Free Email List for Alerts of New Reports

April 18, 2002

Narco News '02

Authentic Journalism on the "War on Drugs" in Latin America

"The Name of Our Country is América" - Simón Bolívar

Reader Mail!

New York Times Writes to Jules Siegel

Narco News Readers Weigh-In on

the Media's Failed Coup in Venezuela

NY Times Admits:

"We Dropped the Ball"

Publisher's Note: Authentic Journalist Jules Siegel, who conducted the Q&A with Narco News published here last Saturday, wrote to the New York Times Editorial Board... and got a response.

We believe this is the first time in the history of the Gray Lady of 43rd Street in which the Times editorial board has admitted an error via email to a reader. It's the first one we've seen, anyway.

The letter from Gail Collins to Jules Siegel limits its mea culpa to the the "first Venezuela editorial." Only problem is, NY Times's second editorial wasn't much better, as noted today by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting and by syndicated columnist Norman Solomon. But, hey, it's a start!

The letter from the Times is followed by the letter by Jules Siegel that provoked it (way to go, Jules!), and then followed by lots of letters this week from our most important correspondents, the Narco News readers.

From: Editorial Board
Date: Tue, 16 Apr 2002 10:29:56 -0400
To: Jules Siegel (
Subject: Re: How does the New York Times Chávez editorial look today?

Dear Mr. Siegel,

Nobody should ever cheer the overthrow of a democratically elected government. You're right, we dropped the ball on our first Venezuela editorial.

Best wishes,

Gail Collins

Siegel's Letter to NY Times

To The New York Times Editorial Board:

I am a writer and graphic designer whose work has appeared in Playboy, Rolling Stone, Best American Short Stories and many other publications. I am a frequent contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle Book Review. I've lived in Mexico since 1981, in Cancun since 1983.

I am writing to you today to protest your unfair and inaccurate editorial on the situation in Venezuela. I ask you how does it look to you today?

Here's the blurb: "With yesterday's resignation of President Hugo Chávez, Venezuelan democracy is no longer threatened by a would-be dictator...."

As we've seen, Chávez didn't resign. Venezuelan democracy is threatened by a would-be dictator who dissolved all democratic institutions on assuming office illegally. Despite your accusations, it has never been established that Chávez's supporters killed any demonstrators. To the contrary, there is reason to believe that rightwing snipers were responsible for the deaths, many of which, it is now claimed, were Chávez supporters.

According to eyewitness Gregory Wilpert, a former U.S. Fulbright scholar in Venezuela who lives in Caracas, "there were three parties involved in the shooting, the city police, Chávez supporters, and snipers from buildings above." He says "most of the dead are Chavez supporters" and "the snipers were members of an extreme opposition party, known as Bandera Roja." In his account published by, he dismisses as "mythology" the claim that "Chávez armed and then ordered his supporters to shoot at the opposition demonstration."

Now Venezuela is on the brink of civil war. Police and soldiers are shooting at pro-Chávez demonstrators. Where is The New York Times now on these developments? How is it possible that you were so completely off-base in your news coverage?

I think that the Times really does have to review the way it covered this event and make some changes. I realize that the situation was chaotic, but if an observer in the crowd could come up with an entirely different version of what happened, you begin to wonder if the Times' correspondent was just watching it all on TV.

Or was it worse -- was he on someone's payroll? That's an ugly accusation, but the credibility of the paper is at stake. Is the New York Times an independent news source or is it somebody's propaganda outlet? I could offer you other examples of how your newspaper seems to run the official line instead of digging out the news. After a while, it really begins to look suspicious, doesn't it?

You might argue that there was no other interpretation possible, but the San Francisco Chronicle looked at the same events and came up with an entirely different conclusion. I am sending you their editorial below. I think it's well worth your consideration. I look forward to seeing what I believe is the world's greatest newspaper -- The New York Times -- examine its own policies and make the necessary changes.

Many thanks for your consideration.


"The Honesty and Integrity for

Which We All Should Strive"

Mr. Giordano,

I co-edit the Web site for the Annenberg School of Journalism at the University of Southern California and this morning I linked to your story about the coup attempt in Venezuela, which I found on Jim Romenesko's MediaNews.

