Sign Up for Free Mailing List

Narco News 2001

"Chiapas Peace" Concert?

or Counter-Propaganda?

Julieta Venegas asks

"Where is this money going?"

Tijuana Rocker Julieta Venegas

"I sympathize with them (the Zapatistas), with what they are doing… because the fundamental cause is simple respect for a way of life, to live life in autonomy."

The Televisa-TV Azteca Axis:

March 3rd "Chiapas Peace" Concert

Cynical Ploy Against the Indigenous

By Al Giordano

Special to The Narco News Bulletin

February 18, 2001

From the beginning of the Zapatista uprising on January 1, 1994, Mexico's two television networks have been united in efforts to discredit, distort, invent falsehoods, and ignore the basic demands of the Zapatista movement in Chiapas and the indigenous cause throughout Mexico.

By the time negotiations were underway, in 1996, between the Mexican government and the Zapatistas, the coverage had been so distorted that scores of respected Mexican and international journalists signed a public letter criticizing both TV networks for their yellow and false journalism on events in Chiapas.

The television stations, after the December 22, 1997 massacre at Acteal, repeatedly obscured the fact that anti-Zapatista paramilitaries carried out the mass murder of 45 unarmed indigenous women, children and elders who were praying in a church for peace. "You mean to tell me," said one daily TV Azteca watcher recently, a taxi driver in Mexico, "that the Zapatistas were not the murderers at Acteal? Then why did they say that on TV?"

In February of 1998, TV Azteca hostess Lolita de la Vega landed at the Zapatista base community in La Realidad in a helicopter provided by the governor of Chiapas. The chopper broke the roof of the local schoolhouse, and damaged the sacred ceiba tree of the maya under which Zapatista subcomandante Marcos gives many of his interviews. With the full knowledge that international human rights observers had always encamped near the community soccer field, the helicopter touched down there. The international observers, startled by the racket, emerged to take video and photographs of the unannounced helicopter, as the TV Azteca crew filmed them. That evening, on national television, TV Azteca's de la Vega announced her "story." She claimed, at last, there is proof that the Zapatistas are led by foreigners, using footage of the foreign observers with menacing circles around their faces and special effects of arrows pointing to them.

De la Vega then cut to an old archived interview with La Jornada reporter Hermann Bellinghausen, implying that the blonde Mexican-born reporter on indigenous affairs was, himself, a foreigner. Bellinghausen's father had to write a letter to the editor to clarify, "my son was born here in Mexico." But the campaign of xenophobia and fiction posing as TV news continued.

TV Azteca, in June of 1999, fell into its own trap when Paco Stanley, one of the key personalities of the TV station's "Live Without Drugs" campaign, was shot dead and found with cocaine and a cocaine grinding mill on his person. Suddenly, the information about Stanley's links with high level narco traffickers, his own work as a drug dealer, and the laundered money trail of TV Azteca's purchase from the Salinas government ($29.5 million US dollars laundered by presidential brother and presumed drug trafficker Raúl Salinas) was uncovered by the Mexico City prosecutor's office.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan arrived to try to bail the TV station's destroyed reputation out, handing them an international prize for their "live without drugs" campaign.

Zapatista Subcomandante Marcos replied that "the UN has no credibility" for handing out anti-drug awards to "cocaine addicts."

TV Azteca film crews have not been allowed to return to the village where they destroyed the schoolhouse (and injured children in the falling debris) back in 1998.

So when, last week, TV Azteca owner Ricardo Salinas Pliego called a surprise press conference with Televisa owner Emilio Azcárraga Jean to announce the March 3rd "Chiapas Peace" concert, complete with Woodstock-style logo, and more than coincidently scheduled at the same time as 10,000 members and supporters of the Indigenous National Congress will meet with the 24 Zapatista delegates in Michoacán (all camping out for three days in an indigenous region), many eyebrows were raised.... Including those of the world-respected Brazilian political cartoonist Latuff...

First, because the TV stations announced that musician Carlos Santana would be playing with the Mexican groups Maná and Los Jaguares. (As of today, it's not clear at all that Santana ever agreed to do the concert). All three musical groups had, in the past, expressed their solidarity with the Zapatistas, as seen in the 1999 communiqué by Marcos published below.

Tomorrow, February 19th, the musicians of Maná and Los Jaguares have scheduled a press conference about the TV network sponsored concert, which claims it will donate the proceeds to a yet undisclosed project in Chiapas. (With 450 staffers working on the concert, one wonders whether there will be any proceeds to distribute).

What is clear is that the Zapatista Caravan to Mexico City has the TV networks scared: afraid of losing control of the microphone, as thousands of Mexican and international reporters will be covering the Caravan directly.

The polemic of the next two weeks regarding this concert should be interesting.

Read the history of the Narco Media and Mexican TV Networks on The Media Channel.

