Five Years in the Trenches
More Than Ever, We Are Waging a War of Information
By George B. Sanchez
Special to The Narco News Bulletin
April 18, 2005
“Trenches of ideas are worth more than trenches of stone.”
– Jose Marti, Our America
So the story goes: a man heads south on assignment into Chiapas. He never returns. Trades in his notebook and pen for a more immediate kind of weapon and enters the trench of traditional warfare. Then he is confronted by the privilege and talent he possesses.
He makes a decision, walks out of the jungle and into another.
Not long after, a manifesto appears on the net. It begins like this:
“The nations of Latin America—each standing alone before the US imposed war-on-drugs—are out-hollered and out-dollared, but not outsmarted.”
That was five years ago.
Now the moment we find ourselves at.
Under the impossible weight of a White House with the white knuckle resolve of arranging reality to its dictation, more than ever we are waging a war of information in the trenches of media and a relatively new form of communication: the Internet. In my young life of 26 years, never before has the moment felt so desperate. As a Salinas police officer once told me, shit rolls downhill. As follows the White House follows much of the municipalities in North America. In every corner of America, we are engaged in a daily struggle to elevate the truth above the bang and clatter of modern mediated life.
But at this moment, we must raise our glasses and make a toast in the face of the aggressor. There is much for which we are thankful.
As I write from an apartment in Salinas, California, hundreds of miles from many of my Narco News colleagues, we, together in our separate locations, find ourselves on the eve of the third anniversary of Venezuela’s great counter-coup. This celebration arrives not long after the indigenous and working poor neighborhoods of Bolivia slammed shut the back door of escape for President Carlos Mesa. In Salinas, we have fought to keep our libraries open an extra few months after they are scheduled to be shut down.
Yet amidst all the revelry, we find ourselves at a more intimate celebration: five years of Narco News. Five years…
The communiqués from Marcos and El Mallku, Felipe Quispe… the missives from reporters positioned through all parts of this America and even parts of Europe. The dispatches from the front line of Brazil’s struggle for a more just national drug policy and civil Colombia’s struggle with a Yankee imposed war on drugs. Eyewitness reporting on the battle for social and economic autonomy in Bolivia and illuminating summaries of the countercoup in Venezuela, as well as Giordano’s early work on the Yankee military presence throughout Latin America. Let us not forget the “Out From the Shadows” summit in Merida, Mexico only a few years back. All here; so vivid, so real, and heart-wrenchingly true.
Narco News has never been anything but honest about itself. This from its April 18th opening salvo:
“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 combating 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.”
The day this introduction was uploaded onto the web, Giordano fired his first shot across the bow of the reading, Internet-accessible public. It was a warning and a wakeup call.
The witness who chooses not to act is often just as guilty as the aggressor. As Arundhati Roy once wrote, no one is innocent, everyone is accountable.
So we find ourselves celebrating a trench we cannot put our hands on, but a trench where we can debate, discuss, communicate, and gather our thoughts. Narco News has carved out a space in cyberspace that has undoubtedly become one of the most reliable, honest reporting sites on the Yankee-imposed Drug War policy, Latin America’s continuing struggle for autonomy, and the carnage that goes hand in hand with both.
Born out of desperation, necessity, and the burden of truth from a witness with a writer’s hand, five years later, we find ourselves in much the same position that Narco News began. Well, maybe not. The ranks have grown, and with them the trench. A school exists where there was once one man, his cigarettes, and a computer terminal. A network exists where there were once only a few. We have each other.
As Henry David Thoreau wrote, “For it matters not how small the beginning may seem to be: what is once well done is done forever.”
Witness El Alto in Bolivia. Witness Caracas in Venezuela. Witness the Lacandon Jungle of Mexico. Witness Narco News.
Now listen to the words of Daisy Zamora, the Sandinista government’s first Vice Minister of Culture, second to the poet priest Ernesto Cardenal.
“Precisamente porque no poseo
Las hermosas palabras necesarias
Procuro de mis actos para hablarte.”
(“Precisely because I do not possess/The necessary beautiful words/I take from my actions to speak to you” -Ed.)
Some possess the means to action and others the means to communicate. Some possess both.
Now come join us in the trench. Carve your name into its walls and allow your voice to bare witness to the wretched reality that is sanitized daily for our consumption. Leave no stone unturned, no page unread, no key untouched.
Lea Ud. el Artículo en Español
Narco News is funded by your contributions to The Fund for Authentic Journalism.
Please make journalism like this possible by going to The Fund's web site
and making a contribution today.
- The Fund for Authentic Journalism
For more Narco News, click here.