Help Protect Your Journalists at an Hour of Moral Crisis
From Bolivia to the Border to (Again) the OAS, History Is Being Made in América
By Al Giordano
Special to The Narco News Bulletin
June 7, 2005
This is an hour of moral crisis from Bolivia to the Border. Our journalists – your journalists – at Narco News are in the line of fire. Yet they are there, at the front, with smiles on their faces and a passion for reporting the truth in their hearts.
I know you agree, as we do, with the philosopher Dante Alighieri when he wrote: “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crises maintain their neutrality.”
Today I plead with you to not be neutral at this hour when authentic democracy and Authentic Journalism in Latin America are flexing their muscles at the very moment when the powers long accustomed to imposing their will on our América are losing their grip: No one is more dangerous than a tyrant when he realizes that the jig is up. And that makes this very hopeful moment also a precarious one.
To help us protect our journalists at this high risk moment I ask you to donate generously (and if you have already done so, to please donate again) to The Fund for Authentic Journalism.
In a moment I will explain just how dynamic the immediate history of our hemisphere is today:
- with Bolivia’s president resigning (this time for real);
- with the desperate and doomed efforts yesterday by George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice in Florida yesterday to retake control of the Organization of American States (OAS);
- and with the vicious campaign that bureaucrats in that administration’s “Homeland Security” department are waging to try and silence Narco News journalist Bill Conroy and his heroic whistleblower sources inside law enforcement agencies.
Each of these moral crises are part of the same uber-crisis: Authentic democracy on the rise in Latin America, and the decay of the old regime of imposing policies upon Latin Americans that is not theirs.
If you already know and understand what is happening – and I know that many of you do – you can skip my summary below and go directly to The Fund for Authentic Journalism website and make a donation online with a credit card via PayPal’s safe, encrypted server:
Or if you don’t have a credit card handy (or credit on it this month), you can make out a check to “The Fund for Authentic Journalism” and mail it to:
The Fund for Authentic Journalism
P.O. Box 241
Natick, MA 01760
Every donation to The Fund for Authentic Journalism, no matter how small, counts, and qualifies you to be a copublisher of Narco News with your own blog account on The Narcosphere, and all the other rights and responsibilities therein, commenting upon our reports and adding yours as well.
Now, let me please explain just how high are the stakes at this moment, and why, particularly now, your support is so important to our continuing work in breaking the information blockade…
Bush and Rice Encounter the
New OAS Pro-Democracy Buzzsaw
Yesterday, United States President George W. Bush and his Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice went to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to deliver lofty but worried speeches to the assembly of the newly independent Organization of American States (OAS, in its English initials).
It was the first OAS meeting inside the United States in 31 years, a fact that Secretary Rice noted when she reminisced: “The last time the OAS met in the United States, some 31 years ago, it looked a lot different than it does today. Of the 23 member states, 10 were military dictatorships.”
While taking that walk down amnesia lane, she and Bush kept mouthing the word “democracy” as if dropping the name of an important friend who they really don’t know that well. The irony was not lost on the Latin American delegates. There, in Florida (hardly a poster state for electoral “democracy” after the last two simulated presidential elections, rife with Floridian fraud, in the U.S.), Rice waxed poetically about the times of dictators but neglected to recall that every one of those tyrants was installed and forcefully propped up by her own government – from Chile to Argentina, to Brazil to Bolivia to Uruguay to Paraguay, where a Washington-authored plot named “Operation Condor” slammed the boot down upon South American dreams of freedom.
Even in the so-called “democracies” of that era, such as Mexico and Venezuela, the violent repression against authentically democratic and civil rights movements, the assassination of their leaders and journalists, the censorship of their press, the training of their military brass in torture techniques at the US’s “School of the Americas,” and the maintenance of keeping a few in power while the majorities suffered were the daily bread of U.S. policy.
Indeed, many of the same U.S. officials found today in the Bush administration, including key members of Rice’s own staff, were directly involved in the 1973 Chilean coup, the military waves of terror from Sao Paulo to San Salvador, the CIA-sponsored cocaine trafficking to form a slush fund for paramilitaries in Nicaragua in the 1980s… and yet there she was, speaking of once upon a time in América, as if her administration had any kind of authority at all to speak of “democracy” and instruct Latin Americans how to practice it.
The Latin American nations yesterday, at that Florida meeting, rejected the Orwellian vision of Bush and Rice, with their newfangled turn of phrases in which “democracy,” to them, means setting up new ways to impose their will upon the democratic aspirations of their neighbors to the South.
