<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 #31

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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:
The Fund for Authentic Journalism

Site Design: Dan Feder

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 Three-and-a-half Years Miracle

Narco News to Suspend Publishing Indefinitely on October 18

By Al Giordano

October 10, 2003

In memoriam: Carlos Sánchez López (1954-2003)

Narco News regrets to inform our readers that your trilingual online newspaper will suspend publishing new reports on October 18, three-and-a-half years after we began reporting on the drug war and democracy from Latin America.

The suspension will be indefinite, it may be permanent, but the suspension will last at least until the New Year. We thank our readers and supporters who have helped to keep Narco News publishing non-stop since April 18, 2000.

Before explaining the realities that led to this decision, I’d like to say the following…

It’s been quite a ride. In these 1,275 days that shook América, we’ve witnessed, reported, translated, and participated in the growth of a visible drug legalization movement in Latin America where there previously was none. We’ve blown the whistle on attempted coups d’etat in Venezuela. We’ve walked side by side with, and reported from the fronts of, the growing social and indigenous movements that, from Argentina, to Bolivia, to Brazil, to Ecuador, to México, to Perú, to Venezuela, and elsewhere, have reawakened Simón Bolívar’s dream of a Latin America united against impositions from above.

During this marathon of Authentic Journalism, we also faced a billionaire assault by narco-bankers against our freedom to publish, and we won that historic case, from the New York Supreme Court, winning First Amendment rights not only for us but also for all Internet journalists.

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

We invited 30 Authentic Journalism Scholars from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Italy, Germany, México, Perú, Venezuela, and the United States, to receive training, gratis, through the Narco News School of Authentic Journalism: In a short time, many of these journalists have already emerged as important published voices throughout our America. Others are on the verge. That will be among our gifts that keep on giving.

Strange, but even as our readership and production of original hard-hitting Authentic Journalism continues to grow, there just aren’t enough resources, or even the promise of sufficient resources, to keep our Authentic Journalists in tortillas and beans, or to maintain the “safety net” that we have provided for them in emergencies.

Today’s announcement is not about money, but we can’t deny that the lack of it is a factor that clouds our usual optimism: Financial support for our shoestring operation, which traditionally has come mainly from good people and organizations inside the United States, is paradoxically waning at the same time that readership keeps growing. Our shoes got bigger, much bigger, but, essentially, we can’t continue to keep them tied on, and keep walking the expanded terrain, with the small scrap of shoestring available to us.

A related factor – and I say this with August 17th assassination of my friend Carlos Sánchez López still an open wound – is that to resume doing this kind of work as independent Authentic Journalists, we would first need to construct a better safety net for all of our reporters.

The Empire is getting nastier and more violent in its approach to the hemisphere, as can be seen most visibly in Colombia’s dirty and US-imposed Civil War, and in last year’s coup attempts in Venezuela. Washington and Wall Street are desperate to maintain the imposition of their prohibitionist, anti-democracy, and pro-looting positions, at any cost. The paradox is this: the closer we come to victory, the more dangerous the work for our journalists and the social movements that we cover. At the very moment that we urgently need to strengthen the “safety net” for our reporters on the front lines, that safety net grows weaker due to lack of resources.

Organizations and individuals of conscience in the United States often speak of how much they “admire” and “support” our work. Some really have been supportive. A few have been very generous. Others – including many of the largest self-proclaimed “human rights” or “press freedom” organizations – increasingly do more harm than good to the causes they profess to champion in our America; they’ve made our job, and that of others they claim to help protect, more difficult and dangerous, not less. I’ll have more to say about their behaviors, one at a time, at the inevitable moments when they will behave in harmful ways again, over at my personal weblog in the near future.

The bottom line: We have not succeeded in helping enough of our potential allies in the U.S. to understand the unique dangers and needs that our journalists and we face to practice this craft authentically South of the Border.

