Opening Statement

The American Nightmare


The nations of Latin America -- each standing alone before the US imposed war-on-drugs -- are out-hollered and out-dollared, but not outsmarted.

"The badly informed North American public," as one Mexican columnist terms the phenomenon, has little idea to what degree the hemispheric "consensus" that certain drugs ought to be prohibited has collapsed in recent years.

This newsletter relays what the Mexican and Latin American press is saying about the drug war. Many of these stories will appear to English-speaking readers as out-of-context to the media-driven "consensus" within the United States regarding the drug war. These stories are not reported in the United States or other world powers: the very nations that pride themselves on freedom of the press.
Why not? Ineptness? Intent? The imposed silence of a market-driven media? Each of these ills is a factor and Narco News will take no prisoners in afflicting the comfortable members of the Fourth Estate, one at a time, for their role in the whole mess. Artificially created consensus - based on untruths and lack of information - always breaks. Each time it shatters, that fracture is called history.

The Narco News Bulletin does not claim objectivity: we are out to break the manufactured consensus north of the border, where the illusion that the drug war is about combatting drugs remains the dominant discourse. In the South, as the stories we translate and summarize demonstrate, a new consensus, based on the reality of drug prohibition between nations and peoples, is already under construction. The Narco News Bulletin likewise seeks to comfort the afflicted members of the press who practice authentic journalism. Latin American journalists (and a very few conscientious gringos), living daily at the drug war front and facing greater danger than the desk jockeys of the mass media, are doing a better job at covering the problem than those who have grown soft in the land of the First Amendment.

By alerting the English-speaking world to the work being done by many Latin American journalists (American journalists, Simon Bolivar might have corrected), Narco News aims to force these stories - and more honest drug war coverage overall - onto the docket of the US media.


The American Dream of Bolivar

Simon Bolivar (1783-1830) was an historic figure akin to General George Washington of North America. He, too, liberated a large chunk of America from colonial rule. The country of Bolivia was named after him. The nation of his birth officially changed its name in 1999 to The Bolivian Republic of Venezuela. His ghost still rides.

Bolivar had a dream that the nations of Latin America would put aside their differences and fight together against colonial invaders. He also sought the support of conscientious citizens of the invading nations to counter the imposed rule over the American hemisphere.

Narco News seeks to reawaken his dream. And although the very lands where Bolivar fought - Colombia, Bolivia, Venezuela - are plastered under the boot of US drug prohibition today, NN places a special emphasis on another country: Mexico. As the first issue of Narco News goes to... cyberspace (we don't own a press, thus we don't claim freedom of it), the US Ambassador has just tagged Mexico as "the world headquarters of drug trafficking." Something is happening in Mexico that the officials in Washington DC don't like. But it's not drugs: it's the gallop of Bolivar's horse, pounding toward the north.

Why We Focus on Mexico

The great mass of Latin American citizens have no illusion -- unlike their US neighbors -- that governments are sincerely fighting a war on drugs. The consensus-manufacturing machines broke in the latter part of the 20th century: the violence, corruption, collusion and dishonesty by State, media, banking and other powerful sectors are all too clear to the great majority of Latin Americans.

Latin Americans (Americans!) are not in favor of drug abuse. The percentage of citizens in Latin American nations who use or abuse illegal drugs is far lower than in the United States, the great consumer nation. There is, in many parts of the America that still dreams, widespread support for legalizing drugs and managing the problem just as the United States legalized alcohol in 1933. But not all voices are heard, and -- as in the US -- many simply do not speak. The threat of loss of aid by Washington is shouted annually at dissenting nations. The United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund join in the threat of economic collapse toward any smaller nation that does not tow the prohibition line. And, as Colombia endures today, there is always the specter of superpower military invasion.

Mexico, unique among American nations, has the power to call Washington's bluff. The US blusters against Mexico daily, but its threats are hollow. The US armed forces cannot invade Mexico: the turmoil and economic damage that military intervention would cause inside the United States would turn even US citizens against their government. Nor can the US impose an economic blockade or boycott against Mexico: Every time the peso falls in relation to the US dollar, another million Mexicans stream over the border. And immigration, for US politicians, is a far more deadly issue than drugs.

The US press corps has missed the big story out of Mexico. A Mexican drug legalization movement is, by whispers, assembling into a critical mass. Its proponents understand what Simon Bolivar dreamed: the movement will be multi-national, involving many Latin American nations. History is in the making. And the "badly informed North American public" is, until now, the last to notice history's always surprising wave.


Welcome to our Dream

Narco News is a strange title, we agree.

"Narco," because that's what Spanish-speaking Americans call the illegal drug trade: The Narco. Its English roots have to do with the word "sleep." We are living the drug war nightmare because of a slumber imposed by the badly-informing US media.

"News" implies that something new is being said. The Narco News Bulletin's first task is to translate -- both words and sentiment -- for the US public the news and analysis that is being reported in Latin America, and in some pockets of the US media yet ignored by the mass media. What's "new" about democracy, dignity, sovereignty, or the dream of Bolivar? Yet, if these ignored drug war stories were to begin to be published and analyzed inside the United States, well, that would be news.


From a somewhere in a country called America,



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Al Giordano
April 18, 2000

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