Countries that only a few years ago could have been counted on to back any U.S. venture in the Organization of American States – countries like Argentina, Brazil, Chile and even Mexico, which in this blessed year of 2005 has finally halted its lurch away from Bolívar’s country called América and stood together again with the South American and Caribbean nations – told Bush and Rice that they don’t accept their version of making impositions and calling it “democracy.”
And the new chairman of the Organization of American States, José Miguel Insulza, of Chile, rebuked the U.S. proposal to create mechanisms of force over individual nations. (Remember just a few weeks ago when the Commercial Media told you that Rice claimed to have struck a deal to elect Insulza, as Narco News alone explained to you that Insulza had been elected, to the contrary, to stand up in favor of Latin American democracy against the anti-democratic aspirations of the Bush administration?
If you missed that report, “Democracy Triple Play: Ecuador to Mexico to the OAS: the Smackdown of Condoleezza’s Agenda Came on the Week of Her Latin American Tour” (Narco News, May 1, 2005), here’s the link:
It should now be clear, again, which journalists were telling you the truth and which were not.) Insulza, in words as clear as the new day dawning in América, said aloud at the OAS meeting: “We can never use any mechanism without the consent of the country. If the states don’t want something, then nothing will be done.”
Or, as Brazilian Secretary of State Celso Amorim said, standing up to Rice and Bush at the same OAS session in Fort Lauderdale, boomed: “Democracy cannot be imposed. It is born from dialogue.”
Democracy Comes Down from the Hills in Bolivia
At the very moment that Rice and Bush prattled on in Fort Lauderdale yesterday, Luis Gómez reported to you from La Paz that half-a-million citizens from that nation had descended upon the administrative capital and shut it down cold.
Gómez was there – your authentic journalist, now three-and-a-half years with Narco News, and its acting publisher – in the streets, where a democracy from below surges upward even as it comes down from the hills of the majority who still live in earthen or cardboard shacks.
Gómez and our news team were with these multitudes that still struggle and worry each day whether their children will get to eat a dinner even as billions of dollars of nearby natural resources – gas, oil, mineral ores, agricultural plenty, and even their millenarian coca leaf and its proud traditions of struggle – are being siphoned away from their ancestral lands as a result of decades of imposition from above.
As Gómez described, much like John Reed or Charles Horman or Mario Menéndez before him once reported from other Latin American lands at hours of moral crisis:
“This morning there were more people in the streets than before, possibly more than ever before in the recent history of social mobilizations in Bolivia. Perhaps half a million people, perhaps more, according to the calculations of a leader from District 8 of El Alto.
“The public school teachers arrived earlier at the Plaza de los Héroes. Today is Teachers’ Day in Bolivia, and there were more than 30,000 educators in the streets. It was just after 10:00 in the morning and they went out alone to shut down central La Paz. A half hour later the two immense marches from El Alto arrived, one made up of the city’s southern districts and another from the north.
“The mineworkers’ federation arrived, as did the factory workers, the students, followed by the peasant farmers from the communities south of La Paz, and the neighborhoods from La Paz’s eastern slopes, which form the border with El Alto. They were all there, together with Aymara peasant farmers from several provinces….”
In the afternoon, the Mexican-born Gómez, alone among the foreign press corps in Bolivia, reported to you that Bolivian President Carlos Mesa “appears close to resigning.” Gómez reported:
“…according to a source within the Catholic Church who asked to remain anonymous, Carlos Mesa has a resignation letter ready and could present it, at latest, tomorrow night.”
Five hours later, by 10 p.m., Gómez’s informed prediction became a reality. And the next few days in Bolivia will bring the final confrontation between imposed power from above and authentic democracy from below: Today, Tuesday, June 7, 2005, the people are coming down from the hills again, and our team is (again) reporting it, blow by blow, here on Narco News and its Narcosphere. I already know, beforehand, where the fastest, most accurate, information about what is happening will be available. And I’m very proud to say it is at www.narconews.com and at narcosphere.narcosphere.com.
An Hour to Protect Our Journalists
But, kind reader, I would not be honest with you if I didn’t add that these are the minutes and hours when I worry most about the safety and security of our journalists: these moments of immediate history, when imposed power from above has its back against the wall. These are the kinds of moments when the violent coups of years ago happened. Because when authentic democracy advances, as it did in Venezuela in 2002 and 2004, as it did in Mexico this year of 2005, and as it bubbles up right now from under indigenous Aymara bowler hats in El Alto and the hopeful eyes of coca growers, miners, teachers, students, senior citizens, farmers and people in all the other hot spots of Bolivia, these are the moments when those who are losing power have historically become the most dangerous.
