<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
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“Every Dollar Is Stretched as Far as Possible”

Our Inside View of the Narco News Road Team in Mexico


By Ellen and James Fields
Yucatán Living

February 1, 2006

An email came out of the blue: “This is Al Giordano. Subcomandante Marcos is coming to the Yucatan and we’re coming to cover the events. Can you help?”

Al’s timing could not have been worse, but since he wasn’t writing the Zapatista itinerary, we chose to overlook the inconvenience and see what we could do. Al and six of his “authentic journalists” were coming to Mérida – where we live – to cover “Delegate Zero” and “The Other Campaign.” What could we do for them? They would arrive the day we returned from our Christmas vacation, when our clients would be expecting us to work, our laundry would be dirty, our pets would be misbehaving, and our car would need washing. Yet how could we ignore this opportunity? We decided to do what we could and hope for the best.


The Alternative Media section at the Other Campaign meeting in Chetumal
Photo D.R. 2006 Ellen Fields
We offered them our guest room, our office to work in, and our car (with us as drivers) to ferry them around the Yucatan. As it happened, we also loaned them some of our video and computer equipment, helped them find hotel rooms with some of our clients, and threw in a few dinners and breakfasts for good measure. So this year we donated more than we ever have in the past to the cause of alternative media. And we’re just getting warmed up.

Why?

Because more than ever, what they are doing matters. Never before in our lives have we been so discouraged by the state of journalism and the quality of the news that we see and read from traditional sources. Never before have governments been so cavalier with their power. Never before have multinational corporations so easily trampled on more cultures, ecosystems and basic human dignity. And never before has Subcomandante Marcos come out of the jungle in Chiapas to bring the message of this struggle to every corner of Mexico.

Marcos’ Other Campaign in Mexico over the next six months, as Delegate Zero, is to listen to the voices of the “simple and humble people who fight.” The Other Journalists’ mission is to amplify these voices so that they are heard around the world, so that humble people in other parts of Mexico, Latin America and the world at large know that they are not alone and that someone is listening. And so that governments, corporations and their media outlets will hear them too… and hear that they can not be silenced.


Quetzal Belmont speaks with Subcomandante Marcos and adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle in Chetumal
Photo D.R. 2006 Ellen Fields
We like to put our money where it makes a difference, and having these “kids” on the road reporting about these events is making a difference.

We call them “kids” because they turned out to be about the same age as our grown children. They came from New York, Mexico City and Houston. They came speaking Spanish, English and even Nahuatl. They came on vacation from jobs and school. They came with impressive writing, editing, taping and listening skills. They came to discover what is really going on with Marcos and the Zapatistas, what is really on the minds of the Yucatan Mayans and what they can do to tell these stories to the rest of the world.

For three weeks, we lived, ate and worked with these authentic journalists. We watched Sarahy the videographer and Karla the radio reporter hop out of the car at each stop to interview men, women and children in the town square of a Mayan pueblo or at a construction site in Cancun. We watched Teo, a writer, listening and writing. And listening and writing. We watched Barrett, the video editor from New York, work all night and into the next day on numerous occasions to get a video ready for posting on the Narco News website. We were with them for three weeks as they gave up the conveniences of home to report on these stories.

And we noticed things: How our friends and clients (in whose homes and hotels they stayed) said they were a pleasure to have around. How they made the bed before they left each morning. How they washed the dishes in the kitchen. How they emptied the garbage, petted the dog, made the coffee, folded the laundry… how they did whatever they could to be good guests and good human beings.


Sarahy Flores Sosa doing lens work during Marcos’ visit with indigenous artesans of Chichen Itzá
Photo D.R. 2006 Ellen Fields
When there was a 6 am wake up call, they were there. Even if they’d gone to sleep at 4 am. They endured long car rides in the heat, interminable waiting, jostling from other “more entitled” reporters, hard beds and cold coffee without complaint. They never lost sight of the reason they were there and the opportunity they had been given to do what they are trained to do.

When Marcos held a meeting in Chetumal with the campesinos, he asked if anyone in the press pool was from the alternative media and called on one of Al’s authentic journalists, Quetzal Belmont, to speak for her profession. To a rapt audience, Quetzal explained how through print, radio and especially the Internet, their struggle would be reported, from below, to open-minded people around the world who were tired of government and corporate press releases thinly disguised as journalism.

If you, reading this letter, had been given the opportunity that we were given to see these kids in action, we know that you would have no problem pulling out your credit cards so that they can continue to cover The Other Campaign. You would understand that every dollar is stretched as far as possible.

Delegate Zero appears to be doing all that he can to improve the conditions of those without a voice in the political system. Authentic journalists are putting their skills and energy on the line to make a difference, too. You can help them by being an authentic supporter.

Please make your donation, of any size, today, online, at The Fund for Authentic Journalism website:

http://www.authenticjournalism.org/

Or, send a check to “The Fund for Authentic Journalism” at:

The Fund for Authentic Journalism
P.O. Box 241
Natick, MA 01760 USA

Sincerely,

Ellen and James Fields
January 2006
Merida, Yucatan, Mexico
www.yucatanliving.com

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