In the majority of cases, it’s not a matter of conspiracy or ill will, but, rather, a simple lack of consciousness or understanding that has led to a kind of “Solidarity LITE,” that, however well meaning and appreciated the intent, doesn’t get the job done. Although we have tried hard to educate potential “First World” backers of this work, we have not succeeded in getting the message across. Or, possibly, we have communicated our points very well and it just doesn’t matter to them. We don’t know what goes on in other people’s heads.

The Ethic of Authentic Solidarity

But we do have our own definition of authentic solidarity. Explaining this concept to otherwise enlightened people North of the Border, at times, feels like trying to explain colors to the blind. Our ethic: Any emergency faced by any of our journalists is an emergency faced by all.

We don’t send people onto the battlefield without providing the necessary backing. We learned that ethic from the Latin American social and indigenous movements that we cover. This ethic, in fact, is a key factor in what has made so many of those movements victorious. Meanwhile, similar movements in the developed world, where this ethic doesn’t exist, are stalled and feeble in effectiveness even as they are better funded. Although this ethic is something that can be learned, we have not succeeded in teaching enough people of the importance of maintaining that safety net.

We will try to explain our colors, now, with our silence.

We have a few more important news stories in the hopper that we’ll publish over the next week, but then it will end.

In our usual penchant for paradox, the end is not, exactly, an end: the Narco News archives will remain online… 31 issues, more than 800 original reports plus translations will continue to haunt the simulators and the powers they protect… We remain a favorite of search engines everywhere… Our truths will continue haunt, today, tomorrow, and the next day, the professional liars out there…

But there’s another reason we’ll keep the Narco News archives on line: So that somewhere in a country called the Internet there will still be an example of Authentic Journalism as we have defined it, and a record of the first days of the Authentic Journalism renaissance that we have been so privileged to live. Some youngster or youngsters, someday, are going to stumble across this place and they’ll figure out how to cause an awful lot of trouble, hopefully even better than we did. We leave behind much more than a monument or stone statue to three-and-a-half years of Authentic Journalism. What we leave, archived here, is a road map.

Ten Quick Announcements

1. Please hire these two good journalists: Luis Gómez and Dan Feder, without whose talent, hard work, journalistic ethics, loyalty, and humanity, Narco News would not have made it this far.

Luis Gómez, Andean Bureau Chief, journalist, graphic designer, strategist, translator, and the most competent editor and manager I have ever had the pleasure of working with, may be reached, starting October 18, at Luisgomez66@hotmail.com

Dan Feder, Webmaster and Journalist, translator, editor, whose skill at writing Internet “code” and designing websites can be seen throughout narconews.com, salonchingon.com and bigleftoutside.com, among other sites, may be reached, starting October 18 at dafeder@riseup.net

Give these guys the work and income they deserve. I offer them each the highest references for talent, competence, loyalty, and conscience, and will be happy to elaborate upon request.

2. I also recommend to you the fine Authentic Journalists who were our Contributing Writers; their good names remain on the sidebar to your left. Give them work, please, too. You won’t regret it.

3. The Narco News School of Authentic Journalism will hold its final session of 2003, at the October 31 to November 2 workshop, “Authentic Journalism, Latin America, and the Drug War,” at the Rowe Conference Center in Massachusetts, in the United States. For more info, see here.

4. Because no death should go uncelebrated or without a smile of remembrance for the good works done in life, the Narco News memorial party will be held at that workshop’s Day of the Dead ceremony, on Saturday evening, November 1, in Rowe, Massachusetts.

Entertainers David Rovics, Suzy Polucci, Court Dorsey, Lesley Smith, Mimi Whitcomb, Joshua Jay aka “the Waffleman,” and other grand talents of stage and sound, will be celebrating with us, and our newest Authentic Journalism scholars, there.

5. The new SalonChingon.com website will remain online and will continue to feature cutting-edge works by graduates, students, and professors of the Narco News School of Authentic Journalism, and perhaps by others, in the future. You can sign up for Salón Chingón’s free mailing list using this box, here:


6. The Narco News-Salón Chingón party originally planned for November 4 in New York City is postponed until further notice. Right now, we’re practicing triage in this MASH unit of a newsroom. We simply don’t have the resources to host it or even to guarantee our own attendance.

