May 23, 2001
Andrea Noceti Confronts Dave, Who Apologizes
Narco News 2001
spectacular insult led to an internationally
televised confrontation and an apology from CBS Late Night host
David Letterman to Miss Colombia and her country.
Earlier this month, joking about the recent
Miss Universe Pageant, Letterman touched off a storm of controversy
in Colombia that drew daily cries of outrage in the Colombian
media. Letterman quipped, ``I don't know if you've seen a beauty
pageant lately, but you know what's really gotten very impressive?
The talent competition... Miss Colombia -- and this was hard
to beat -- swallowed 50 balloons full of heroin.''
Andrea Noceti, the 23-year-old standard-bearer
of Colombia in the recent Miss Universe Pageant, then traveled
to New York - after the Colombian consulate complained to CBS
about the crack - and confronted Letterman.
"You hurt our feelings," Nocenti
told the TV host in front of 4 million nightly viewers.
"I'm terribly sorry," replied
"We have this stigmatized image of
Colombia with drugs and I think it's not fair for us," replied
Noceti, in fluent English, representing the hemisphere's second-oldest
democracy of more than 40 million citizens.
The controversy might have remained in
the realm of spectacle. But Colombian newspaper columnist Rodrigo
Pardo, of the top national daily El Tiempo, last week
put it all in perspective:
"If not for the seriousness and drama
that that the facts mean for the Colombian people," wrote
Pardo, "the most recent revelations about the commerce of
cocaine - and illicit drugs in general - could be considered
elements of a comedy sketch: an absurd comedy."
Statistics, cited by Pardo - "taken
from a French satellite contracted by the Colombian government
in order to have a trustworthy source" - showed that the
rise in coca plant production directly corresponded to the rise
in aerial herbicide spraying in Colombia: 143,000 acres sprayed
with herbicides provoked 145,000 acres of cocaine cultivation.
To Pardo, there is a "direct relation between fumigation
of cocaine and the size of the area where it is planted."
This reality, said Pardo, "has fomented
an evident skepticism toward the policy that Colombia has maintained.
And the specter of legalization seduces more influential sectors
Former President Alfonso Lopez Michelson
(1974-78), noted Pardo, proposed legalization of drugs in his
recent book-length interview with author Enrique Santos Calderon.
"Alternatives must be sought. Which ones?" asked Pardo.
And the columnist cast an eye toward the
"While the statistics weaken the
Colombian consensus in favor of a hard-line policy, the tendency
in the United States goes exactly in the opposite direction.
The Supreme Court just declared the laws of eight states that
permit the use of marijuana for medical purposes to be unconstitutional.
These laws were also passed by popular referenda. The vision
of the maximum court toward marijuana in this ultra-conservative
atmosphere that stems from the White House of George W. Bush
demonstrates that for many years to come there will not be the
environment to propose a different policy then that which is
being pursued. It is the strategy of 'the great failure.'"
"Colombia continues to suffer the
worst part of this multi-lateral flagellation. The guerrilla
and the paramilitaries have grown out of control thanks to drug
money. And there are reports that the consumption of drugs has
become a grave problem. For example, the report in Semana
magazine that ecstasy has become popular in the high classes
of Bogota. It's no surprise, then, that the abusive jokes by
Letterman against one of the few sources of positive image that
remains for us was popular."
The second oldest democracy in our América,
under attack by land, sea and airwaves, continues - unreported
by the U.S. press - inching toward the will to defy U.S.-imposed
The second shall be first.
And that's no joke.
Read Up on Legalized Bribery in Washington...
Colombia's Registered Foreign Lobbyists...
More Than Ever:
The Second Shall