Next month, I am graduating from the graduate program in print journalism, and your story made me realize how inadequate my quicky, two-year education has been. Although there have been vague rumblings about the fightening power of big corporate media in classes, nothing has ever been as terrifyingly articulate and moving as your piece was for me this morning. In one story, you perfectly illustrated the honesty and integrity for which we should all strive. It will certainly stay with me as a lesson that I so sadly missed in class.

As I did in some way with the link this morning, I will continue to spread your word. I am passing your story on to my professors in hopes of stimulating some much-needed discussion. Thank you again, and congratulations on your fantastic work.


Carrie Cunningham

"The Authentic Journalism Movement"

Just wanted to say:

Thank you for your reporting, and your links to others' reporting, on Venezuela in the past week (and before). It's been invaluable and a true inspiration.

I'm struck by the power of the grassroots in Latin America of late -- not only in Venezuela, but in Bolivia, where the people drove out a foe as formidable as Bechtel. Bechtel is building the U.S.'s largest power plant about 4 miles from my home here in upstate New York; would that Americans had the same gumption as Bolivians.

Maybe I missed it, but it would be great also to have links to sites about the Authentic Journalism movement on Narconews... That way others could follow your lead and read about how it's done.

Again, the throughts of a grateful nation of skeptics are with you tonight.

--Sam Pratt
Hudson, N.Y.

(former Esquire columnist, now a grassroots organizer)

"You Should Be Rejoicing" Over Coup

dear sir.

instead of complaining about the treatment of chavez and his gangster castro cronies, you should be rejoicing with the venezuelan people on the removal of chavez and his communistic regime. but obviously this concept is foreign to a left-wing journalist as yourself.

Matt Borg

And If Bush Tried the Same?

What kind of fantasy world do you live in?

More than 100,000 civilians from all walks of life protested in the streets of Caracas. Mr. Hugo Chavez tried to disinform his people by first curtailing all television coverage in the news and stating categorically that the strike had failed even though it was on its third day.

The people of Venezuela have spoken. They have deposed a murderer who didn't think twice to have his own people killed in order for him to stay in power. The Armed Forces did the responsible thing in arresting a murderer and holding him for trial.

If President Bush was to do the same thing in this country, I would hope that our authorities would arrest him and depose him immediately.

A Reader

Publisher replies: Uh, sir or madam, can you spell F-L-O-R-I-D-A?


"You Called It Right Again"

Dear Al,

You called it right again. Without you we would have no idea of what's going on. I pray for your safety and also I hope your web site does not get shut down like Michael Ruppert's Now it seems is off line. Bush Administration wants us in the dark and with ever diminishing rights.

Thanks, you are simply the greatest.

Doris Silva

"An Activist is Born"

Hello Al,

I was sitting in the university computer room and saw an adjacent screen with the word "Chile" as an "Unclassified Government Document" ~1970.

The student was doing a paper on South American issues. I told him that narconews has current South American news that you won't find anywhere else, printed out a recent narconews story and gave it to him. He thanked me and wished me luck and I knew another activist had been born.


Rock Around the Clock

Thanks for the great work Al et al

Congratulations on your two years.

You have indeed turned the tide, and are bring many people hope and joy in a sometimes ugly world. you have helped democracy and truth - talk about lofty achievements! YOU ROCK!! like the kiddies say! I passed your recent post "3 days that shook....." around and got some real thanks and found you some new fans.

may you have health and luck for decades to come!

Tim Kugel
Bethesda Md

The Revolution Will Be Uploaded...



I read your coverage of the Venezuelan coupe de theatre; it was right up there with the best of Jack Reed.

Narconews is proof that truth expands in a vaccum.

In the mean time, take care; solidarity in the struggle -- and we always knew the revolution would not be televised.


A Reader in San Antonio

The Nightmare Will Be Delayed...

keep it up. you may help hold off the worldwide, totalitarian nightmare for a few extra months.



Congrats on your two years. Grateful to have someone as dedicated as you speaking out.

Diane Warth

Keep It Up

great site.

keep it up.

i could say more, but you've heard it already. you're doing the right thing.



