OF THE YEAR 2000
President Jorge Batlle
Américan Chief of State to Say...
A Breaking Story
from Narco News
The Narco News Bulletin
Name of Our Country is América"
President says "Legalize Drugs"
Batlle, First Américan Chief of State to Openly Oppose
US Drug War
In the past month, Batlle
said it twice in front of international correspondents and no
English-language media reported the news
Narco News Bulletin names President Jorge Batlle "Hero of
the Year" for 2000
December 22, 2000
By Al Giordano
Note: CORRECTION OFFERED BELOW: Spanish-language
EFE news agency covered the story on November 30th
if an elected president of an Américan nation called for the legalization
of drugs and nobody outside of his country reported it?
That's what happened twice in the past
month when Uruguay President Jorge Batlle called for other Latin
American leaders to join him in opposing US-imposed drug policy.
"If this powder was worth only ten
cents, there would not be organizations dedicated to make a billion
dollars to fund armies in Colombia," said Batlle, speaking
about cocaine policy on November 20th at the 10th Latin American
Summit of Heads of State in Panama City.
Batlle (pronounced baht-yuh) said
other countries must confront the question of legalization. "How
do you create the money that sustains all of this? Do you believe
that while this substance has this fantastic market value that
there is any mechanism that can impede its trafficking? How do
you make this product lose value so that nobody is interested
anymore in this business?"
The 72-year-old Uruguay leader, elected
in November of 1999 in his fifth run for the presidency, said
that the countries of América "must stop playing
games and treat the theme of drugs seriously at its root. And
if I am wrong, then why are we afraid to ask ourselves the question?"
Source: Terra.com News,
Montevideo Uruguay, November 20, 2000
fact, the legalization proposal of
Batlle has been percolating in Uruguay since June of this year.
According to the daily newspaper El
Observador in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, the president's
chief of staff, Leonarda Costa, floated the trial balloon on
June 16th. He said, "a line of discussion will be opened
among the Mercosur countries (Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, Chile
and Paraguay)" in relation to "the idea of legalizing
the consumption of drugs."
"Obviously, Uruguay cannot take unilateral
measures on this theme," said the presidential secretary
to Latitud magazine, adding that "the coordination
between nations" is necessary.
President Batlle told the weekly Brecha
magazine that he is in favor of legalizing drug consumption.
"When the president said what he said, he was expressing
his personal philosophy," said Costa. "But it is viable
to the extent that other countries also do it."
The chief of staff affirmed that there
would have to be a "generalized agreement between nations,"
and that, "the countries have to come to an agreement about
. The first thing to do is to make an educational
Source: El Observador,
Montevideo, June 16, 2000
the Brasilia Summit on August 31 and
September 1 of South American Presidents, Batlle worked with
other Mercosur heads of state - Ricardo Lagos of Chile, Fernando
de la Rúa of Argentina and Fernando Cardoso of Brazil
- to deliver the united opposition to the military aspects of
Plan Colombia, just two days after US President Bill Clinton's
Then, on October 17th, in Santiago de
Chile, at of the 56th annual assembly of the Inter-American Press
Association, IAPA, Batlle raised another question that CNN broadcast
without mentioning the context of his pro-legalization stance:
"Let's look also at where money is laundered," said
President Jorge Batlle of Uruguay, in a clear reference to the
banking system in the United States and developed countries.
His November 20th statement at the Panama
presidential summit went unreported, although many of the US
correspondents for major media outlets were present.
Then, on December 1st, Batlle traveled
to Mexico City to attend the inauguration of President Vicente
There, according to El Observador
in his home country, Batlle made his strongest challenge to US-imposed
drug policy yet. "The day that it is legalized in the United
States, it will lose value," said the president of Uruguay.
"And if it loses value, there will be no profit. But as
long as the US citizenry doesn't rise up to do something, they
will pass this life fighting and fighting."
Batlle, in Mexico City early this month,
compared the drug problem to that caused by alcohol prohibition
in the United States (1918-1933), saying that the drug trafficking
problem "will be resolved on the day that the consumers
announce that this cannot be fixed by any other manner than changing
this situation in the same way that was done with the 'Dry Laws'."
Of Plan Colombia, he said, "You have
to think about the origin of the thing. Basically, where is this
consumed? A minimum of 50 percent is consumed in the United States.
It seems fine with me that my friend Pastrana (the Colombian
president) tries to improve education, health and roads
but this doesn't resolve the problem."
And Batlle added that he has personally
proposed the legalization solution to US President Bill Clinton.
Source: El Observador,
Montevideo, December 1, 2000
Narco News Bulletin apologizes to our
readers, and to President Jorge Batlle, for our lateness in reporting
this major news story.
It came to our attention only last night
through a story out of Amsterdam, Holland, published in the NRC
newspaper on December 19, by reporter Marjon Van Royen, its Rio
de Janeiro correspondent. One of our correspondents in Amsterdam
translated a story for us that included one line about Batlle's
statement in a larger story about Plan Colombia. The Dutch correspondent
Van Royen wrote:
"The right-wing president of Uruguay
went even further in early December: 'Why don't we just legalize
the drugs?', Batlle was the first president in the world to suggest."
We immediately reviewed all the English
and Spanish language press in the American hemisphere for a mention
-- any mention -- of this major story. Only in the cited Uruguayan
newspaper and Internet publication did we find the facts. (At
Narco News, whether Batlle is classified as right-wing, left-wing,
centrist or no-wing, our view is that this is major news. Batlle's
call for legalization is a commendable act, the first by any
head of state, and his courage to say it makes history.)
Where were the US correspondents for the
major dailies and wire services when Batlle said this to them
and the presidents in Panamá last month? Did they not
consider this news? Or did they pre-censor the news knowing that
the home offices of the mass media would not report it? The US
Mexican correspondents were all at Fox's inauguration this month,
when Batlle said it again, and even more forcefully. They were
there. But they declined to publish this major story.
América now has its first elected president on record
as calling for the legalization of drugs.
Today, once again, we break the information
blockade from Latin America to the English-speaking world. That
we do this so often at Narco News is precisely why powerful forces
of the narco-system seek to eliminate us. And it is also precisely
why we will not go away. The US-imposed war on drugs can only
continue if the people of América are withheld the facts
about the present-day atrocity caused by drug prohibition.
In a few days, on Christmas morning, we
will announce which American person wins the dishonor of Narco
of the Year. That individual is the most revealing face of the
drug war in Our América, an atrocity that years from now
will be recognized as one of history's worst tragedies.
Today, on December 22, 2000, we make a
more positive announcement.
The Narco News Bulletin proclaims Jorge
Batlle, President of Uruguay, as Drug War Hero of the Year for
Batlle, by having the courage to say what
other heads of state know to be true but have been afraid to
say publicly, has made history this year. As we enter 2001, others
are now called upon to follow his shining example.
And we say to the US government - which
has sought to discredit and attack other Latin American leaders
who were not heads of state but who called for legalization the
only solution to the drug war atrocity - that we will be watching
and acting to protect the statesman Batlle's right to say legalize
The Narco-System knows that the drug war
can only survive through censorship.
It's latest crisis is presented by the
fact that we know it too.
From somewhere in a country called América,
Note: CORRECTION: Spanish-language EFE news
agency covered the story on November 30th
Narco News Bulletin regrets our error in reporting that "no
English or Spanish-language" press covered this story
learned, since publication, that the EFE agency published this
important story in Spanish. Saludos to the good people at EFE
who did their job.
May A Thousand