We all need – we being you and I and other members of Civil Society – accurate reporting from Bolivia this week. We need it like we need air and water and food, for authentic democracy requires not only a free press, but also a courageous press, to be able to function. “Without truth,” the Proverbs section of the Bible says, “the people perish.”
I write you from another part of our América, from the place where I am here clearing the brush for the permanent campus for the Narco News School of Authentic Journalism, a place with no phone line and no cell phone service (yet), but where I have just shimmied up a palm tree to install a satellite dish so as to be able to speak with you once again at a moment of truth.
And to be totally truthful with you – to tell you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth – I confess that right at this moment I worry about our journalists and about our América and about our hopes and dreams for a more authentic democracy and a more authentic journalism. Because, as everybody knows, we don’t have the millions of dollars that the corporate and institutional newspapers and simulator “press freedom” organizations have to protect their own, and only their own, commercial journalists.
Our coffers are low, too low, which is why I have had to shimmy up palm trees to get the word to you from the swelter here where it is 90 degrees in the shade, without an air conditioned office, without a company car (or any car), without any of the accoutrements that less-than-honest corporate reporters are provided. For we don’t spend your donations on such luxuries: we spend it thriftily, on just the truth, the whole truth… and getting the facts to you.
Luis Gómez and our team in Bolivia have none of those luxuries either. And yet day after day, hour after hour, they walk at street level tapping and adding to the surging power of the authentically democratic movements of real people who are making real history. They and we do this job free of the control by which the bureaucratic press flaks of Embassies and such that so effectively spin the dishonest “news” coverage by our commercial rivals.
We’re the new kids in town, in this hemispheric village, and the mere fact that we are here, that we have this international network of Authentic Journalists, keeps the feet of the commercial journalists to the fire, and keeps changing the outcome of the stories we cover for the better.
Our coffers are low, and yet we are battling on many fronts: today in Bolivia, yesterday in San Antonio, Texas (where the Hispanic Law Enforcement Officers Association has joined our crusade to protect journalist Bill Conroy and his brave whistleblower sources even as the corporate “press freedom” groups cower in silence). And tomorrow, I am sure, we will be fighting this fight still in both places and from other lands as well.
I write you urgently to invite you to strike a blow against false news and in favor of authentic journalism.
There is something very simple, but very concrete, that you can do right now. You can show our reporters who are doing these dangerous but vital jobs – and you can show the enemies of authentic democracy and Authentic Journalism – you can show the world that the honest journalists do not stand alone.
The most powerful way you can do that right now is to donate to The Fund for Authentic Journalism, the organization that supports them and us.
They are able to be there, from the Andes to the US-Mexico border to up this dirt road that is home to our future campus, because you and others have given generously already. (Indeed, although I make reference to our “future campus,” the 2005 Narco News J-School is, in fact, already in session, and has brought in its first scholar of the year who is working with us on an upcoming book: we’ll tell you more about that later, and soon, I hope, will be able to invite more scholars to Mexico this summer: but that still depends on you because the current crises and attacks on our journalists are stretching our meager budget beyond its means).
That you and others donated already makes this week’s reporting from Bolivia possible. It makes the defense of Bill Conroy in Texas possible. It will make the continued School of Authentic Journalism possible. But with so many fronts to fight at once, we still need more resources.
Not all of us can be on the hilly and tumultuous streets of La Paz, Bolivia today, but we are there through the work of our journalists. Share in the magic – and in the duties thrust upon us all – of an América reborn. Donate – right here, right now – to The Fund for Authentic Journalism.
Do it online by making a credit card donation (via PayPal’s safe, encrypted, server) at this link:
Or you can write out a check to “The Fund for Authentic Journalism” and send it to:
The Fund for Authentic Journalism
P.O. Box 241
Natick, MA 01760
Thank you, in advance, for your generosity and for your commitment to knowing all the true facts.
When you inform yourself through our journalism, and do your small part to keep the information flowing… the whole world is informed with you.
From the future campus of country called América,
President, The Narco News School of Authentic Journalism
Narco News is funded by your contributions to The Fund for Authentic Journalism.
Please make journalism like this possible by going to The Fund's web site
and making a contribution today.
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