I am EXTREMELY worried! The U.S. State Dept. has told all U.S. to get out. My fear is that the CIA is planning more action against President Chavez, and that it wants no U.S. witnesses. And that furthermore, that they know that the action being planned will result in massive unrest that could pose a danger.

I am worried that the next step of their plan may be the assassination of Chavez. I pray for his safety, I hope he is well-guarded.

PLEASE, if you can, get the word out! Make sure the Chavistas are on high alert. This isn't over.

Rebekah Morrigan
Hinckley, MN

A letter of appreciation on

an auspicious occasion


Happy Second Anniversary, Narco News!

Narco News celebrates its Second Anniversary today and in just two years Al Giordano's crusade for authentic journalism is an unqualified a success story. Tens of thousands of people visit Narco News each day and why shouldn't they? Where else can you get the the kind of independent, insightful, unbought and unpaid for coverage that Al and his contributors provide from south of the Land of the Court-appointed Gringo?(Let's hear Lee Greenwood fit that in a song title! I'm proud to be a south of the Land of the Court-appointed Gringoan!)

A year ago Narco News had already become such a thorn in the side of the hypocritical drug warriors that Al was facing a major (nuisance) lawsuit intended to shut down NN and chill independent on-line journalism. Last December, the hunter was captured by the game when the suit against Al by the Bank of Mexico was thrown out of court. This set an important precedent protecting free speech for all journalists, not just co-opted corporate lemmings.

Since then Narco News has continued to break important stories and set and demand high standards for journalism. Don Hazen and AlterNet learned this last month when Al exposed bounty payments AlterNet was receiving but neither disclosing to, nor sharing with, its grossly underpaid freelancers.

Just this past week Narco News provided the most cogent and timely English language analysis of the Venezuelan coup. And don't be surprised if Al jumps out of Narco News birthday cake with yet another scoop from the country that turned the CIA into this year's biggest April Fools.

In two short years, Narco News has become a venerable journalistic institution. It couldn't have happened without the integrity, infectious enthusiasm and tenacity of Al Giordano, the man who has set the platinum standard for authentic journalism. From somewhere in América, Narco News has found its way into all of our hearts. Please read and support Narco News, the little website that packs a worldwide wallop!

With great love and admiration,

Barry Crimmins

Publisher Replies: The greatest authentic journalist of the 18th of April of '75 rode a horse and reported "The British Are Coming! The British Are Coming!" Political Humorist Barry Crimmins is our modern day Paul Revere.


From Panamá City

Great piece on Venezuela. Lets see if the mainstream media starts to report the news as its really happening.

A Journalist in Panamá

What's Goin' On?

It is so obvious what is going on in Venezuela just from reading the International Press Services that one wonders why the so-called Internet press has nothing to say. I'm talking about Counterpunch, The Nation, Cursor, Alternet, even the World Socialist Web Site. What is going on here?

A Careful Reader

Publisher Replies: I wouldn't put all those news organizations in the same basket. We know that Alternet is corrupted and unethical, but the others are weighing in splendidly now and I'm sure we'll hear more from them. Narco News was out of the gate first because this is our beat, we have the sources on the ground, and it happened in a language -- Spanish -- that we understand. Plus, we've been on red alert ever since Authentic Journalist Kim Alphandary predicted the coup in a February 20th Narco News story.

We're not the best, but we are the fastest when it comes to authentic journalism and accurate news reporting in English from Latin America. We're driving the story and authentic journalists from all those media organizations (minus one) are doing their part, too. We're working with most of them. Check out our links on the front page and in our Narco News White Paper, Three Days That Shook the Media. We are not alone in this, not by a longshot. Like we said the other day, a thousand slingshots brought this Goliath down to earth. We just had ours loaded and ready to go. We don't intend to put this slingshot down.

"What Can I Do?"


For my of my adult life I have obeyed the "law" and believed what I have been told by the powers that be but in my latter years I have come to understand what lies and crimes are committed by those in power.

People like you are rapidly becoming the only line of defense protecting the rights of individuals against corporate power whether in government or business (one might argue that they are becoming indistinguishable). As each branch of constitutional government becomes compromised people like me find that the truth can only be found in sites like yours. Please continue your work. What can I do to help?

