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Fisking Giordano on Chile, Marijuana and the Free Market

In recounting the regrettable failure of a marijuana-decriminalization bill in Chile, Al Giordano erroneously targets the one ideological group that has always consistently defended and fought for drug legalization: libertarians.

Giordano’s attack on the free market is not surprising, considering his position on the far left of the political spectrum. And while one or two of his points are worth considering, in the end Giordano leaves us with an argument so baseless that it must for all purposes be considered intellectually and strategically worthless.

I offer up now a point-by-point rebuttal of the arguments made by Giordano, an otherwise fine person, using a blogging tactic known as “fisking.”

Journalist Fights Gag Order on Colombia Atrocities

Our colleague in Alabama, journalist and professor Stephen Flanagan Jackson, has gone to court seeking the lifting of a bizarre gag order imposed on Colombian miners, unions, and family members of those who were assassinated, in their lawsuit against the Drummond Company.

According to the Birmingham News, the gag order also censored the Colombian plaintiffs' Internet websites...

The gag order, granted in response to a request for it by Drummond, required the Colombian union and families to remove from Web sites information about the case, and links to other Web sites that contain the same.

Read the whole thing, via the link, above.


Venezuela: Oh, the Irony

I guess you could say what goes around comes around.

Después de octubre, los movimientos sociales se reorganizan en Bolivia

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: This breaking news story from Claudia Espinoza has now been translated to English and appears on page one of Narco News: )
El paro de transportes continúa; exigen el congelamiento de los precios de los carburantes y la nacionalización de los hidrocarburos.

Paros, marchas, bloqueos y cabildos marcaron la jornada del miércoles 25 de agosto en varias ciudades de Bolivia. La ciudad de La Paz, sede de gobierno, quedó totalmente incomunicada por el “paro movilizado” de los transportistas; la ciudad de El Alto marchó masivamente hasta la “hoyada”; los familiares de las víctimas y heridos de la “guerra del gas” exigieron el juicio a Goni; las marchas del Movimiento Sin Tierra que partieron desde Collana y Batallas llegaron a La Paz donde fueron reprimidas por policías y varios “sin tierra” fueron detenidos; en Cochabamba, miles de personas exigieron la Nacionalización de los Hidrocarburos en un gran cabildo realizado en la plaza principal.

Lessons from the Defeat of Chile's Marijuana Legalization Bill

The four members of the Constitution Commission of Chile's national Congress yesterday rejected a marijuana legalization bill sponsored by Senator Nelson Avila, who told the daily La Segunda that, although he'll keep fighting to change the marijuana laws, the bill now has little chance of passing on the floors of Congress.

"I will continue insisting on this change because our current laws, far from contributing to the eradication of drug trafficking, foment it because they obligate a person who smokes marijuana in the privacy of his home - which carries no penalty - to go to the mafias and cartels to procure it."

Senator Avila noted that he sought "to destroy the market for the drug mafias" with his bill, calling the current U.S.-imposed prohibitionist drug policies "profoundly wrong."

The decisión by Senators Alberto Espina, José Antonio Viera Gallo, Andrés Zaldívar and Mario Ríos to recommend the bill's defeat in Congress ought to be cause for reflection - and an adjustment in strategy - for drug policy reformers not only in Chile but across the continent...

Olympic Fraud by Chavez in Athens!

The Undemocratic Uncoordinator of Venezuela today denounced that Venezuelan weightlifter Israel Rubio's bronze medal in the Olympic Games in Athens is a gross example of another fraud committed by President Hugo Chávez. According to an exit survey by the New York polling firm Putz, Shinola & Boring for the impartial observer group, Chingate, it is statistically impossible for the Chavista Olympic team to get an Olympic medal because, as pollster Doug Shinola explains, "Venezuela hasn't won an Olympic medal in twenty years. Obviously, there was a gigantic fraud!"

Shinola accused Chávez of using oil profits to train this year's Olympic team, giving it an unfair advantage over other teams, and of buying off the countries of the competition's judges with cheap petroleum. He also noted the participation of "rogue nations" like Cuba and Lebanon in the same Olympic games. "If that isn't proof of a global terrorist conspiracy, what is?" shouted Shinola, banging his fist on the table, screaming, "Chávez must be killed! And I say that as an impartial pollster."

The results were further marred, claimed opposition leaders, by the suspicious disqualification of the original bronze medal winner, the Greek weightlifter Leonidas Sampanis, after he failed a drug test. "Of course, it had to be Chávez who slipped steroids into the Greek's drink," explained political consultant Eric Ecchhh. "Or is it just a coincidence that a Chavista was next in line?"