Narco News today publishes some translated excerpts relevant to the story, and will continue covering it in the coming days.

Salud y abrazo,

Al Giordano


The Narco News Bulletin

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 19 UPDATE: The Zapatistas are apparently not impressed by the "Concert for Peace." In a new communiqué calling a press conference in La Realidad for Thursday, February 22nd, Subcomandante Marcos stated:

"Once again we make it clear that police dressed as journalists will not be allowed to enter, nor, by decision of the community, those of the TV station that destroys indigenous schools with its helicopter (although it now does "concerts for peace.")

- Subcomandante Marcos

Rocker Julieta Venegas: "Where is the money going?"

Reuters, Feb. 16 MEXICO CITY: The Mexican singer Julieta Venegas declared herself a supporter of the Zapatista guerrilla of the impoverished southeast state of Chiapas, whose leaders will begin a march to the Mexican capital on February 25.

"I sympathize with them (the Zapatistas), with what they are doing… because the fundamental cause is simple respect for a way of life, to live life in autonomy," said Venegas in a recent interview….

On March 3rd, in the Capital, a surprise concert organized by rival TV stations Televisa and TV Azteca "in favor of peace in Chiapas" will be held, in which the rockers Maná and the Jaguares will participate.

A native of the northern border city of Tijuana, Venegas voiced skepticism about the good will of the TV stations organizing a concert and donating the funds to "a cause" in the state where the guerrilla is based.

"In my suspicious mind I say, 'Where is this money going?' They say to Chiapas, but where?" said Venegas.

The Televisa-TV Azteca Concert

By Florence Toussaint
Proceso magazine
Sunday, February 18, 2001

Last week in an unprecedented act, TV Azteca and Televisa announced that they will organize a concert in Aztec Stadium to raise funds for Chiapas.

"We still don't know what program we are going to give the money to," said (Televisa owner Emilio) Azcárraga Jean, but "it's evident that there are many needs and poverty in Chiapas," added (TV Azteca) owner Ricardo Salinas.

…The concert will be broadcast on all the channels of both businesses - without advertisements - and in any other national or international TV station that wishes to carry signal without paying anything.

As original and looters as always, the logo of the event is a replica of the 1960s, of peace and love, of Woodstock, of the hippies, the counter-culture. It only lacks a few marijuana leaves.

…Two rivals suddenly united and surprise us with their generosity. For the suspicious, the announcement is part of a grand strategy of counter-propaganda. The TV stations don't want to stop being the principal actors.

…The press conference was, in reality, a dialogue between deaf ears, as the businessmen did not respond to inconvenient questions. It was difficult. The behavior of Lolita de la Vega and her helicopter in a Chiapas community is still remembered. The reports "from the jungle" sent by TV Azteca reporters. The commentaries by (TV Azteca personality Sergio ) Sarmiento on the intransigence of the Zapatistas. For Televisa, the incongruent nature between reports like those of Ricardo Rocha on the conflict and the informations given first by Zabludowsky and later by other anchors about the 1994 uprising.

Also in the collective memory is the silence by both TV stations during a long period to try and make the conflict, and the attention of the viewers, disappear from the screen.

The Televisa-TV Azteca union provokes sarcasm:

The Concert for Chiapas

"More politics, just like always" - Fátima Fernández

By Columba Vertíz
Proceso magazine
Sunday, February 18th

The owners of the commercial TV stations, Emilio Azcárraga Jean and Ricardo Salinas Pliego, are not believed.

The panorama has changed, as they understand. Thus, the alliance of TV Azteca and Televisa for the "United for Peace" concert - to be held March 3rd in Aztec Stadium from 9 to 11 p.m. - has generated distrust, questions and doubts, even sarcasm.

The investigator Fátima Fernández Christlieb goes on the attack: "So that nobody ends up sucking their thumb: the television businessmen are playing politics, like always, but on stages never before explored."

The Chiapas poet Juan Bañuelos said:

"At the root of it, what the two businesses want is to continue administrating poverty. Also, it's meant to distract and manipulate public opinion."

Not to be outdone, the journalist María Victoria Llamas assures that these companies are not trusted because of the way they have covered the information about the situation in Chiapas….

On February 19th the musical groups Maná and the Jaguares will offer a press conference about the repertoire that they will offer in "United for Peace." Maná is still trying to convince guitarist Carlos Santana to perform...


Flashback #1:

"My heart is with the Zapatistas and Subcomandante Marcos"

- Carlos Santana at Woodstock 1994

Flashback #2:

Communiqué from Marcos to musicians of the world, February 1999:

Originally published in Spanish by the EZLN
Translated by irlandesa

Date: Moday, February 22, 1999



February 20, 1999.

To: Musicians all over the world.
From: Sup Marcos.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

Old Antonio used to say (who, if he had been a musician, would have played
the blues) that music opens paths that only the wise know how to walk, and
which, along with dance, builds bridges which bring you close to a world
which cannot even be dreamt.

