All Notebook Entries

  • Venezuela: Who is the Proletariat?

    Currently, in Venezuela, in Latin America, for the sake of independent, authentic journalism, in the daily process of deepening the Bolivarian Revolution, of educating ourselves, and our compatriots, praxical precision and theoretical incision in our popular "missions" and universities have become top priorities.

    Always the New, the Original and the Authentic logically necessitate corresponding concepts and notions. Furthermore, in a virulent revolutionary atmosphere, the social contents of concepts like the "workers", the "working classes", "revolution", "proletariat",  "process", "democracy" or "ideology" permanently change.

  • Nothing is authentic about this CBS journalism moment

    I can tell you that my sources, including some with ties to the intelligence community who have experience in such matters, contend that this whole CBS/Bill Burkett affair smells like a classic sting right out of the playbook of Karl Rove, the man behind the controls of the George W. Bush re-election video game.

    CBS is on the ropes right now over airing a story based on documents critical of Bush’s National Guard service, documents that now appear to be forgeries. The documents were leaked to CBS by Burkett, who has previously claimed that Bush operatives orchestrated the destruction of National Guard records that reflected poorly on the president.

    Remember the Mike Horner case, where CBS in 1997 fell for forged documents from a U.S. Customs whistleblower? Most of what Horner was saying at the time was true, my sources contend. The problem was that Horner couldn’t handle the heat in the kitchen anymore, and so he did fabricate a memo to advance his story.

    In 2000, Mr. Horner admitted he forged the memo "for media exposure" and was sentenced to 10 months in federal prison.

    ... In 1999 Leslie Stahl read an apology on the air: "We have concluded we were deceived, and ultimately, so were you, the viewers."

    That same scenario could be unfolding in the Burkett affair, true. But that assumes Burkett acted alone in fabricating the documents. Was he the lone gunman, or were their other players on this grassy knoll?

  • Save Everybody? The Ethics of Putting Friends Before Social Justice

    Some readers of Narco News don't want to save Tiberio, the School of Authentic Journalism's designated bartender, from jail in Italy.  Several have said so in comments at the Save Tiberio web site.  A loyal reader named Esteban has nothing against Tiberio but cogently blasts the priorities of Narco News:
  • RNC Protests Not a Success For Freedom

    Police kept demonstrators a block away from Madison Square Garden, the convention site, three nights in a row.  That is not a success for the protesters.  It is a downright failure for freedom.  It is a violation of our inalienable freedom to move, gather, yell, hold signs, speak, and sing where we want to.  This freedom is enshrined in the first amendment as "the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."  It is also fundamental in honored ancient religious and moral codes, and it is part of our first childhood understanding of freedom and fairness: if I'm not hurting someone else, it's all right.

    Hundreds of thousands of people over five days showed up to protest in midtown Manhattan during the Republican National Convention.  Unnecessary closures of blocks of streets around Madison Square Garden (under which is Penn Station), arbitrary prevention of movement even outside this locked down area, and unjustifiable mass arrests that put some 1,800 people in jail made impossible a free demonstration of disgust toward and rejection of the Republican agenda.

  • Black Op Radio Interview on Current Situation in Venezuela

    Interview with Franz Lee & Jutta Schmitt.
    SEPTEMBER 17, 2004.

    Entrevista en Inglés con Franz Lee & Jutta Schmitt
    La Situación Actual en Venezuela.
    17 de Septiembre de 2004.

  • Bolivia: a un año de la guerra de gas

    A pocos días de cumplirse un año más de la movilización de octubre, cuando un presidente fue expulsado por un pueblo que exigió a gritos y con sangre “Trabajo, educación, salud, justicia, igualdad y sobre todo nacionalización del gas”, se puede percibir que este gobierno perdió la confianza y la fe de la gente que echó a Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, y que ahora se organiza para demostrar a este gobierno que puede correr la misma suerte.
  • Gift DVDs and News from The Fund for Authentic Journalism

    Dear Friends, Colleagues, Supporters,

    Can you believe it?  Two thirds of the year are gone already.  And what an amazing year it's been for Narco News and the School of Authentic Journalism.  You've been reading the articles, listening to the radio reports and viewing the photography and video on Salón Chingón, so I probably don't need to remind you what this thing is all about and why we support it.  You know that already.  Instead, I just want to take a moment to tell you about our latest fundraising drive, how we got here and how we're going to take Narco News forward into many seasons ahead.  

    We started this year with nothing.  In a way, maybe it was worse than nothing because we were forced to raise the majority of our total budget in the early months of the year.  We needed to raise $60,000 to return Narco News to publishing and hold our fantastically successful J-school in Bolivia.  Thanks to the hard work and generosity

  • Another murder is linked to the House of Death case

    Narco News published a major exposé in late April (called The House of Death) that revealed an informant for the U.S. government was implicated in a series of murders in Ciudad Juárez -- located just across the border from El Paso, Texas.

    Between August 2003 and mid-January 2004, about a dozen people were tortured, murdered and then buried in the yard of a house in the Mexican border town. The informant, according to sources, participated in many of those murders.

    The informant’s handlers, agents with the El Paso office of the federal Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), were allegedly fully aware of the informant’s complicity in the murders, yet did nothing to stop the killing for fear of jeopardizing the cases that they were trying to make with the informant’s help.

    The informant, who goes by the nickname Lalo, worked for a drug trafficker named Heriberto Santillan-Tabares, who, U.S. prosecutors allege, is a top lieutenant in Vicente Carrillo Fuentes’ Juárez drug organization.

    Now it appears Lalo’s shadow is over yet another murder, this time on the U.S. side of the border.

  • What is Reporters Without Borders doing in Cuba?

    A revealing interview with Néstor Baguer by Jean-Guy Allard in Granma International may provide some important clues to the nature of Reporters Without Borders' activities in Cuba.  Baguer was president of the so-called Independent Journalists Association when he was hired by Reporters Without Borders, but he was also working for Cuban counterespionage services.  
  • "Super Coca!" A New Pretext for Drug War Funding

    A "scientist who advises Colombia's narcotics police" emerges from the forest and announces that he has discovered a new species… a "super" coca plant… gigantic, "towering over" normal coca bushes… with a more potent leaf, yielding more cocaine hydrochloride…

    Then, as a kicker, the drug war scientist adds a rumor, citing "unofficial reports," of the existence of an "herbicide resistant coca bush."

    Mind you, the Colombian government scientist doesn't have to say that these rumors are about the same plant (in fact, he does not go that far). But the gullible English-language news media already has the two rumored plants crossbred and in a feat that can only be seen as a kind of genetic engineering of news reporting.

    Sound the trumpets of public deception: "Super Coca" is born!

    Here is some kryptonite to throw on the rumor...

  • Carter Center: Penn & Schoen Venezuela Poll Flawed

    Jimmy Carter's first lieutenant Jennifer McCoy (who, as reported here, has long backed Venezuela's opposition-that-can't-shoot-straight, so can hardly be accused of bias against them) has now ripped into the flawed methodology of the Penn, Schoen & Berland "exit poll" August 15th in Venezuela, in the referendum won by Venezuela President Hugo Chávez...
  • Drug Policy Alliance Rejects Ford Foundation Money

    This is interesting... amp;l=52527

    The Drug Policy Alliance (an organization that has funded our project various times through grant proposals) has just turned down funding from the Ford Foundation because said foundation places bogus "anti-terrorist" conditions on its funding.

    The letter, at the above link, from DPA President Ira Glasser and Executive Director Ethan Nadelmann marks a turning point against abuses by funding organizations.

    The journalists here at Narco News are cheering this new development, which sends shockwaves through the philanthropic community, and Narco News urges all other journalistic organizations to follow suit visavis the Ford Foundation, and urges skepticism toward any organization that accepts said Ford Foundation money until that foundation revokes its unreasonable and counterproductive conditions on funding.

    I don't think this has ever happened before between major funding organizations.

    Correction: It ain't over 'til its over: Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance informs me that DPA is still in talks with the Ford Foundation: "We are still discussing with Ford whether they are willing to amend the grant language in a way that the dpa board determines is acceptable."

  • Bolivia: los desocupados se desnudan en la calle

    La gente en La Paz asiste a un hecho insólito: los cuerpos de los desocupados, desnudos y colgados en las puertas de una iglesia. "´Señor, sólo queremos trabajo...", dicen hombres y mujeres sumidos en la pobreza y la desesperación.
    Los efectos de las políticas económicas del neoliberalismo se sienten en la piel. En Bolivia, la tasa de desocupación en las ciudades llega al 14%, señala una organización no gubernamental.

    At the turn of the Third Millennium, among other global emancipatory attempts, two outstanding social revolutions mark the current globalized epoch: The South African and the Bolivarian Revolutions. Each one of them blazes the trail for trans-historic lessons that have to be dealt with urgently, by all permanent revolutionaries and emancipators. Concentrating on the South African Revolution, we will just spotlight the main social revolutionary issues at stake. Within our deliberations, the references to the immediate tasks of the Bolivarian Revolution, and the perilous, serpentine roads to tread, are obvious.

    Let us commence with the South African Revolution. Firstly, we have to unveil a few myths that surround Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki and the African National Congress of South Africa, in order to place the South African Revolution in its real, true historic context. Precisely, like in the case of Venezuela, the national and international mass media have painted a picture of the dynamics of the anti-Apartheid struggle in a totally distorted and manipulated fashion. In reality, the victory of the ANC is at the same time the victory of corporate imperialism in Africa.

  • Narco News Reporter Whitney Illegally Detained in New York

    AUGUST 31, 2004: Three Narco News reporters, in New York City's Union Square tonight, covering the protests in favor of regime change in the United States during the Republican National Convention, exercizing their right and duty to report the news, were encircled by the New York Police Department on East 16th Street: Teo Ballvé, Jennifer Whitney, and managing editor Dan Feder.

    Feder and Ballvé managed to escape from the police blockade on East 16th Street, but Authentic Journalist Jennifer Whitney - cordoned in with the Infernal Noise Brigade marching band - was taken into custody along with the members of that musical group.

    Narco News issues the following statement...

  • Friedsky's Motorcycle: Images & Words from Venezuela

    Narco News Authentic Journalism professor and photojournalist Noah Friedsky today offers 45 photos, with informative captions, from this month's historic referendum campaign in Venezuela.

    Friedsky, together with colleague Reed Lindsay, and often other members of the Narco News Team, crisscrossed the capital city of Caracas and the hills around it, spending five of those days in the poorest and most populous neighborhoods, listening to the people, learning about their new access to doctors, their volunteer labors to fix their sidewalks, engage in public works, map the makeshift homes that have sprung up over many years, and gain titles to their homes, of the availability of staple foods at below market price at state stores, of the the "missions" to feed the people, and of their hopes and dreams and attitudes about the Bolivarian Revolution and the process underway in this country of 24 million people.

    Friedsky also takes you into the "opposition" camp and their rallies, and follows electoral observers such as former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, former Colombian president Cesar Gaviria and former Costa Rican president Rodrigo Alberto Carazo as they monitored the August 15th vote. And of course, he and his camera offer an up close look at President Hugo Chávez from Miraflores Palace to the streets of the popular barrios...

  • Zapatistas Amend Laws on Trafficking Drugs & Immigrants

    Marking the first year since the formation of "Good Government Councils" in Zapatista territory, the spokesman of Mexico's Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN, in its Spanish initials), Subcomandante Marcos, issued an eight-part set of communiqués and progress reports to the national and international public this month.

    The communiques (plus translations of each to English by Irlandesa) appear on the newswire at Chiapas Indymedia.

    Of certain interest here is the 5th part, titled Five Decisions of Good Government, which is prefaced:

    During the first year of the Good Government Juntas, some internal accords were formalized, which were adopted some time ago now, and new decisions were defined. They have to do with conservation of the forests, drug trafficking, trafficking in the undocumented, the movement of vehicles in the regions and state elections for municipal presidents and the state Congress.

    Consistent with the historic call for indigenous autonomy by the Zapatistas, they do not propose "national" or universal policies to be applied to others: they simply wish to determine their own policies, whether drug policies, or on other matters. In some other cultures, "local autonomy" is called "home rule," the concept that laws and polices must be determined from the bottom, and not imposed from the top.

    Here's what they say about Zapatista laws regarding the trafficking of drugs and of persons...

  • The Venezuela Opposition Splits in Two

    Today, exactly two weeks after the historic August 15 presidential referendum in Venezuela - won by President Hugo Chávez with around 59 percent of the vote - the Venezuelan "opposition" is dividing into two distinct camps: Those who admit that they lost and are analyzing why so that they can live to fight another day; and those who still can't or won't admit it, at least not in public.

    Many members of the latter tendency, still accusing that an election fraud took place, but still unable to offer any convincing evidence - including the controversial U.S.-funded Súmate group - seem to be entering a genuine identity crisis. "Sumate is now cautiously saying that 'the numerical patterns found in the actas do not constitute conclusive proof of fraud' (El Nacional, Aug. 23rd, page A3)," notes anti-Chávez journalist Teodoro Petkoff of the daily Tal Cual in Caracas. And yet Súmate drifts deeper into its own stormclouds, as if on autopilot, still looking for that missing proof of a "fraud" that doesn't exist.

    Petkoff's own coming-to-terms with the new Venezuelan (indeed, new American) reality makes for interesting reading. Francisco Toro translated Petkoff's August 25th editorial...

  • Documents Reveal: Kissinger Authorized Argentina Terror

    Newly declassified documents at the National Security Archive (NSA) reveal that, in 1976, then-U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger gave the wink-and-nod to Argentina's police state to begin a wave of terror, torture, and disappearances of political dissidents in that country.

    The Guardian of London analyzes the impact of what Carlos Osorio of the NSA calls "a smoking gun."

  • 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.  

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