La Nación Camba habla sobre la coca

Entrevista con uno de sus principales portavoces, el arquitecto y escritor Sergio Antelo Gutiérrez

Desde su hamaca roja, Sergio Antelo me abrió el portón automático de su casa, la “única casa roja de Santa Cruz”. Me sorprende al entrar la escultura en madera tallada en forma de Tótem, la abundancia de vegetación  y cuadros de diversos estilos que adornan su luminosa casa. La mano del arquitecto se deja ver en este espacio del que casi no sale, si no es a visitar las obras en las que trabaja y a los compromisos relativos a su movimiento.

Desde su hamaca roja, acogedor e informal, Sergio Antelo contesto a mis preguntas durante poco mas de dos horas, en las que me dejo apreciar una gran parte del paisaje que concierne a esta nebulosa que es la Nación Camba, desde la génesis del movimiento y su propuesta, pasando por la Historia, las criticas, los cocaleros…hasta la delincuencia cruceña. Aquí se retranscribe la parte relacionada al problema de la coca en Bolivia y el movimiento cocalero.

Respecto a este tema, como respecto a muchos otros, es difícil saber con qué pie baila la Nación Camba. En este sentido, si Sergio Antelo parece estar de acuerdo con la lucha contra el narcotráfico orquestada por Estados Unidos, considera que la hoja de coca debería ser despenalizada. Además, aunque él tome mate de coca, el acullico “no es una tradición, es un vicio”.

Así, entre conocimiento, ignorancia y prejuicios, el discurso queda tambaleando en una profunda ambigüedad…

From Leaf to Blood

We have learned a lot about coca and the struggle to maintain traditional use in Bolivia in the past weeks, but what about the other side? What about the cocaine industry? How does coca become cocaine? How much is imported into the U.S.? How do the chemicals used to produce cocaine get from the U.S. to South America? Understanding this side of the issue is essential to understanding how to fight for the rights of cocaleros. More importantly, it is essential to expose the hand of the U.S. in illegal drug trafficking. Look for an article on cocaine production in an upcoming edtion of narcosphere or narconews.  

A State of The Narcosphere Report

As your publisher, I'm very, very, pleased with how The Narcosphere and the copublishers who make it run has performed in recent weeks.

The minute-by-minute, play-by-play coverage of the Venezuela referendum - both from our informational War Room in Caracas (thank you to Francisco Quintero and the tech support team at Cyber Ram on Av. 2a de las Delicias for letting us take over before, during, and after election day, and also our friends at, Z-Net, and Indymedia Colombia, Puerto Rico, and England, Forum magazine of Brazil, as well as Venezolana de Televisión, VIVE TV, and Radio Nacional Venezolana for hooking up in our permanent online chatroom, sharing information, and participating in our vision of "the informational war room" in Caracas) and from our copublishers spread across América and the world, and also the Lord High Webmahster and managing editor Dan Feder at his post in Bolivia to keep everything running smoothly - who, together, showed that the Authentic Journalism renaissance is an idea whose time has come!

Since the referendum results have been known, less than a week ago, there have been 18 Reporters Notebook entries on The Narcosphere by nine of our journalists, 45 substantial comments by our copublishers, plus seven Narco News stories by six journalists, not just from Venezuela but also from Bolivia, Colombia, and other lands.

Now that we are no longer at our "secret" Caracas bunker, I can tell some war stories from those unforgettable days...

Bolivia & Coca: Lindsay Interviews President Mesa

The hardest working man in English-language journalism from Latin America, Reed Lindsay, does it again.

His interview with Bolivian President Carlos Mesa appears today in the Toronto Star.

Here are some excerpts, below.

Read the whole thing.

Dissolving (La Paz, Bolivia)

La Paz is quickly morphing into Chicago. In Spanish. The cold nights, the rain, the smoky bars, upscale restaurants and the majority of the people ignoring the abject poverty around them is like any big city. But La Paz, and Bolivia in general, has a rippling undercurrent of true radicalism rare in American cities. A media center here in La Paz, an idea pitched by a few narco kids, would be ideal. It would be easily intergreated into society because La Paz has an infinite number of willing contributors. It would be devoured and absorbed by the youth looking for an outlet for their political causes and an inlet of true information. It could be the center of South American indy media.  

Michael Barone's Unconvincing Defense of Penn & Schoen

Inside the Washington DC beltway, one hand washes the other. Thus, it is no surprise that with the polling company Penn, Schoen & Berland being up against the ropes on its flawed methodology conducting an "exit poll" in Venezuela last Sunday, that a beltway insider like conservative columnist Michael Barone would rise to the firm's defense.

Barone, a columnist for U.S. News & World Report and the right-wing, won himself a "favor owed" from the polling firm yesterday with his column in U.S. News.

Of course, Barone has zero experience in Venezuela (does he even understand the Spanish language?) and goes way out on a limb in his ignorant presumptions… Barone crawled so far out on that limb, that it won't take much effort to bring out the fact-checking chainsaw and cut him back down into the sewers of beltway insider punditdom. Vroom! Vrooooom! Let's go…

Jimmy Carter's Report from Caracas

I'll say this about Jimmy Carter: He signs his own name on his election monitoring reports. This one is a beauty:

Venezuela Election Trip Report, Aug 13-18, 2004

By Jimmy Carter
19 Aug 2004

Carter's report offers a behind-the-scenes account of what really happened during the Venezuela referendum on the term of President Hugo Chávez. Carter met with Chávez, with the National Elections Council, with all the opposition groups, and with the Commercial Media, in private, and now he tells all.

Carter reveals...

  • The childish, paranoid, and anti-democratic behavior by opposition organizations and Commercial Media, before, during, and after the vote.
  • The unwavering willingness by Chávez to abide by the referendum results even if they had gone against him.
  • The willingness of the National Elections Council and the Armed Forces to abide by the 11th hour requests made by the Carter Center on behalf of the opposition in every case, and the compliance with those agreements during the voting.
  • The consistency of the vote tabulations from start to finish in favor of the "NO" vote (the vote to keep Chávez as president).
  • The fact that opposition group Súmate's own numbers showed that it knew it had lost the referendum (which makes a charade of Súmate's knowingly false protestations since then).
  • The absolute fairness and freedom in every step of this election process.
I'll publish the entire Carter Report here, for posterity. It's an important, and revealing, document as to what really happened in Venezuela this week.

J.J. Rendón's Sleaze-Art of Malicious Rumors

Behind the now-demonstrably bogus rumor that SmartMatic touch screen voting machines in Sunday's Venezuela referendum on the presidency of Hugo Chávez had fraudulently imposed a cap on anti-Chávez votes was one man only, and he is known in pockets of América as a siren of sleaze: Political consultant Juan José Rendón, a.k.a. "J.J. Rendón."

Earlier this week, the pale and pasty-faced "political consultant" appeared on the national TV channel Globovision in Caracas, not disclosing any client whom he was representing, waving ballot result pages like snake oil, charging that the existence of similar numbers of "YES" votes (anti-Chávez) votes indicated that the machines had been rigged.

From what rock did this slime-ball J.J. Rendón crawl out from? Narco News has found the dirt under that stone. Read on, kind reader, read on...

His rumor - libelous against the company that made the machines - was deflated this morning in none other than The Wall Street Journal; a periodical with a special hostility to Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, but that had nonetheless had the common sense to interview an expert in statistics before repeating a viciously untrue rumor that would later discredit any newspaper or person that passed it on...

Even Chávez Critics Admit: The Vote Was Clean

Here on Narco News, we have skewered the transparent attempts by various international players in recent months and years to take cheap shots at the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela and its president Hugo Chávez: New York Timesman Juan Forero, Organization of American States leader Cesar Gaviria, Venezuelan guerrilla-turned-opposition-journalist Teodoro Petkoff, the Wall Street Journal staff, and even the Carter Center's Jennifer McCoy have been deservedly lambasted here for their partisan anti-Chávez manipulations carried out in recent months with the imprimatur of "objective" observation or journalism.

That's why it is so convincing, today, that each of the aforementioned individuals and organizations now publicly admit, after carefully reviewing the process of last Sunday's historic presidential recall referendum in Venezuela, that the vote was fair and free.

Yes, all of them say that the hard evidence indicates nothing of election fraud, even Forero!

The irresponsible Venezuelan "opposition" is now increasingly isolated, as these former escualidos point out, due to its childish insistence that the scoreboard is wrong, the eyewitnesses are wrong, everybody on earth is wrong about the final score except them, the side that lost.

Here is a round-up of what Chavez's most extreme critics say today about the cleanliness of Sunday's referendum process and results...

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