This all comes to mind because we have received news of concerts and shows
by musicians in Mexico and in other parts of the world. Their purpose? To
promote the Consulta and to be in solidarity with the Mexican indigenous
and their dignified struggle.

We want to express our appreciation to all of them, and to those who have
had to do with those paths to peace, which criss-cross the planet from end
to end, most especially, but not only, to the rhythms of rock.

Nothing pleases us more than those who compose, sing and play. As well as
the producers, the sound people (is that how you say it?), the lighting
people, the stagehands, the drivers, the ticket people, the loaders, the
artists' reps, the local owners and administrators, and all the men and
women who have to do (and who, nonetheless, are not seen) with a concert or
musical show (often doubly volunteering, receiving neither money nor
credit). Thanks to everyone.

And now that we're into the "one, two, three, four," we want to salute all
those who musicians who, over the last five years, have played, are
playing, will be playing, for the peace with justice and dignity.

Everyone has called for an end to the war. Some have cut records, others
have participated in concerts, or visited the indigenous communities, or
spoken out in favor of the peace with justice and dignity, or protested
against the Acteal killing, or given us their instruments or dedicated one
or more tours to the struggle of the Mexican indigenous. Here are some of
the names (some of them escape me, but you already know how space
tyrannizes the written word). Sale and vale:

In Mexico: La Bola, Santa Sabina, Panteon Rococo, Maldita Vecindad, Sekta
Core, Makina, El Mastuerzo, Tijuana No, Jambo, Los de Abajo, La Nao,
Trolebus, La Dosis, Resorte, Guillotina, Estramboticos, Mana, Julieta
Venegas, Petroleo, Juguete Rabioso, Rotor, Funkswagen, Cafe Tacuba, Salario
Minimo, El TRI, Fratta, Botellita de Jerez, Serpiente sobre Ruedas, Los
Hermanos Rincon, Los Nakos, Ana de Alba, Leones de la Sierra de Xichu, Jose
de Molina (QEPD), Lidia Tamayo, Arturo Marquez, Nina Galindo, Nayeli Nesme,
Eugenia Leon, Hebe Rossel, the men and women from the National Music and
Conservatory Schools, the raza of the CLETA, and the not few
singer-songwriters who, in vans and buses, delight their audiences in
exchange for only "lo que sea su voluntad joven, senito, caballero."

In France, Germany, the State of Spain, the Basque Country, Italy, Canada,
the United States, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, and in other parts of
the world:

Negu Gorriak, Mano Negra, Hechos contra el Decoro, Color Humano, Sook and
the Guay, Joaqui'n Sabina, Joan Manuel Serrat, Juan Perro, Ismael Serrano,
Dut, Manu Chao, Hubert Cesarion, Ruben and Babakar, DKP, Ethnicians,
Pushy!, La Huanda, Sree, Denise, P18, Ghetto 84, Radio Bemba, Banda
Bassotti, Arpioni, Gang, Tupamaros, Klaxon, Radici Nel Cemento, R.D.E.,
Swoons, Another Fine Mess, Maltschicks, Dady Longleg, Jelly Gruel,
Mundmachine, Lunchbox, Caution Sreams, Kommerzinfarkt, KJB, Deh-kadenz,
Nervous, Ate Hands for Brains, The Evil Bad, Provisorium, Novotny Tv, Down
The Stairs, Rubabs, Daisies, Plattrock, King Prawn, Steven Brown, Nine Rain
y Tuxedo Moon, Tuxedo Moon, Paralamas, Xenreira, Planet Hemp, Fito Pa'ez,
Charly Garcia, Todos tus Muertos, Los Guarros, Divididos, Ilya Kuryaki anda
The Valderramas, Andre's Calamaro, Lumumba, Los Tres, Mercedes Sosa, Leo'n
Gieco, Daniel Viglietti, Vicente Feliu', Rhytm Activism, Rage Against The
Machine, Aztla'n Underground, Indigo Girls, Quetzal, Ozomatli, Jackson
Browne, Los Skarnales, King Chango', Sepultura.

We also know of groups and performers in Ireland, Greece, Nicaragua, Cuba,
Canada, and many others in Italy, the United States, the State of Spain,
France, Brazil, Germany and Mexico, whom we have heard about in the
mountains of the Mexican southeast, but whose music has not reached us.
There are many others who have spoken about us, have sung for us and who
have made themselves heard for us.

Thanks to all those musicians, men and women, who, in Mexico and all over
the world, have echoed the zapatista "Ya Basta!"

Once we have won, we are going to organize a super-mega-magna-hyper concert
for everyone, with no time limits...and free! (You're kidding! You're going
to end up playing only the San Jose marimba).

Vale. Salud and, doesn't the morning also arrive through song?

>From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos.
Mexico, February of 1999.

Meet The Zapatistas

Live Without TV