<i>"The Name of Our Country is América" - Simon Bolivar</i> The Narco News Bulletin<br><small>Reporting on the War on Drugs and Democracy from Latin America
 English | Español November 22, 2017 | Issue #36


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Disguised as Journalists

Malice in the Bolivian Media


By Luis A. Gómez
Special to The Narco News Bulletin

March 15, 2005

LA PAZ, BOLIVIA: As the legend goes, the correspondent’s eyes were wide as saucers. Working in Cuba for a famous U.S. mogul’s newspapers at the end of the 19th century, he had received an order to report on a non-existent war of independence on the island. When he explained his uneasiness with the order, the great media magnate (William Randolph Hearst) answered by telling the journalist to do as he was told. Hearst made things very clear: “You furnish the pictures, I will furnish the war.” And furnish it he did. Since then, the commercial media have dedicated themselves to lie, twist, or invent the news as it suits them, as they did in Venezuela several years ago. The same thing is happening in Bolivia…

In October 2003 the big commercial Bolivian media were already notorious for toeing former president Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada’s party line. While the government massacred people in El Alto, who could barely defend themselves from the bullets and tanks with their sticks and rocks, the newspapers and television stations, almost without exception, spoke of “confrontations” between the repressive state forces and the mobilized El Alto residents. “What confrontation?” a leader of the Tupaj Katari neighborhood, in El Alto District 5, once said to me. “Here, there was massacre, not confrontation. Here there was no war, there was resistance to those massacres.”

In that time, as now, the poor people stoned journalists, cameramen, news anchors, and cars belonging to the media. Last January, for example, this reporter saw how a journalist from the television station founded by Carlos Mesa, trying to pass through a blockade on the La Paz-El Alto highway, ended up in an exchange of blows and insults with the people. The car she was in did not get through. But she had a special weapon to use against the people that gave her an advantage: a camera. She and her cameraman filmed the El Alto residents as they insulted the station’s lies (“sell-out press,” “do better reporting,” and other similar expressions are common currency among the people here). And yes, the people became even more infuriated. The report that was broadcast about the event spoke only of aggressions against the press; the “aggressions” that corrupt journalist commit against the people every day in Bolivia were never mentioned.

In the last two weeks this has occurred again…


Two views of the demonstration in support of Mesa. In one the people are crammed together, and in the other we see half of Plaza Murillo empty, because the crowd was no more than a thousand.
Photo: D.R. 2005 Noah Friedsky
On Sunday, March 6, just after Carlos Mesa announced his supposed intention to resign from the office of President of the Republic, came a good example of how the media operate in Bolivia. That night, after giving his speech live on television, Mesa met with a group of supporters in front of the Palace of Government. All of the media showed a fervent “multitude” with Mesa, and almost no photo, no image, showed the size, the space that those representatives of the middle class giving their “strong support” to the president, occupied. Here we show you some of the images that Noah Friedsky took that night… You be the judges, kind readers, of whether that compares with the 40,000 El Alto residents who gathered the next day.


Click for larger image.
Photo: D.R. 2005 Noah Friedsky
During the civic strike ten days ago in El Alto, while inside the headquarters of the Federation of Neighborhood Committees of El Alto (“Fejuve” in Spanish) the neighborhood presidents were holding a general assembly, outside the journalists were yelled at, insulted, and asked to leave. The coverage of the El Alto mobilization centered, almost completely, on not reporting anything that revealed the forcefulness of the strike. A good example is the newspaper La Prensa, which on Tuesday, March 8, dedicated almost half of that day’s issue to the water conflict in the indigenous city. Every aspect was covered and discussed extensively… except for the giant El Alto assembly of the previous day, to which the paper dedicated a few lines, and published a small photo in the inner pages.

But there is much more to this… and now, in addition to their cheating and refusal to the events fair coverage, some media outlets have dedicated themselves directly to malice and slander.

Some “Data” on Soros

There is a magazine in Bolivia called Datos (“Data”). Its director, an obscure journalist who worked for the Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada administration, is named Carlos Rodríguez San Martín. Every month, in full color pages of fine paper, Datos touches some political issue, interviews some celebrity from the world of politics or culture… it is, basically, a magazine like any other, but less so because its circulation is so limited. Nevertheless, in this month’s issue, Datos No. 67, this “news medium” that Rodríguez heads, has published the results of an “investigation…”


Datos’ most recent issue. The cover translates to “The report that all Bolivians should read: What was not said about October. Who financed the October confrontation. Descriptions of their work and the mechanisms of control they have.”
In four pages, grouped together under the title “What Was Not Said About October,” an unknown author (none of Datos’ articles are signed) surmises that the October 2003 insurrection, which culminated in Sánches de Lozada’s fall from power, was at least partially funded by George Soros. How does that sound? The Hungarian-born financier, famous for his currency and stock speculations and for spending millions of dollars on anti-Bush campaigns, won the “first round” in Bolivia, acording to Datos.

Let’s look at the magazine’s arguments (whoever it may be who actually wrote them)...

First of all, Datos’ anonymous desk jockey says that while the legal proceedings against Sánchez de Lozada and his ministers are beginning, “nobody is questioning the social actors, such as political and labor leaders, who acted in open sedition against the democratic state of law.” The author then mentions the two versions maintained of the history of the El Alto uprising: that it was either spontaneous, or that it was well-planned and financed. In the case of the former, the author unsurprisingly speaks of the “violent confrontations with the forces of order” that provoked it. But it is while exploring the latter case that the author really spreads out his (or her) arguments.

