has ever taken the trouble to study how people actually lived during the most extreme revolutionary moments."

The media, including that part which has been sympathetic and in solidarity with the Egyptian revolt, has proved so far completely incapable at the task of coldly and rationally documenting what exactly the young organizers, authentic journalists, bloggers and other change agents in Egypt did, under extremely difficult conditions, to end a thirty-year dictatorship in eighteen days. That’s where the story remains, largely unreported.

It is being reported. There was an excellent Frontline program on PBS on Wed night — that is being repeated here on Friday, that "coldly and rationally documenting what exactly the young organizers, authentic journalists, bloggers and other change agents in Egypt did" during the preceeding 2 years and during the uprising. It is in two parts; one on the youth movement and one specifically on the Muslim Brotherhood's part in it. From the website:

"Revolution in Cairo: The April 6 Movement:  Inside the youth movement that ignited the uprising.

FRONTLINE dispatches teams to Cairo, going inside the youth movement that helped light the fire on the streets. We follow the "April 6th" group, which two years ago began making a bold use of the Internet for their underground resistance--tactics that led to jail and torture for many of their leaders."

And on the Brotherhood:

"Veteran Middle East correspondent Charles Sennott of GlobalPost lands in Cairo for FRONTLINE to take a hard look at Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood--the most well-organized and powerful of the country's opposition groups--as a new fight for power in Egypt begins to takes shape."

On line at : http://video.pbs.org/video/1811459812/  The pieces are magnificant.

These are powerful, well put together pieces that tell the story in a brilliant way. David Wolman  of Wired Magazine has been watching the developments from almost the beginning and was inside the April 6th organization.

I would advise anyone with an interest in what has been unfolding to watch the programs. We here have the germ of a revolution going in Wisconsin which seems to be spereading across the country. What we could use from these programs are some of the ideas for scaling things up and ways to keep it going. We have the problem of 51 separate jurisdictions with each governor being a ruler in his own right. We need to focus, as the April 6th movement did on a few discrete well thought out demands. The right to unions and collective bargaining; the right to health care; the right to decent government services. The right to open governments free from corruption.

I mention health care because there is a move by many governors to make disasterous cuts from Medicaid and other social services. They are playing teachers and all public employees against the other social services to make unexcusable cuts to all. And Governor Walker has been talking about taking control of Medicaid. The Wisconsin budget law includes a provision allowing the governor to sell the public power plants off on a no bid basis to whomever the governor sees fit if he thinks it would be good for the state. The Koch Brothers have been advertising for power plant managers already.

This common charge is being made around the country: The public employees have been living it large while the taxpayers are hurting. No one will point out that teachers, and other government workers are taxpayers, too.

Now is the time to focus efforts on America if we want to keep a middle class and get people out of poverty. Let's not get too distracted by the uprisings elswhere. But we sure can learn a lot from the Egyptian April 6th Movement and we have a brilliant look inside to show the way.

Please, all, watch      http://video.pbs.org/video/1811459812/

It will not be a waste of time.


I think you made a mistake

I think you made a mistake in this paragraph:

"And so it is especially disheartening to see and hear some of the heroic and historic leaders of revolutionary Latin America praise Gaddafi (Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega went so far as to claim that Gaddafi “is again waging a great battle”) at this moment when Libyan dictator behaves like Fulgencio Batista, Anastasio Somoza, Augusto Pinochet, Hugo Banzer, Carlos Andres Perez and every other despicable war criminal and dictator the Western Hemisphere has suffered and which Boliviarian América rose up to topple."


There were 2 presidents in Venezuela with last name Perez, one a dictator that ruled the country from 1952 to 1958 (Marcos Perez-Jimenez)... and the other a man who is considered "the democrat of Latin America", who was president twice (1973-1978 and 1988-1993), in his second term he "suffered" 2 coup d'etats in the same year (1992), both of them lead by actual president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez.


I think you might be referring to Marcos Perez-Jimenez in your article.


Please comment on this.


Kindest regards,


David Mateos.

No, I did mean Carlos Andrés Perez

David -

The man you call "the democrat of Latin America," during his second presidential term in 1989, sent the National Guard into the streets to crush peaceful protests by Venezuelan citizens, now known as the "Caracazo." According to human rights organizations, at least 500 unarmed citizens were murdered by this butcher, and other respectable human rights organizations place the death toll over 3,000.

