The Narco News Bulletin

The Anatomy of Censorship

Special to The Narco News Bulletin June 3, 2000

By Al Giordano

Narco News has now confirmed: The censorship of the Burn web site by the University of California happened precisely because the students published communiqués from the FARC (The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia).

The Narco News Bulletin has obtained copies of the e-mail correspondence between university officials and the individuals who called for censorship of the site.

Today we publish those private e-mails so that all the world can see what kind of errors in thinking and dark human prejudices lead to censorship and drug wars alike.

To make it crystal clear who is speaking, the following report is color-coded:

Copies of the emails appear in black type.

E-mail addresses appear in blue.

Narco News Commentary, in red.

Headlines placed by Narco News between the e-mails are in maroon.

Furthermore, it will be obvious that more than censorship has been at play at the University of California.

The over-reaction and fear by university officials, as stated in the correspondence below, reveals a deep, inherent and unjustifiable racism on their part against Latin Americans in general, and Colombians in particular.

This is the anatomy of censorship.

from somewhere in a country called América,

Al Giordano


The Narco News Bulletin

The E-mail arrived in Spanish: May 22, 2000

(Translation appears below)

From: "Rodrigo Lloreda Mera"

Date: Mon, 22 May 2000 11:45:02 -0500


Dr. Charles B. Reed, Chancellor de la U. de C.

The Office of Public Affairs of the U. de C.

Mr. Gray Davis, Gobernador del Estado

Sra. D. Eastin, Secretaria de Educacion

Dr. Elazar Harel, Vice-Chancellor UCSD
(Responsable por BURN)

Dr. Stephen Weber, Presidente de la UCSD

Yo soy un ciudadano Colombiano que no está de acuerdo con la
violación de derechos humanos que las FARC cometen en nuestro país
además del daño que le generan a la población y a la confianza de
inversionistas extranjeros en Colombia.

Les solicito que se documenten y estudien realmente quienes son y que
hacen las FARC en nuestro País.

No hay derecho a que la USDC y el Estado de California se presten más
para que dicho grupo terrorista apalanque su negocio de crimen,
narcotrafico y extorsiones con la participación de ustedes y de vuestro
sistema de computo.

Los invito a una sana investigación y reflexión.

Rodrigo Lloreda

The Cowardly Response of University Vice Chancellor Elazar Harel in his letter to other University officials

I don't speak Spanish, but know enough to understand that this is
another message about the BURN site. Obviously, I have nothing to do
with this site or with the decision to keep it going but, for some
reason, they think that I am the person responsible for it (see

I am, therefore, very concerned about my personal safety and the
safety of my family.

Since it is probably not appropriate for me to respond to these
email, I am asking that a campus authority responds to everyone copied on the messages below -- immediately -- and make it very clear that I am not involved in the BURN site in any way.

Thanks. Elazar

Narco News Commentary: Dr. Elazar Harel, Vice President of the University, acknowledges "I don't speak Spanish." Thus, he did not understand the message, but assumed that it constituted a a threat to "my personal safety and the safety of my family."

You be the judge. Here, to ease Dr. Harel's irrational fear of people who speak Spanish, Narco News publishes a translation of the above communiqué from Rodrigo Lloreda:

I am a Colombian citizen who is not in agreement with the violation of human rights that the FARC commits in our country, and also the damage they generate to the population and the confidence of foreign investors in Colombia.

I ask that you document and study who they really are and what the FARC does in our country.

The USDC and the State of California have no right to loan themselves so that this named terrorist group can advocate for its business of crime, drug trafficking and extortions with the participation of you and your computer system.

I invite you to conduct a healthy investigation and reflection.

Rodrigo Lloreda

Thus, there was not even the hint of a threat in this letter received by Vice Chancellor Elazar Harel.

So, why then his rush to such irrational fear -- in his words -- for his safety and that of his family?

We must remind ourselves that California, when it comes to the treatment of Latin Americans, is the most racist state of the North American nation. More than Texas, more than Arizona. It was the population of California that, despite its cultivated reputation for highbrow liberalism and tolerance, voted for Proposition 187, an attack on all immigrants, and especially upon Latin Americans.

Thus, Dr. Harel, is obviously one of those white-collar racists whose high level of education and status in society has not helped him to overcome his irrational fear of people who communicate in Spanish.

From the dark recesses of Dr. Harel's psyche, came the excuse to censor the Burn web site because it published communiqués by the FARC.

The letter writer, Mr. Lloreda, equates the publishing of FARC statements with an endorsement of violence, crime and drug trafficking.

To the contrary, Mr. Lloreda (and Narco News invites you as well to add further comment), the denial of spaces of free speech is precisely what leads people to violence and armed revolution.

As John F. Kennedy said one day on a visit to Latin America: "Those who make peaceful evolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable."

Dialogue and the peace process require a full airing of ideas by all sides. Denial of those spaces of expression leads to violence.

In this sense, the University of California at San Diego is less committed to free expression, to study, to research, to access to information, than even the government of Colombia, which engages in open dialogue with the FARC and other insurgent armed forces.

To be fair to Mr. Lloreda, he did not call to censor the site. He merely called for reflection, investigation, for further study: the things that a University is supposed to do.

It was the fearful and racist attitudes of University officials that interpreted this call for reflection and study as requiring a censorship on their parts.

In fact, further study would have discovered that many of the bases of the letter writers to Dr. Harel and other functionaries had their facts wrong in their claims.

Narco News now publishes another letter received by Dr. Harel and analyzes its errors in fact:

From: "R. Bueno"
To: Elazar Harel
Subject: FARC
Date: Sat, 20 May 2000 11:09:35 -0500

Dear Mr Chancellor.

I am a common citizen of Colombia. A country that has been submerged in a bloody war initiated by terrorists of the worst kind, drug lords and corrupt politicians.

Probably the most demoralizing aspect of my country's life is led by the so called leftist guerrillas. These are groups of
narco-terrorists dedicated to kidnapping, murdering, exotrtion, drug dealing and general destabilization of a weak democracy . I do not have to explain to you the nature of such terrible organizations that, just last week, in order to extort the sum of 3.500 dollars out of a humble woman they placed around her neck a collar-bomb that exploded some moments later in front of her family killing, not only this poor woman but the anti - explosives agent that was trying to disarm the contraption and seriously wounding another soldier.

The organization that committed such a henious crime has found a safe heaven just under your nose, Mr. Chancellor. The main web page of the FARC is originated from the USCD page.

No one in its right mind can understand how can any organization like yours, in the name of freedom of speech provide a means to spread it's horrible poison to an organization like the FARC, the so called "Fuerzas Amradas Revolucionarias de Colombia", and be able to sleep peacefully.

In the name of humanity, Mr. Chancellor, please shut up these
monsters, and very probably save a few lifes.

Yours truly
Rodrigo Bueno

Narco News Commentary:

Again, there is not even an implicit threat to Dr. Harel in this letter, written in English.

It was written on May 20th, but Dr. Harel waited until he received a letter in Spanish to communicate his irrational and prejudice-based fear to the University.

Mr. Bueno, in this letter, cites the allegation, made in that week by the President of Colombia, Andrés Pastrana, that the FARC was responsible for the "collar bomb" that took the life of two Colombians and injured another in mid-May.

However, had Dr. Harel and University officials examined the FARC's own communiqués and studied the history of the armed insurgent organization, they would have known the following facts:

1. That the FARC always takes public credit for its acts of violence.

2. That the FARC issued a statement publicly denying responsibility for the "necklace bomb" and suggested that it had really been planted by enemies of the peace process.

3. That even when FARC troops commit errors, such as human rights violations, they take responsibility with their own internal system of justice. This happened last year with the murder of three North Americans by FARC troops: The FARC accepted responsibility, found the guilty parties within their own ranks, put them on trial, and sentenced their own commander to death.

4. That the FARC has never used a "collar bomb" in any of its actions.

5. That the "collar bomb" tragedy, in fact, had the scent of government-supported paramilitary organizations behind it, and also of counter-insurgency of the style of the US CIA (as outlined in the Pentagon's own counter-insurgency manual published in Spanish and distributed to, among others, