The nations of Latin America
-- each standing alone before the US imposed war-on-drugs -- are
out-hollered and out-dollared, but not outsmarted.
"The badly informed North
American public," as one Mexican columnist terms the phenomenon,
has little idea to what degree the hemispheric "consensus"
that certain drugs ought to be prohibited has collapsed in recent
This newsletter relays what the Mexican and Latin American press
is saying about the drug war. Many of these stories will appear
to English-speaking readers as out-of-context to the media-driven
"consensus" within the United States regarding the
drug war. These stories are not reported in the United States
or other world powers: the very nations that pride themselves
on freedom of the press. Why not? Ineptness?
Intent? The imposed silence of a market-driven media? Each of
these ills is a factor and Narco News will take no prisoners
in afflicting the comfortable members of the Fourth Estate, one
at a time, for their role in the whole mess. Artificially created
consensus - based on untruths and lack of information - always
breaks. Each time it shatters, that fracture is called history.
The Narco News Bulletin does not claim objectivity: we
are out to break the manufactured consensus north of the border,
where the illusion that the drug war is about combatting drugs
remains the dominant discourse. In the South, as the stories we
translate and summarize demonstrate, a new consensus, based on
the reality of drug prohibition between nations and peoples, is
already under construction. The Narco News Bulletin likewise
seeks to comfort the afflicted members of the press who practice
authentic journalism. Latin American journalists (and a very few
conscientious gringos), living daily at the drug war front and
facing greater danger than the desk jockeys of the mass media,
are doing a better job at covering the problem than those who
have grown soft in the land of the First Amendment.
By alerting the English-speaking world to the work being done
by many Latin American journalists (American journalists,
Simon Bolivar might have corrected), Narco News aims to
force these stories - and more honest drug war coverage overall
- onto the docket of the US media.
Dream of Bolivar
Simon Bolivar (1783-1830) was
an historic figure akin to General George Washington of North
America. He, too, liberated a large chunk of America from colonial
rule. The country of Bolivia was named after him. The nation of
his birth officially changed its name in 1999 to The Bolivian
Republic of Venezuela. His ghost still rides.
Bolivar had a dream that the nations of Latin America would put
aside their differences and fight together against colonial invaders.
He also sought the support of conscientious citizens of the invading
nations to counter the imposed rule over the American hemisphere.
Narco News seeks to reawaken his dream. And although the
very lands where Bolivar fought - Colombia, Bolivia, Venezuela
- are plastered under the boot of US drug prohibition today, NN
places a special emphasis on another country: Mexico. As the first
issue of Narco News goes to... cyberspace (we don't own
a press, thus we don't claim freedom of it), the US Ambassador
has just tagged Mexico as "the world headquarters of drug
trafficking." Something is happening in Mexico that the officials
in Washington DC don't like. But it's not drugs: it's the gallop
of Bolivar's horse, pounding toward the north.
Focus on Mexico
The great mass of Latin American
citizens have no illusion -- unlike their US neighbors -- that
governments are sincerely fighting a war on drugs. The consensus-manufacturing
machines broke in the latter part of the 20th century: the violence,
corruption, collusion and dishonesty by State, media, banking
and other powerful sectors are all too clear to the great majority
of Latin Americans.
Latin Americans (Americans!) are not in favor of drug
abuse. The percentage of citizens in Latin American nations who
use or abuse illegal drugs is far lower than in the United States,
the great consumer nation. There is, in many parts of the America
that still dreams, widespread support for legalizing drugs and
managing the problem just as the United States legalized alcohol
in 1933. But not all voices are heard, and -- as in the US --
many simply do not speak. The threat of loss of aid by Washington
is shouted annually at dissenting nations. The United Nations,
the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund join in the
threat of economic collapse toward any smaller nation that does
not tow the prohibition line. And, as Colombia endures today,
there is always the specter of superpower military invasion.
Mexico, unique among American nations, has the power to call
Washington's bluff. The US blusters against Mexico daily, but
its threats are hollow. The US armed forces cannot invade Mexico:
the turmoil and economic damage that military intervention would
cause inside the United States would turn even US citizens
against their government. Nor can the US impose an economic blockade
or boycott against Mexico: Every time the peso falls in relation
to the US dollar, another million Mexicans stream over the border.
And immigration, for US politicians, is a far more deadly issue
The US press corps has missed the big story out of Mexico. A Mexican
drug legalization movement is, by whispers, assembling into a
critical mass. Its proponents understand what Simon Bolivar dreamed:
the movement will be multi-national, involving many Latin American
nations. History is in the making. And the "badly informed
North American public" is, until now, the last to notice
history's always surprising wave.
to our Dream
Narco News is a strange title, we agree.
"Narco," because that's what Spanish-speaking Americans
call the illegal drug trade: The Narco. Its English roots
have to do with the word "sleep." We are living the
drug war nightmare because of a slumber imposed by the badly-informing
"News" implies that something new is being said. The
Narco News Bulletin's first task is to translate -- both
words and sentiment -- for the US public the news and analysis
that is being reported in Latin America, and in some pockets
of the US media yet ignored by the mass media. What's "new"
about democracy, dignity, sovereignty, or the dream of Bolivar?
Yet, if these ignored drug war stories were to begin to be published
and analyzed inside the United States, well, that would
From a somewhere in a country
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