That is exactly who I am talking about. Carlos Andrés Perez, who died recently, died a war criminal, not a "democrat."

Telesur is reporting that

Telesur is reporting that there is a Civil war in Libya. That is actally what is happening in Libya. the "protestors' are armed with guns and knives. Also a good portion of people in the streets are qaddafi supporters. That is all that Telesur is reporting. To say that they have it wrong is complete nonsense. Let us wait until the events continue to unfold. remember that the Western press is biased against Qaddafi so I would caution people to be skeptical about reports that come from the Western press. Now Im not pro Qaddafi but I am pro Objective Journalism (something that is becoming rare in the Western media)

Telesur: Before and After Our Story

Tony - What you describe (without links, quotations or translation) most certainly is not "all that TeleSur is reporting."

My story above documents its claims in that it links to and translates from multiple atrocious reports that have gone on for more than a week from Libya.

However, after we published this critique, a polemic inside of TeleSur has opened up, as I put in my update, above, which you probably didn't see, so I'll paste it in here:

Update 3:14 p.m. Friday, February 25: A little more than a day after we published this story, TeleSur has published its first honest story in a week from Libya, from the resistance-controlled city of Benghazi:

"Here, the people fill the streets celebrating freedom from the government of Gaddafi. What can be seen in the streets is a new country, a country that doesn't recognize the government, where the people themselves have organized committees, are cleaning the streets, the food is gratis, the people distribute the food, they send free medical attention, and have increased their military control. On all sides are people with guns, but peace reins...

"It should be remembered that this is a country where previously very few foreign journalists entered and their uprising was done without those journalsits present, with very little communication, and the faced a ferocious repression. They have shown us terrible photos and images that we would never be able to show on television of bullet ridden bodies. The people here say that hundreds of people died last Saturday and Sunday, but they resisted, they continue fighting and at this moment they are in control of the city."

It may also be of interest to our readers that the reporter, Reed Lindsay, is a 2003 graduate of the Narco News School of Authentic Journalism, and we have received information from other TeleSur journalists that there is a strong debate within that news organization at present over its coverage of Libya, perhaps unprecedented in the network's six years in that journalists within the channel - the workers of the station - have strongly objected to the simulation and dishonesty that plagued TeleSur's Libya coverage up until now. As with the larger Bolivarian revolution, there are many, many people of conscience who see human rights and resistance as higher priorities than geopolitical alliances, so things have taken an interesting turn, to say the least. Let's hope to see more of it.

*     *    *

Now, Tony: Reed's report and the other Telesur reports can't all be true: they conflict each other. But all the corroborating information strongly suggests that it is Reed's report, and not the previous ones, that is accurate.

In any case, I think its clear that TeleSur's management finally understands it has a problem here and we will see how it is addressed in upcoming reports.

Time To Read Some Bakunin!

Just another reminder of how movement and societies will need to move away from depending too much on centralized state powers and organize themselves in some sort of quasi, anarcho-communist style as envisioned by thinkers like Bakunin.

HOWEVER, the way Telesur and Golinger are flops on Libya, I was disappointed in the same way with Al's coverage of Obama's "healthcare reform" and his actions during the Honduras coup. The same way Chavez, Telesur etc., should be heavily criticized when they slip, Obama should also be called out for his own actions. Instead Al's coverage in 2009-10 was disappointing to say the least.

@ Max

Max -

Are you referring to this story I wrote during the coup in Honduras?

Too Cute By Half on Honduras, Mr. President ?

Or could you be referring to the multiple stories Bill Conroy and I reported exposing Secretary of State Clinton's continued funding of the coup regime through the Millenium Challenge Corporation?

(We were the first to report that story and we kept on it all summer of 2009 long.)

Or perhaps you objected to my coverage from nine Honduran states featuring the voices of those at the grassroots level of the resistance telling their own story?

Nah, of course not. I bet you objected to one thing and one thing only: that I didn't conclude that the US government had ordered the coup d'etat (WikiLeaks cables published since prove that I was right about that) when others were so eager to do so.