The article’s second paragraph begins as follows: “Others maintain that there was instead an insurrection planned and financed from outside.” Which others? Well, one of the people who says this, and often, is Sánchez de Lozada himself, who, several days before leaving both his office and the country, was already accusing the social leaders of being financed by a foreign government. And he repeated such accusations not long ago in a column published December 19, 2004, in the Miami Herald, where he wrote that “at least seventy members of the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia)... were involved in the protests that forced my resignation.” No one offered any proof of this, and neither does Datos.

The Bolivian magazine declares that “Datos had access to classified documents that confirm that the head of the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS), Evo Morales, and his counterpart in the indigenous movement, Felipe Quispe Huanca, were financed in October 2003 by the magnate George Soros, a man linked to various NGOs which promote the legalization of the coca leaf that Morales defends.”

A major revelation, no doubt. And, we should think, an avid reader would need do no more than keep reading to find out the rest… but after this overwhelming and brutal claim, made in the article’s second paragraph, absolutely nothing on the issue follows until three pages later… in the article’s closing phrase: “Datos had access to documents that mention George Soros as the main partner in several projects in Bolivia, and that he has people here working for him in his companies.”

An attentive reader would wonder if Soros, doesn’t have just people, but also dragons, ghosts, and goblins working in his companies… and we would hope that they do their work better than the imbecile who did not sign this article. One might also note that between the first and second mentions of Soros in Bolivia there is an important nuance: the author goes from saying that Soros financed Morales and Quispe to saying that he is a major partner in a few projects… so, what was in between the two phrases?

Coca and LaRouche

Immediately after saying that Soros funded Evo Morales and Felipe Quispe in October 2003, the author of this article jumps into a summary of the content from a U.S. publication that has touched on the issue of Soros and his links to coca and Bolivia: the Executive Intelligence Review. This source cited in Datos’ “investigation,” which by its name alone seems to be a serious publication, is none other than the reproductive organ for the fascistic ravings of Lyndon LaRouche, the well-known fringe political figure who once, while fighting against Zionism, had the good taste to say the Holocaust was “a lie.”

The mentioned article, curiously enough, also talks about how Soros “wins [the] Bolivia round,” to begin the creation of a “drug empire…” but the Executive Intelligence Review text is not of interest to us for the moment. The important thing for this reporter is that LaRouche’s publication is the only real source for the Datos “report” that mentions the supposed influence of the financier in this country. But, despite what a bunch of lunatics LaRouche and his group are (just read the articles on their website), they never mention this supposed funding from Soros, although Executive Intelligence Review does discuss coca production (and coca growers) incessantly as something illegal and connected only to narco-trafficking. And Datos repeats this, without any further evidence. Nothing about culture, no data, nothing…

Kind readers, apart from all this, one should remember that the Datos article occupies four pages in the magazine. Everything we have looked at until now takes up just the first of these pages and then the article’s last four lines. Of course, the version published on the internet is just the first part of the article, and there are no photo captions. So what is the rest of the magazine filled with? Well, the text of the other two pages of the print version is dedicated to a biography of George Soros, without citing a single source.

A Few Photos…

Finally, aside from a box titled “X-Ray,” in which the magazine summarizes its version of George Soros’ public profile, the space this “investigation” takes up is populated, as it should be, by photos of a few celebrities: Soros, Evo Morales, Oscar Olivera, Roberto de la Cruz, and Felipe Quispe… But what catches one’s attention are the photos’ captions, and two especially.

The text under Evo Morales’ portrait reads: “The leader of the cocaleros (coca growers) is one of Soros’ key allies. Morales denounces political leaders and promotes illegal coca plantations.” And the text that accompanies the image of Oscar Olivera, who is mentioned nowhere in the articles, says: “Leader of the ‘Water War.’ Received a prize of US$125,000 from the Goldman organization on April 24, 2001.”

What is so strange about this?

Obviously, in Morales’ case, the magazine presents as a given the relationship between the MAS congressman and Soros. But trusted sources disproved this claim about the man from Chapare for us: Evo and Soros have never had contact, not even indirectly. Oscar Olivera’s case is even worse. Why on Earth do they mention this prize he received if they never mention his name in the “investigation?” The Datos “journalists” hope to link Oscar to Soros this way, as if the money he received from Goldman came right out of the financier’s pocket.

As you can see, Narco News readers, Datos’ people go out into the streets disguised as journalists in order to slander people – in this particular case, to slander social leaders. “Keep lying, and something will stick,” goes a saying… and at Datos they seem to follow that advise to the letter.

Saying that Soros funded Evo Morales and Felipe Quispe, with no proof other than LaRouche’s claims, is comparable to saying that, for example, the magazine run by Carlos Rodríguez San Martín is really owned by Carlos Sánchez Berzaín, Sánchez de Lozada’s strongman now facing charges for his role in the massacres of October 2003 together with the former president… and for whom Rodríguez once worked as press secretary. This relationship, between Sánchez Berzaín the butcher and Datos is vox populi among the journalists of La Paz. However, we are not going to get into that here… for now… but it is evident that Datos’ libel is playing with something more than simply misinforming people… and we will soon talk more about that.

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The Narco News Bulletin: Reporting on the Drug War and Democracy from Latin America