<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
 English | Español August 15, 2018 | Issue #30

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Al Giordano

Opening Statement, April 18, 2000
¡Bienvenidos en Español!
Bem Vindos em Português!

Editorial Policy and Disclosures

Narco News is supported by:
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All contents, unless otherwise noted, © 2000-2011 Al Giordano

The trademarks "Narco News," "The Narco News Bulletin," "School of Authentic Journalism," "Narco News TV" and NNTV © 2000-2011 Al Giordano


The Traffic Grows Stronger

Al Giordano warns that the Brazilian anti-drug policy, inspired by the USA, is ineffective and aggravates the violence

By Wálter Fanganiello Maierovitch
Translated from CartaCapital magazine in Brazil

June 29, 2003

Publisher’s note: I recently went to see Brazil’s first drug czar, Walter Maierovitch (who Luis Gómez interviewed in October 2002 for Narco News) at his office at Brazil’s most respected and known national news weekly, CartaCapital (circulation 200,000 per week), where he is an editor and columnist.

I had wanted to update Gómez’s last interview with him. But the charming Mr. Maierovitch pulled out his tape recorder and got me to give him an interview instead.

The three-page interview is now at newsstands throughout Brazil. Here’s a translation with some corrections (i.e. the interview was conducted in Spanish, and certain words and names – the Boston Phoenix, Catherine Austin Fitts, Akin Gump… – have been corrected in this translated version).

– Al Giordano

The United Nations selected June 26th as the day of consciousness-raising about the phenomenon represented by prohibited drugs. On this date, every member nation of the UN reflects upon its works in the fields of treating drug users and reducing the demand and sale of drugs.

Wálter Fanganiello Maierovitch
Photo D.R. 2003 Al Giordano
One retrospective does serve to demonstrate the UN’s lack of success in this field. In June of 1998, the organization promoted a Special Assembly with the goal of pushing a strategy based on a slogan: “A Drug Free World – We Can Do It.” But still, the presence of drug money laundering in our international banking and finance systems rose from $100 billion to $400 billion dollars. Evidently, this strengthening of the economy augments the sales.

Five years after that Assembly, its results were analyzed in Vienna, last April 14-17. The result: The UN has failed in its attempt to impose a sole policy line that was inspired by the United States on all countries. Treaties were left aside by various countries. They resolved to seek their own paths and obtain better results when they free themselves from the United States influence.

At present, specialists try to find solutions for the United Nations. And reformist tendencies, moderate or conservative, promote intense debates and are succeeding in spreading their ideas. In Brazil, a little more than a month ago, surged a publication called Narco News (www.narconews.com/pt.html), with openly antiprohibitionist positions, and that recieves three million hits per month.

In the light of this good news in Brazil, CartaCapital interviewed the publisher responsible for Narco News, Al Giordano, who is a North American.

CartaCapital: And what is Narco News?

Al Giordano: Narco News is an international publication. This project began in 2000. I’ve been a journalist since the 1980s. I’ve published in the Washington Post, in American Journalism Review… For years I worked for the Boston Phoenix, a paper that won a Pulitzer prize… I’ve spent a lot of time in Mexico. I lived almost a year in the communities of Chiapas, in the indigenous communities there, that are bases of support for the Zapatistas. There, I did a lot of writing and thinking.

CC: What is Narco News’ position?

AG: Narco News has a strongly anti-prohibitionist position: we are in favor of the legalization and regulation of drugs to eliminate the criminal side of it, like what happened with alcohol in my own country. The United States, in 1933, again legalized alcoholic drinks and ended the liquor mafias.

CC: What do you think of the Brazilian drug policies and the Brazilian law that criminalizes the person who possesses drugs for his own use?

AG: First, the problem with the Brazilian drug policy is that we gringos took away the democratic right of the Brazilian people to decide that policy. This is a policy imposed by Washington. My position is, very simply, pro-democracy. The Brazilian People should be making Brazil’s decisions. The Brazilian people need to formulate a policy that serves their interests. I, Alberto Giordano, born in New York, am not going to decide this policy. But my team and I are giving information, sharing experiences, and accusing powerful interests. We have 26 journalism students all over América. In Brazil, Adriana Veloso and other Brazilian journalists are working with Narco News.

CC: How was the meeting that Narco News took part in last February in Mexico?

AG: It was the first Latin American meeting in favor of the legalization of drugs, with people from Colombia, Bolivia, Venezuela, Argentina, Peru, and of course, from Brazil. There were also many from Mexico, the United States, Canada and Europe, but this was the first meeting that had a majority of Latin American participants. From this meeting came many reports that are now published on Narco News.

CC: What do you think about the declarations of the ex-governor and (public safety) Secretary (Anthony) Garotinho (in Rio de Janeiro) in the sense that he blames the violence and the organized crime wave on drug users?

AG: This is a very fascist discourse. It is a discourse with a script that was written by the U.S. Embassy. It’s the same as George W. Bush’s discourse. After September 11th, W. Bush put advertisements on national TV during the North American Super Bowl, saying, “if you smoke marijuana, you’re supporting terrorists, kidnappings, violence, chaos.” I don’t know if Garotinho knows that he is being manipulated by the Embassy on this matter. Recently the gringo government reported that it is going to take these TV ads off the air. Why? Because their market research showed that this campaign made drugs more popular among youths. Young people are saying, “I’m going to smoke marijuana and be like bin Laden.” This is a demagogic discourse. It’s wrong and it’s dishonest. Garotinho is going to learn this the hard way, because he’s so wrong right now. And he’s making the situation in Rio de Janeiro much worse with this tactic of total war in the favela slums. This is going to cause narco-traffickers to arm themselves more, with more Uzis, to be able to defend their commerce more. The only news that we hear out of Brazil in the United States or in Europe is about buses being burned and this poor girl from (University) Estácio de Sá, who just came out of her coma. This is frightening the tourists away, and it is the government that is causing the terror in this sense.