Or maybe you objected to my informed observations that there were divisions in the Washington administration over how to respond to the coup? (Why is it that folks can accept that there were divisions in the Egyptian regime of Mubarak - in which the Army eventually split from him - and not have the same nuance regarding the US government? And haven't you followed the reports of the divisions between Obama and Clinton over how to respond to Egypt? Why is it so hard to believe that something similar happened regarding Honduras?)

I really would like to know Max, what your complaint (you don't cite any specifics) was about my Honduras coverage. Was it that I didn't go along with the conspiracy theories and instead reported from the ground level more about the resistance in Honduras than what those in power were saying up above?

Like I said, the WikiLeaks cables have demonstrated that I was exactly on the right track, that the facts I reported then were the true ones, while so many others were spinning pure speculation.

On health care, we can agree to disagree: I'm glad that health care bill passed and glad that more people have access to health care now in the US than had it before, even if it did not go farther and faster toward the kind of single payer system I'd like to see.

But on Honduras, what really is your complaint? That I didn't scream and pout and kick and accuse people of doing things they didn't do? Well, that wouldn't be journalism.



Chavez on Telesur

Chavez appeared live on Telesur last night for the first time in several days. Talked about his friendship with Gaddafi and complained about international intervention in Libya. He compared the criticisms of Gaddafi's use of violence today to the criticisms of him during the 2002 coup attempt.

A Novel's killing field...

Tragically enacted with live ammunitions, Cervantes' Don Quixote is being staged in full pseudo-Libyan absurdity. Sancho Panza's ultimate fate, as will be that of today's 'characterial' equivalents, lays in sealing himself off in his compadres' folly.

al Giordano

Dear Al,

I have followed Narco since the beginning, and have learned a great deal from the content of the website.

Over the past year I have been taking a back by your tone in your articles. For the term, ''tone'' I apologize as I don't mean to come across condescending or smug. 

Instead of doing the job of reporting, you include this ''here at the authentic school of Journalism....we reported it here first.....''. In your articles there is a constant self-referential aspect that interferes with the content of the article. It becomes over bearing and a distraction from the content of the stories.  Why do you feel the need to write in the defensive? 

Sometimes you get personal and then I begin to question your intentions and authenticity. I believe we have to build a culture of resistance and I'm not sure making digs at Naomi Klein or Eva Golinger's is going to help anyone. Being critical is one thing but making stabs at Klein, like here book tours, and flying around, etc., kinda misrepresents the reality. I'm canadian and I've been to many events ''on the ground'', and have see Klein there as well. 

I was in Venezuela during the 2009 constitutional vote and came home to media lies where I was constantly having to defend what I experienced. People would say that no I didn't see what I saw and Chavez is the devil, all that stuff. It was unbelievable disconcerting and frustrating.  

I am an artist and I believe we all have different roles to play. I understand the difference between experiencing an event first hand as I did in Venezuela in places like Santa Fe, Carupano, Juan Griego, Caracas and Rio Caribe. I was at the G20 tear gas summit in Quebec city and I was on stage performing my dances and singing my songs against Canada's Peter kent and the Honduras Golpe during the Toronto G20 in June. I was not sure what to think when reading your article, Summit Protests Are Obsolete. My gut reaction didn't agree, but I was not able to articulate why. After the events still unfolding in the mid west and middle east my gut reaction is stronger. I understand how in the west our, ''right to protest'' gets manipulated and co-opted by the media, by the government. I understand too that it is used to justify the costs for the ridiculous security state apparatus. So what do we do? Learn to adapt and find creative ways for protest? I learned more than I can express at my first protest, a sense of belonging and coming together- like being caught in a snow storm in Nova Scotia and people coming out of their houses to help and provide shelter. Maybe that is reason enough not to give up on the idea of 'public protest'. We meet others at these events and we share stories. 

So why not have a discussion with Golinger and together debate your points. Golinger's work and analysis including the specifics in regards, "pro-democracy building'', funds coming from Canadian tax dollars helped me enormously, not to mention helped inform my visit to Venezuela with out which I might not have been as prepared to deal with the violence and rhetoric I witnessed from the opposition. Venezuela Analysis dot com, whom Golinger is a frequent contributor along with the work of Gregory Wilpert is well respected and celebrated by the likes of John Pilger and Robert Fisk.  The energy you direct toward Golinger is very strong and personal, and I question why that is. Would your tone be the same if it were Fisk or Wilpert you were criticizing?