7. Narco News will publish no more news after October 18, at least through the New Year. We make no guarantee of ever publishing again at this Internet address.

8. I’m looking for work, too. My bank account balance is at 73 dollars and 66 cents. I’m broke and pretty much unemployable: without property, house, car, credit card, “health insurance,” unemployment insurance, savings account, retirement fund, IRA, or any of the other normalcy licenses that are expected of decent citizens in these pre-authoritarian days. I don’t complain. I never wanted any of those things. I’ve made a ton of friends on this road, witnessed so much immediate history, and collaborated with the best in producing great works for three-and-a-half years.

Of course, now I’m thinking about the many offers and gigs I’ve turned down since Narco News began. I was too busy with this worthwhile work to consider them. Might some of you repeat that question, please, while I’m not so busy? My email address, now, will be al@bigleftoutside.com

In the meantime, I am also, as of today, suspending all private media interviews, which, as my colleagues in the press know, I’ve always tried be generous in giving. Anything more I have to say about the rise and fall of Narco News, the drug war, democracy, Authentic Journalism, or any other topic, will, starting October 18, be written in public, for all to read, at my personal weblog, BigLeftOutside.com.

The Narco News comments forum suspends receiving new comments as of today. Any of your comments, questions, or suggestions will be entertained over there, in the BigLeftOutside comments forum.

You can request a free subscription to my personal mailing list by using this box:


I honestly don’t know how much or little I’ll have to say in public during the coming weeks and months, but we’ll find out over there at BigLeftOutside.com

9. The “canary in the coal mine” of Authentic Journalism, as I once described Narco News to Rolling Stone magazine, stops singing. It’s not dead, but it will fall silent in a few days. That ought to be cause for pause and reflection.

Unlike many news organizations or aspiring change agents, we never started this newspaper to be a self-perpetuating venture. There are certain illnesses in journalism and activism alike that breed self-perpetuation as the primary goal. We see it everywhere, in every cause and movement. Too many change agents begin with fire in their bellies only to become, later, bloated, neutered, and spayed, bureaucrats trying to hang on to a paycheck at any cost. That never was our show. We always did things differently around here. It makes sense that we now exit differently, too.

I’m not saying there’s no support out there. I’m saying, rather, that Narco News can’t go a step farther unless and until our troops – Authentic Journalists in Latin America – are better armed for the battle. I don’t see enough support out there to continue to sustain what we do already, including the School of Authentic Journalism and our trilingual reach, and to also add the talent that is immediately necessary to meet the tremendous thirst for the authentic news from all of the hotspots, increasingly hotter, of this hemisphere.

The support to maintain Narco News’ growth at the speed that matches our exponential growth in readership and organization is not, in our judgment, sufficient at present: We don’t even see it around any corner. And – no surprise here – I’m not going to become a businessman or, worse, a bureaucrat, in order to continue as a journalist, and so we’d rather exit with a bang than a whimper.

10. If you’d like to support my survival in this transitional period, or simply believe in leaving a tip after you’ve enjoyed sitting at our table, please feel free to lend a hand by making a check out to “LiveArt1st” and noting it “to support the work of Al Giordano.”

You can send that help, if you feel so inclined, too:

51 Macdougal Street, Suite 257
New York, NY 10012

LiveArt1st is a non-profit, tax-exempt, 501c3 organization that supports artists and writers. As I said, I’m not a businessman: the first “safety net” to fall here was my own. So any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

Still, if past is prologue, I’ll land on my feet. And I will do everything possible to maintain the Narco News archives online at this website. That will be the first priority for any help received.

But Might Narco News Reappear Someday?

The question on many lips, now, surely will be:

Q. Is it possible that Narco News might reappear online someday, stronger than ever?

A. Anything’s possible, but I just don’t see any way keep this project going given the current cards available to us. Suggestions for how Narco News could retain its authenticity and still be able to pay the bills, retain its non-commercial edge, and grow together with our readership will be entertained, selectively, in my weblog’s comments section.