CC: And what do you think about another declaration by Garotinho, in the sense that he can’t, right now, act against the narco-traffickers because the users, those dependent on chemicals, would cause a crisis of withdrawal throughout Rio de Janeiro?

AG: This is part of the grand myths about poor men and women, myths held by the middle and upper classes. This has always been a class-war discourse, saying that the poor person is naturally a criminal. That’s not how I see it. What I see is who is working in the restaurants, who is cleaning the streets, who is driving the bus or the taxis… It’s the workers, the poor… the honest workers. They’re not crazy or sick. They’re dignified people. But Garotinho’s discourse seeks to demonize the majority of people instead of the criminals.

CC: Why do the United States governments, since Nixon and with the exception of Carter (to be fair), invest so much in prohibition? Is there some economic, hegemonic, or interventionist, interest that uses drugs as a smokescreen?

AG: During the 1960s, during the Nixon era, the priority was to control the urban black community, in open rebellion after the assassination of Martin Luther King. The Black Panthers and other radical organizations appeared in the cities of the United States. A war was declared as a pretext to put pressure on the cities. Nixon used the strategy, this is all documented, of drugs. It was evil but also brilliant. He closed the Mexican border to marijuana and his very same CIA brought the opium from Vietnam, inundating the streets of black neighborhoods in the United States with heroin. With this pretext, came the repression against a crime that the very same government created, and, with this, they succeeded, it’s clear, in controlling the social movements. Secondly, someone in Washington had another brilliant idea, although it was also evil: This could be not just a pretext to control the poor of the United States, but also could be used to control neighboring countries like Mexico and all of Latin America, a great excuse to invade.

CC: And what more can you tell us in mapping these interests?

AG: We are now at the Third Phase. The First Phase was a war on drugs as an excuse for social control inside the United States. The Second Phase: the drug war as a pretext for social control in all of Latin America. We are now in the Third Phase. What has happened is that narco-trafficking grew mainly through cocaine. Then what to do with all the billions of dollars, and how to make so much money without getting caught? The industry of money laundering began to exploit the situation. This is the process by which someone who makes money illegally then makes it seem as if it was legal… and on that they pay taxes, to make it seem legal. Geopolitical Drug Watch in France estimated that, among the billions of dollars made each year on illegal drugs, 80 percent of the profits go to the bankers who launder the money as middlemen. The majority of the banks are North American and European. These funds have inundated the United States economy. We’ve published a series in Narco News by the former assistant secretary of housing in the first Bush administration, Catherine Austin Fitts, called “Narco Dollars for Beginners.” In her analysis, the New York Stock Exchange and the banking system in the United States are dependent on drug money as much as any addict depends upon the drugs. Garotinho’s logic asks what would happen to the drug addict if didn’t he have drugs? Instead of applying this to the user, maybe he should apply it to the banker: what would happen to the Stock Exchanges in the U.S. if it didn’t have this grand influx of capital from drug trafficking? The United States already does not have a productive economy?

CC: It doesn’t produce drugs?

AG: It only produces weapons, tobacco, movies and TV shows. The rest of the U.S. economy is imported. The drugs are an artificial support for the economy. The bankers know this. To be a Congressman in the United States, in the House or the Senate, one needs millions of dollars to buy ads on television; it’s not free there like it is in other countries, they have to pay. If you want to enter Congress, you have to be a super-millionaire or sell yourself to the super-millionaires. For example, when Banamex sued me and lost, it contracted a law firm in Washington named Akin Gump. It’s a Washington lobbying firm, the third largest on earth, and on one side of it is Democrat money and on the other side is Republican money. The members of Congress are the same, regardless of ideology, they are addicted to this money. Right now we already don’t have democracy in the United States: all the economic powers are part of this mafia. That’s how W. Bush stole the election from Al Gore. And not even Gore protested! The money behind Gore was the same money that was behind Bush.

CC: I would like to know some things about the document elaborated during the UN Assembly in June 1998, that was signed in that era by our current president, Lula.

AG: This document was brief but very clear. It’s available through our website. It says: The war on drugs and the prohibitionist policies are worse than the effects of the drugs. They ruin peace and tranquility, cause a lot of violence, harm public health and the health of young people, and are pretexts against democracy. And that’s why there has to be a new policy that is not prohibitionist.

CC: Lula and the former General Secretary of the United Nations signed this document, so did the mega-speculator George Soros. What is Soros’ position with respect to the legalization of drugs?

AG: He founded various efforts to end the prohibitionist policies and to encourage Harm Reduction, and he supports many organizations that support legalization. He helps finance the Tides Foundation that gives grants to fund investigation on drugs, including grants that we have received.

CC: What do you think about the presence of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the CIA in Brazil? The DEA came to Brazil with the military dictatorship.

AG: This is very interesting. Brazil is not a drug producing country. Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru, are the countries that produce the coca leaf, but not Brazil. What is the DEA doing here? The DEA isn’t here to impede drug trafficking to the United States. It’s here to buy police and military agents and construct a pressure machine to impede a democratic policy: it is here as an occupying force that is trying to exert political pressure. The work of the DEA is related to the monitoring of countries that produce cocaine and heroin. The drugs that come to the United States come through Colombia, Ecuador and Peru via the Pacific and the Caribbean, passing through Mexico. Brazil is not on this route. That’s different from the European interest because Brazil is in the corridor of drugs shipped to Europe, but not to the United States. Given that, there is absolutely no justification for the DEA or the CIA to be here.

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