Finally Al, I certainly do not mean you any disrespect as I have followed your work in particular for years and I learned so much. It has politicized my art practice (for lack of a better word-apologies), and directed me to alternative sources otherwise unknown.  I write this because I am somewhat confused and uncomfortable with the attitude--our reporting is better than your reporting- especially when I personally have learned much from all parties. Al right all the best- Strike!


Eva Golinger getting a bad deal man!

Hello again and one last comment:

Reading through some of the comments about Eva Golinger like this ''Chavez's revolutionary go-go dancer'' I say this:

So called progressive enlightened aware citizens, this is bordering on misogynist, man!

I'm feeling bad about this! Are there any women out there getting a simlar feeling in their gut?





@ Strike

Strike - Like you I dislike sexist inferences, and understand that women in the public sphere, unfairly, have to put up with them all the time, but you will not find, not once, any such inference or use of "coded" language in anything I have written, whether in critique of Secretary of State Clinton or Journalist of the State Golinger.

I, too, think Okke's "go go" crack was unfair, but since he is one of 400 copublishers of this site, his comments are not moderated. And as you can see, although I disagree with some of what you have said, and don't accept some of your claims of fact as true, we have approved your comment countering it nonetheless.

As for your proposed "discussion" (or debate), the only thing that ever came close to it was in a comments section on another site in which that Journalist of the State reverted to accusations that my work is bought and sold for money (those kinds of charges are pretty absurd around here: eleven years of publishing a low budget online newspaper like this leaves me, still, without a house, a car or a credit card; obviously we're not in this for material gain). Of course, I would happily debate her (or almost anyone) anytime, anywhere if the conditions to allow for full and free speech are part of the show.

As for your stated discomfort with "tone," I think the eleven-year-story of this newspaper and its School of Authentic Journalism is itself interesting and worth promoting and sharing, and know that if we don't do it, nobody else will. I also think media criticism between publications is a necessary engine of authentic democracy. So you will likely continue to have problems with my "tone." But my guess is you will keep returning here precisely because it is different than other media projects and provides reported information you won't find anywhere else. I personally don't bother myself with other peoples' "tone." They can do their thing, and I can do mine, and that is what I call free speech.

Renewed My Monthly Donation

I just $igned up for the monthly donation to The Fund again. It's good to be doing $omething again.

Free Speech. Really Free.

Thanks Lorie

You're a great contributor to this project, and not just financially, but in your excellent participation in the Narcosphere and comments sections.

Frontline piece

Came into the comments to post the Frontline piece from inside the April 6th movement, but it looks like Sam Doberman beat me to it.  It's a must watch and is a perfect counter-example of exactly what you say is missing from the historical documentation.  I look forward to what your team adds to the reporting.

Here's the link for reference - 


Protestors faces & reflections on human rights situation

Thanks for the article.

One very strong message I've been getting is the looks on protesters faces in various photos. Evidence for the very deep emotional and energetic shifts going on.

Another indicator for me was noticing that Libya was once the chair of human rights at the U.N. (something I'd either missed or forgotten)... I once protested with a "human rights" organisation in the field of health rights, that boasted of its U.N. accreditation. Now that just seems absurd.  There are also the pictures of people like Blair hugging Gadaffi which look extremely disturbing now. This in the face of large parts of the populace in the UK that appear to be completely oblivious to the massive events unfolding around them (outside of these knowledgeable pages). I had to force a couple of conversations about the subject which revealed the strange reality that exists here in the UK and (I would presume as similar) north of the border in the USA.

The arab movements are restoring my faith in people firmly engaged with reality, and sadly exposing how far so many have drifted from reality in western "free" countries.

The Venezuelan behavior. Less ideological, More tactical views.


This approach will be useful for this discussion...

(We hope you passed the spanish lessons, is not so difficult)


US Playbook


I am torn on this issue and have a strong feeling that I may be a microcosm of the left.  On the one hand, there are certain leaders of the left, with the left being defined simply as being not of the US imperialist right, who have overstayed their welcome, Castro and Gadaffi come to mind.  Early on they represented anti US and Russian imperialism, but with foreign intervention threatening their stability were forced to abandon the revolutionary goals and focus on security.  This, for the United States represented a second-best option in which the territory in question is unable to mature either politically or economically, leaving it susceptible to US exploitation at a later date.

