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Gerard Latortue, Haiti's Illegitimate Ruler

The gloves are off.

U.S.-and-French-installed Viceroy of Haiti, Gerard Latortue, is now demanding that the sovereign nation of Jamaica refuse to allow legitimately elected Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to stay on the neighboring island country, according to this report from Reuters:

Haiti's new leader fired a diplomatic broadside at Jamaica on Friday for allowing ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to visit, while U.S. and French troops came under renewed attack by gunmen...

Latortue announced he might fly to Haiti's Caribbean neighbor this weekend to pursue an agreement with Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson to limit Aristide's stay.

"Since the word was known yesterday afternoon that Aristide is coming to Jamaica we have observed an increase in tensions in Port-au-Prince," Latortue told reporters.

According to the US Government's Voice of America, Washington wants Aristide muzzled while in Jamaica, too.

This is "democracy?" No, this is what the aftermath of a coup d'etat looks like.

Coca Leaf: A Breakthrough in Bolivia?

According to a report by BolPress today, the Bolivian government and coca growers came to an agreement to "begin a campaign for decriminalization of coca leaf."

The report states:

The government and the coca growers agreed to begin joint actions toward the United Nations to achieve the decriminalization of coca leaf in the assembly that will be held in April in Vienna, Austria.

The State House in Cochabamba was the seat of yesterday's meeting between Chapare coca growers and government officials, after the coca growers gave a deadline of March 22nd for a response to the demand of a cessation of forced eradication.

According to Evo Morales, leader of the coca producers, the government agreed to launch a campaign to decriminalize coca leaf in the United Nations...

...the government did not rule out... a pause in eradication... (or) the possibility of declaring a legal zone for coca production and manufacturing...


Ten Days to Save J-School!

March 7, 2004
Please Distribute, especially to those who can help

Dear Friends and Readers,

Good news.  We've now passed the halfway mark and raised $5,403 toward our next $10,000 matching grant installment to Narco News. The hard part is that we have just ten days - until March 18, when the Narco News School of Authentic Journalism must decide how many scholarships to offer for the upcoming summer session in South America, and open up the application process in time - to raise another $4,597.

Your responses and donations over the past two weeks - especially to guest appeals by Tim Meehan, by Colleen Glynn, and by Laura del Castillo Matamoros - have brought us more than halfway.

It's inspiringly clear - from your contributions, increased readership, and renewed enthusiasm from our journalists throughout Latin America - that there is tremendous response to the re-launch of Narco News that occurred on February 16, just 19 days ago!

Bush, Haiti & Venezuela: A Children's Tale

CARACAS, VENEZUELA, MARCH 6, 2004: There are three very short words in Venezuela that often provoke smiles when they are spoken: "No fui yo!" (It wasn't I).  They are heard when someone releases gases from their stomach and doesn't want to own up to it.

The March 1 edition of the Caracas daily, Ultimas Noticias, has a photo of the ambassador of the United States to Haiti, Brian Foley, with his hands open and an interesting look on his face.  I cannot see the words that are coming out of his mouth but "no fui yo" would seem very suitable for the moment.  And he would be speaking the truth.  He is only a part of the machine that crushed Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

The night before I received an email from a reporter friend whom I respect very much.  He is a young hard-working journalist and graduate of the first Narco News School of Authentic Journalism, Reed Lindsay...

NYT's Forero Through the Looking Glass

Like Alice in Wonderland, disgraced New York Times reporter Juan Forero found himself in a world today that is far from the stodgy halls of the Cathedral of 43rd Street…

He went to the studios of Venezuela Community Media, a story he has ignored for these years that he's been so busy doing the bidding of coup plotters and oligarchs.

Here's a fresh photo, taken today, Saturday, March 6th, of Forero in Caracas, Venezuela, where he entered the studios of Community Radio Perola, where he interviewed Community Journalists Carles Carles, Elida Polanco, and others. A journalist who was present reports:

"We hope that he writes an article without falsifying the reality, and that's what I told him. But it seemed strange to me that he didn't want us to photograph him. He was very evasive the whole time, and he found it strange that we broadcast a political program and that we tell the truth about Yankee totalitarianism. Well, let's wait and see what he writes."

But if past is prologue, Forero has behaved unethically before (see below), so it will be interesting to see what his real agenda was to visit Radio Perola…

Aristide Is Muzzled... and So Is the Press

Agence France Presse reports (via The Jamaica Observer):

Aristide muzzled
Contact with journalists restricted, say hosts

Saturday, March 06, 2004

BANGUI, (AFP) - The Cabinet in the Central African Republic went into talks yesterday, reportedly to discuss what to do with their difficult guest, ousted Haitian leader, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and took steps to keep him quiet.

National radio announced that all local and foreign journalists with questions relating to Aristide, who has annoyed his hosts with embarrassing statements, must henceforth first address themselves to the CAR authorities.

"All agents of the private press and the foreign press must go to the foreign ministry over any matter related to the stay of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, for better coordination and orientation," said a broadcast government statement.

I'll have more thoughts on this in a moment, but wanted to turn on the microphone and get everybody else who is not muzzled or kept by force from the Internet screen, who is not a deposed-n-kidnapped-but-legitimately-elected president, and who is not a eunuch of the Commercial Media, to get unmuzzled and start talking right away.

After all, if they're that desperate to shut him up, there must be a lot still left to be said.

Spotlight On: Colombia Fumigation

The expensive U.S. military adventure named "Plan Colombia" and renamed (in a rare moment of candor by those who want to expand Colombia's civil war beyond its borders) the "Andean Regional Initiative," has so many things wrong with it (massive human rights violations, strengthening of paramilitary death squads, massacres, assassinations of hundreds of union and social leaders, and the delivery of the Colombian state and military to control by the narco) that critics have had to play defense, constantly reacting to every new horror, and have thus lost much focus.

