What other media are saying about...
Narco News Bulletin
From the April 20th, 2000
edition of The Boston Phoenix:
online guide to the alien, if not totally foreign, world of narco-politics
"A few years
back, former Phoenix political reporter Al Giordano walked away
from the world of the media disillusioned with the Disney-fied,
corporate-mergered, bottom-line-driven, commercial monolith of
phony consensus that he saw the free press becoming. After serving
some serious incommunicado time in Latin America -- with the
Zapatista rebels in Chiapas and elsewhere -- he'd pop out of
the woods, as it were, and offer the Phoenix an occasional report
on Latin-American politics. (See "Clinton's
Narco Pals" and
"Now Al's back
in force as publisher of The
Narco News Bulletin,
a Web site that promises to digest, interpret, and critique published
information from both sides of the Border on the failure of US
drug policy, internal Latin American narco-politics, and, perhaps
most important, the growing but under-reported drug-legalization
movements in Mexico and other Latin countries....
"Gringo Web surfers
may find narconews.com unfamiliar and disorienting. It's short
on cyber-gimmicks, long on the strident rhetoric of crusaders,
and full of things you probably didn't read about anywhere else.
Just the sort of thing the Web promised to deliver."
To read the entire
Boston Phoenix, celebrating its 35th year as as the last
independently-owned alternative weekly in the US, serves more
than 250,000 readers in the northeastern states of Massachusetts,
Rhode Island and Maine)
Critics Hail the Narco News Bulletin
conversation between Boston Phoenix senior writer and media critic
Dan Kennedy and Village Voice "Press Clips" columnist
From: Dan Kennedy
To: Cynthia Cotts
April 25, 2000, at 7:21 a.m. PT
in America, Cynthia--
point out, Cynthia, the erosion of Fourth Amendment rights is
intimately tied to our absurd "war on drugs." So let
me plug a project by a mutual acquaintance of ours, my former
Boston Phoenix colleague Al Giordano. Al has started an online
newsletter called The
Narco News Bulletin. Drawing in large part on the Mexican press, Al
will focus on narco-politics in Latin America and on the United
States' role in nurturing and perpetuating policies that are killing
people on both sides of the border. You wrote a nice column recently when Al was
squiring around Mario Menendez, the courageous editor and publisher
of Por Esto! It's good to see Al back in circulation, and I wish
To: Dan Kennedy
From the Drug Wars
April 25, 2000, at 7:32 a.m. PT
Dan,I didn't say you were insensitive. I was just trying to get
a rise out of you! It looks like we agree on Larry Tribe and Mario
Menendez, and even about the prosecutorial overkill that most
Americans (including Clinton) seem to notice only when it happens
to them. But why has U.S. drug policy taken a back seat in the
media this year--or rather, ended up in the trunk? I know there's
an obvious answer: No one wants to fan drug abuse, especially
politicians. But no matter how much money we throw at Colombia,
the white powders are here to stay...."
America Drug War Site Pulls No Punches"
newsletter to 15,000 subscribers)
Washington DC, April 28, 2000:
When Al Giordano left the United States
in 1997, he was a veteran
reporter fed up with the state of American mass media. After
years in the business, including a five-year stint as a radio
talk show host in Massachusetts and three years as a political
reporter for the Boston Phoenix, he packed his bags and
South. For two years he learned Spanish and picked up a few
He read the papers. He met with Latin
American writers who dare
to speak the truth about the devastation the drug war has wrought
on their countries -- voices that are threatened daily by their
own governments and others, but are utterly muted north of the
Border. "Latin American journalists have restored my faith
journalism to a great degree," Giordano, speaking from an
undisclosed location in Latin America, told The Week Online.
Now Giordano is giving North Americans
a chance to see their own
faith restored. On April 18 he launched NarcoNews.com, a web
site devoted to truth-telling about a subject about which most
us, even the better informed among us, are relatively ignorant.
With translations of Latin American news articles, Giordano and
his all-volunteer staff offer a glimpse of the perspective of
people who live with the consequences of the US-backed
international drug policies.
"The Narco News Bulletin was
formed because the US public is so
badly informed, not only on drug policy, but on a whole host of
Latin American issues," Giordano said. "This is largely
media's fault. Here in Latin America, where the corruption and
violence is very pronounced, there are journalists out there
every day. We want North American readers to get an idea of
what's going on on the front lines of the drug war."
If you're a faithful reader of this publication,
heard that there is a burgeoning drug reform movement in Latin
America. We got that story from Giordano. Some stories even
Week Online didn't bring you, courtesy of the first issue
* Por Esto!, the third-most-read
newspaper in Mexico, published
a four-part series on New York City and declared US drug
policy a failure.
* La Jornada, a Mexico City daily, unearthed evidence that
US -- not Mexico -- is the world capital of drug money
* Martha Chapa, a national media personality in Mexico, penned
an outraged critique of American drug war policies in Mexico
in La Crisis.
The stories are accompanied by relevant
links and commentary,
often directed against US news organizations that ignored the
evidence. "What we hope to do is force these stories onto
docket of the mass media in the developed world," Giordano
explained. "Part of this is giving a voice not only to Latin
American journalists, but to all Latin American people."
Narco News also
produces original news and regular features. The
current issue's "Narco of the Month" is US Army Colonel
Hiett, former commander of anti-narcotics operations in Colombia
and present defendant in a drug trafficking case. Giordano won't
tell who next month's lucky winner will be. "There are several
promising candidates," he said. For the sake of balance,
perhaps to offer a glimmer of hope, each issue will also offer
hero of the month. April's heroes are the environmentalists
Rudolfo Montiel and Teodoro Cabrera Garcia. Next month, the site
will feature a map of Colombia and a detailed, point by point
description of US military plans for that country.
Overall, Giordano hopes Narco News
will help pave the way out of
what he calls the "double discourse" forced upon Latin
who know very well the disastrous effects of US-backed policies,
but are nevertheless coerced into publicly supporting them. This
is one of the great hypocrisies of US rhetoric about protecting
democracies south of its border, he said. "What kind of
democracy is there if governments aren't allowed to pick their
own policies? Let Latin Americans speak for themselves."
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