One of the most often used plays in this US playbook is the misrepresentation of the leaders of "rogue states" as either crazy or stupid.  Look at the coverage of the comments Hugo Chavez made at the UN a few years ago.  Every American is convinced that the man must be crazy for calling Bush the devil in his introduction, but not one can tell you a single thing he mentioned in the body of the speech, namely the need to reform the United Nations.  Likewise, every American is convinced that Ahmadinejad is just as crazy or as stupid.  The man placed #4 in Iran's university entrance exams, which is better than what can be said about any of America's leaders.  Contrary to the media's portrayal of him, I doubt that he's dumb enough to think he can fire off nukes at Israel without Iran being NATO and Israel firing 1000 in return.  Neither Chavez nor Ahmadinejad are dumb or crazy;  on the contrary, they are smart enough to understand the US playbook well.

The media claims so often that that Ahmadinejad wants Israel to be wiped from the map, but never have I seen any clip of him actually making these remarks.  I am actually doubting that they exist.  One comment that is often attributed to Ahmadinejad is that he believes Israel doesn't have a right to exist.  I have seen him on a few English language interviews in which he argues that if the holocaust was a crime perpetrated by Europeans to fellow Europeans, the solution should be in Europe, not the Middle East.  A lot seems to be lost in translation; we should examine the motives of those translating for us.

I don't believe it to be farfetched to suggest that Gaddafi may be suffering from similar losses in translation. I have heard that he made crazy remarks, but haven't actually heard any of the remarks he has made.  I did read, however, that he believes there is a plot to break up Lybia in order to set up an emirate to control the oil rich areas and not share the profits with the rest of the country.  I do not believe his statements to be farfetched given the recent trend to break up countries that cannot be colonized as a whole into smaller, more manageable pieces like they did to Yugoslavia.

In regards to Iran, let us remember that he is simply the face of a theocracy and that his range of actions are limited by the theocracy.  We should also not be so quick to accept that an actual coup has occured in Egypt when Mubarak was only the face of a US- backed military regime.  It is quite possible that Mubarak will be replaced with another man chosen by the military with the blessing of the US.  His range of actions will be limited.  If we are to make the excuse for Egypt, then lets make it for Iran.

@ Ramon

Ramon - This publication - and I in particular - have always corrected portrayals of Chavez as anything less than highly intelligent, and we have always pointed out that the US media narrative about him is false. Ahmedinejad may be "book smart," but he is a terrible repressor in so many ways that Chavez (and in fact Castro) are not. Ahmedinejad in no way is a bulwark against theocracy: he and his Basiji goons are its most violent manifestation. He is propping up the theocracy, and not moderating it in any way at all other than his concessions to global capitalism.

Part of what I think is happening this week is that there is an overdue backlash against leaders who claim to be "anti imperialist" but have delivered their nations to capitalism whole hog. I also observe that there are a lot of people who want the Bolivarian revolution to succeed and view Chavez's embrace of some of these other guys as harming those chances gravely.

Revolutions do not end in a day. At best, they are a continual process.

Finally, since I am fluent in Spanish, nothing gets lost in translation here in that language. As for Arabic, we count on colleagues who speak that fluently. And Gaddafi has surely been in these days a frightening force, most of all for people who do understand his words.

Fighting old habits

(US Centric-)

I like these words from Chris Bowers this morning:

Old political habits die hard, and it will not be easy to convince long-time Democratic politicians that we dirty hippies can bring more accountability to bear than can the conservative political industrial complex. Our only option is to keep fighting as hard as we can...

The article is talking about long-term effects of the Wisconsin demonstrations.

Excellent analysis here by

Excellent analysis here by Jorge Martin (IMT): 


Libya Uprising News Update

Rebellion and resistance against all tyranny, no matter what flag it raises, is the single greatest expression of what makes us human. It is the engine of evolution of our species.


Worthy of Tom Paine...who had a much shoreter career.

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About Al Giordano


Publisher, Narco News.

Reporting on the United States at The Field.

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