The present is fragile. Therefore, constructing a better future is mandatory. It’s thus possible that the School of Authentic Journalism could continue whereas the newspaper does not: In any case, the J-School has moved: its new campus is over at SalonChingon.com.

So that the record is crystal clear: There is also no way that Narco News will ever reappear without retaining the same absolute editorial freedom we have achieved for the past three-and-a-half years. The newspaper’s good name is not going up for sale. “Narco News” has come to define a particular tendency in Authentic Journalism. It is not going to stray from that mission. Silence, in this case, is preferable to sellout.

We conclude, based on our experience, that achieving the aforementioned “objective conditions,” while retaining our non-commercial edge, is extremely difficult to impossible in this market-ruled world.

We never say “never,” but, for now, we say, “enough already.”

How to Stay in Touch

Any Narco News sightings or future miracles will be reported on our free mailing list, which, even while dormant, will continue to accept new subscribers at least through the end of the year. It costs you nothing to subscribe, and it costs us nothing to maintain the list. That part’s easy.

We will use this suspension period to reflect and discuss any serious options for coming back with a reborn Narco News; one retains the uncompromising integrity that has been our banner for the past three-and-a-half years. If, by the New Year, we haven’t found the “longer shoestring” to be able to walk such a path, then we won’t look back.

If there are questions or suggestions from readers and supporters about this sudden announcement, I will entertain them over at my personal weblog, where the authentic press conference begins today. Narco News has always remained “above the fray” of certain matters, and I’d prefer that it be remembered that way. The opinions that I express over there, although some may address the history of Narco News and the movements we covered, will not reflect the editorial views of Narco News, its writers, staff, supporters, or readers, but, rather, will be my own.

It’s been a pleasure, exposing and deposing many corrupt governments, inauthentic journalists, media organizations, and white collar narcos, and giving birth to the Authentic Journalism renaissance, especially in training talented members of a new generation to carry the torch.

The Law of Inverse Market Forces

There appears to be a law of inverse economy when a newspaper serves an ever-expanding international readership but also refuses to bow to the impositions of the marketplace; financial backers become fewer, or poorer, or just plain lose interest. That’s the reality in 2003. Capital and its unspoken laws have killed what narco-banker lawsuits could not.

I’ve got a First Amendment “right” to practice journalism from the New York Supreme Court, but not the resources to practice it. That’s how Tyranny works in our new century: the market is the new State, economy its repressive regime.

The choice for Narco News becomes whether to decay slowly or to exit with our dignity intact.

A slow decomposition of Narco News would quickly lead to my failing to meet obligations to our frontline journalists (something I’ve never done; they risk their lives on tough terrain to bring you the story, they deserve no less than full air support). When immensely talented and conscientious people work below the poverty line it would be a crime to see them jerked around over subsistence compensation. That’s not a crime I’m willing to commit.

That Narco News existed at all for three-and-a-half years was a miracle due to cracks in the system: Cracks that seem to be sealing now.

The only dignified path I see is to, alternately, go into exile while we’re still ahead and exit with dignity and our good name intact. The system makes its own cracks, and I’m sure we’ll find, together or individually, those cracks – or, at very least, create them – somewhere in America toward our shared goals of liberty, justice, authentic democracy and Authentic Journalism.

We’re proud of the work we’ve done and remain eternally grateful to our readers and supporters. The Narco News archives will, with just a little more help from some of you, remain, documenting three-and-a-half years of history. The future is, as always, unknown and unpredictable. And we leave room for future miracles.

Closing Statement: Two Words, Three Languages

Final two words, in our three languages, to our readers, the people who made the Three-and-a-half Year Miracle possible:

Muchas gracias.

Muito obrigado.

Thank you.

From somewhere in a country called América,

Desde algun lugar desde un país llamado América

De algum lugar desse país chamado América,

Al Giordano

Last Session for 2003:

Rowe Conference Center
Rowe, Massachusetts
October 31 to November 2
Learn more…

The Narco News School of Authentic Journalism moves to:


To support the work of Al Giordano:
51 Macdougal Street, Suite 257
New York, NY 10012

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