Now is the time for those members of Congress and activist groups concerned about this atrocity to bring new players onto the field and to begin playing offense: Specifically, against the plan's weakest link and one that, by itself, causes great harm: the widespread aerial spraying of herbicides over vast tracts of farmland, including in the Amazon basin. (See Narco News' report from May 2003 for more background, plus some more recent links below.)

Everybody, it seems, from corporate America on down, claims to want to "save the rainforest." It's often a feel-good cause that even includes ice cream and other consumer products named for it. But the spear has not been sufficiently raised and pointed, or emerged beyond the kind of "humanrightsspeak" inside-the-beltway language that tends to overwhelm and blunt public outrage. Frankly, environmentalists have always been much better at sounding alarms…

Dear mom, letters from the war

A civil servant, be it Immigration, Customs, Border Patrol is likely to have a combat veteran as supervisor at some level. Or is my assumption wrong?  Might prove a good project for the Government Accounting Office. How many law enforcement officers are combat veterans? If they could answer with anonymity, a series of questions would flush out those that likely had a degree of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and dose of Political Betrayal Trauma -- a hard cocktail for human consumption it now appears, but little has been said about it for lay-people -- all the 'us' out there, living and working with combat veterans.

My father was one, and my brother did his share of training and supervising co-workers in the field. Both of them had Marine Corps training, thought in military terms even around the house, and so we might ask when we ponder this leadership quagmire in Law Enforcement Agencies -- who are they? What makes them tick?

I introduce my father, through letters to his mother during World War II -- Earl Edward Callahan. I do not 'doctor' the racist language -- as these World War II vets, recruited to build border security following World War II were not unlike my father, and likely made up the bulk of the men on the Border Patrol in the late 40's and 50's -- some backdrop for agency problems today, perhaps. For any pain it brings to readers, I'm sorry.

Open Thread


Talk about whatever you want, here.

Sin Fronteras, sin ética... y ojalá pronto sin dinero I

Los últimos años, Reporteros Sin Fronteras (RSF) se ha dedicado a trabajar cobarde y mafiosamente en contra de Cuba y Venezuela, dejando la ética periodística de lado cuando se trata de esos países. Igualmente, han ignorado casos de ataques a periodistas o cambiaron de postura cuando sus intereses políticos y económicos pudieron ser afectados. Sin embargo, esta serie de acciones podría terminar en los próximos días: RSF enfrenta una demanda de poco más de 1,400.000 dólares que podría terminar con el cierre de sus oficinas... y todo por utilizar ilegal (y suciamente) la célebre foto del Che Guevara tomada por el cubano Alberto Korda.

En este contexto, me parece por demás interesante revisar y repasar algunas de las acciones más conocidas de RSF y de Robert Ménard, su director, quien ha sido acusado de ser un agente de la CIA en varias ocasiones... esperando que el juicio que enfrentan llegue, creo que no está de más...

An Authentic Journalist in Haiti

A correspondent for a major United States daily newspaper, who just returned from Haiti, wrote me this letter today:

I'm glad to see you've opened the forum on the question of whether Aristide resigned. Well done!

Click "links/comments" to

What's really happening in Venezuela?

As most of us focus on the latest Narcocoup in Haiti, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez asserts his legitimacy and warns the US away from futher intervention.

A new buzz - Political Betrayal Trauma

Having more reason, than time to focus on the myriad of feelings that comes with civil service and corruption, my brother's prison sentence lends me time to ponder, with 14 seemingly endless years and counting . . .

A common emotion rolls through each never-ending session; roars up, entwining with crushing force; surfaces again. It is absolutely underlying, cloying, persistent throughout. I find it in people and circumstance that still, years later, I'm forced to consider. It is the hardest issue to confront, reason enough to start notebooks, diaries or blogs, no doubt, the stuff made of madness throughout. It's an emotion, and also a human act.

AFP: Aristide Didn't Resign...

According to Agence France Press:

A man who said he was a caretaker for the now exiled president told France's RTL radio station the troops forced Aristide out.

"The American army came to take him away at two in the morning," the man said.

"The Americans forced him out with weapons.

"It was American soldiers. They came with a helicopter and they took the security guards.

"(Aristide) was not happy. He did not want to be taken away. He did not want to leave. He was not able to fight against the Americans..."

First newspaper to run with this is in Australia.

Now, his own foreign minister was on CNN earlier today confirming the resignation. But, come to think of it, we haven't seen any resignation letter, we haven't seen or heard audio or video from Aristide since he supposedly "resigned" and...

...that's exactly what happened two years ago in the first hours of the Venezuela coup. The press said the president had resigned, when he had been kidnapped.

(Thanks to Dennis Bernstien of KPFA Flashpoints Radio in San Francisco for alerting us to this report.)


Jamaica: Step Closer to Ganja Legalization

The Jamaica Observer
reports today:

The parliamentary committee that was given the job of reviewing the report of the National Commission on Ganja has recommended the acceptance of its proposal that the personal use of small amounts of marijuana be decriminalised...

We... sense that the mood in Jamaica is tolerant towards the proposed change... In this regard we expect that amendments to reflect the changes in the law will come to the House early in the new session, which starts in April...

The fact... is that to maintain the laws on ganja use as they currently are, would be to keep legislation out of step with popular sentiment and the society's instinct for justice and fair play.

The point is that Jamaicans, of all social classes, hardly view marijuana as a "drug" in the way they perceive cocaine or some other narcotic. Small amounts of ganja are culturally acceptable...

And that's the official editorial position of the newspaper.

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