Dan Hayes

Publisher Replies: Subscribe to our alerts list and spread the word far and wide with each report. It's the readers that give Narco News its reach. We are nothing without you. We're all in this project of Authentic Journalism together. Thanks for your kind words.


We Love a Journo Who Issues Corrections...

Hey Al,

You were right, Brian Jones is playing a sitar on Paint it Black.;-))

Guess I was mistaken. I'm watching on old video now, in which he blatantly playing a genuine sitar.


Preston Peet

Journalist, New York City

All Things Considered...

...He Likes Narco News


I was motivated to write you and let you know how grateful I am for your site and the dedication of all involved. I've been reading Narco News for a number of months now, and have been extremely impressed with everything I've seen. And the recent reporting on the coup in Venezuela has cemented my high opinion of your publication.

I gave up television over eight months ago, tired of incessant commercialism and the constant lies of the corporate news organizations. Even NPR is generally a great disappointment. While driving to work last week I heard NPR report on the coup, and one of their talking heads explained how Pedro Carmona was a good choice to run the country, and that he had "no political ambition of his own". Hearing that I couldn't wait to get home and get online and start searching for the truth I knew I wouldn't be able to get anywhere else. Narco News was my first stop, and I was not disappointed.

So, I just wanted to let you know that your efforts are greatly appreciated.

You are doing a great service for this planet.

Thank you for your courage.

Thank you for dedication.

Thank you for the truth.


Charles Balfour

Don't Stop

Thank you for your brilliant reporting of the events in Venezuela!

Don't stop what you are doing: you're making the world a brighter and truer place and you're helping me to keep believing in truth!


Rob Strang

"Insightful Writing"

You are due congratulations and thanks for your insightful writing and reporting on the situation the last few days in Venezuela. I plan to return to your site often, so as to become more aware of what is happening in Central and South America.

All my life I've dismissed upheavals south of the U.S. as the norm, never realizing "my" own country had anything to do with the situations.

I believe that if someone like me is becoming aware of the United States' true nature when it comes to the well-being of other nations, then many more U.S. citizens are becoming similarly aware. And it is through the efforts of your website and others that we are learning the truth. In time, we can hope, such a widened awareness will result in a change in U.S. policies towards other sovereign nations.

Many, many thanks,

Greg Olds
Austin, Tx.

Coverage RIGHT ON!

Yo Al,

Just got to say your coverage of the Chavez affair has been RIGHT ON. I could not believe when I heard the BBC, reporting Chavez had resigned, without a shred of evidence to the effect. What the hell is going on with foreign coverage? Is everybody just repeating the first wire story that goes out?

(don't answer-- I know...)



Shout Out from Boston


I love your site and info. I used to scour the Globe, Herald, and New York Times for small bits of real news on the world events that I now find routinely covered and updated frequently on your site. I stopped checking those papers a year ago when I found your site.

I manage a Boston based hard rock band. We are doing it ourselves but working with lots of the biggest names in the area. Bonescrew also focuses on politics and we consider ourselves renegade political activists.

I serve on the MASSCANN/NORML Board of Directors. Like other political bands before us, Rage Against the Machine being the most recent, we are finding our fans are knowledgeable and getting involved. An interview I just did. We link and shout out some great sites on our Bonescrew website and we have a bulletin board were fans post. Narco NEWS is linked and something we tell our fans to check out regularly.

One recent post was quite entertaining. It's title was "Hugo Chavez is the man!" Check us out. Let me know if there are any other websites you think we should direct our fans to.

I love what you are doing and look up to you for being a beacon of light. A role model on how to stay true while working among the large media corporations. Good to see you are back doing pieces in the Phoenix.

Thanks again,

Mike Crawford
Bonescrew Management

From Somewhere in the Mountains

of the Mexican Southeast...

Nice goin', Al. Don't give the bastards an inch.

A Friend

Forward Thinking

Hi, Al!

A million thanks for this piece of yours that I forwarded wildly!

Glad for your being there!


"Really Good Show"

Good work and a really good show as Ed Sullivan used to say in favor of cyber journalists who like yourself are not afraid to call a spade a spade,


from Panamá

The Home of the Brave

You are a true hero Al. Words cannot express the debt of gratitude owed to you and your colleagues by freedom-loving people around the world. You and the internet and the brave people of Venezuela have rendered their old strategies less effective. But the battle is not over. How will they respond? Likely with more lies.

At least you've got job security ...

Best regards,

Andy Seamans
Durham, North Carolina

Thank You for the News

Dear Sir,

I am from India, an engineering graduate.

After the coup took place I was very depressed. I came to the Internet after two days, and read 2 or 3 articles in the Internet on coup. Then there was a link to Narco News in Z-net. I clicked there. I was amazed to find out that the coup has failed. Thank you again for the great news.

You guys are doing great work. I express my solidarity with you.

in solidarity,

Ajit Hegde

For Free and Fair Elections

Your Venezuela coverage is just excellent.

As you well know I have little regard for socialism and its politicians.

But the US coup is just criminal.

People ought to be allowed to choose their own governments and so learn from the experience. Without responsibility there is no learning. The government ought to be the people's choice.

As long as a place has regular free and fair elections it's form of government ought not be of any concern to America. Barring military attacks on neighbors or America..


"Your Brand of Authentic Journalism"

Mr. Giordano,

Please allow me to say first that I am so very respectful and appreciative of your brand of journalism... authentic journalism. It is one of the few hopes I have left that there may be a way out of this disturbingly fast gloom that is spreading over the N. American news orgs. If they continue going the way they are headed, straight into the hands of those politicians that would be little-Hitlers, then it is difficult for me to see a way out.

When the populace itself has been blinded by the very instrument they've come to depend on to keep their eyes open, then the situation is all but hopeless. "The People" must see before any social movement can succeed.


"The Big Bully Can't Always Win"

I am so encouraged by this story. There is hope. The big bully can't always win. I am very grateful to you for authentic journalism.

Barrie Walsh
Halifax, Canada

"Until I Checked Your Site..."

Thought you might like to know: without your web page I - as someone who lives in the UK and watches the 'mainstream' news - would have had absolutely NO IDEA that anything was happening in Venezuela at all. I didn't even get the pro-coup NY Times version of events, I got nothing at all - the BBC seemingly did not bother to report anything, or if they did I missed it. My friend said she read about it in The Guardian (UK newspaper) but I was totally in the dark until I checked your site on Monday & discovered that it had all happened.

This kind of thing brings home to me what a desperate state we're in in the so-called democratic world and what a vital job people like yourself are doing:

Of course it took the people themselves to actually restore democracy, but without people like you there would be no hope for any of us.


"Good Piece of Work"

Dear Sir,

Narco News '02 was a god piece of work.

Kind regards,

Kalle Haegglund
Publisher, Hägglunds förlag

"Long Live Narco News!"

Congratulations! Proud to have you in the People's Army in the "War On Some Drugs!"

Your successes against Banamex, your accurate reporting of events and the stands you take all further the cause of freedom. Without people like you, us mud soldiers would have a tough time finding out what's going on.

Long live the Narco News!


"I Sent Your Articles..."


if just a handful of the people i send your articles to read & think about them it'll be a great thing.

thanks for the great work,

Louis Juska

"Great Reporting"

Great reporting, great site.


Bob Morris
Politics in the Zeros weblog
Political musings, California and otherwise

"The Media Renaissance"


Just like the first day I logged on, I find to be a tremendous inspiration. Two years ago today, the western hemishpere became a LOT brighter place, when your wellspring of Authentic Journalism began "breaking the information blockade" and showing, conclusively, how imperialistic and destructive and wasteful this damned War on Drugs has become.

May the Narco News-inspired Media Renaissance last for many years--until, one hopes, true justice, peace and cooperation (as opposed to the corruption, tyranny and greed we have now) become the new social and political realities in our America.

¡Féliz cumpleaños, Narco News!

¡Viva La Verdad!


Larry Goodwin
Freelance writer, from somewhere in the northeast of America

For More Narco News, Click Here

Subscribe for Alerts of New Reports

The Slingshot Army Marches On...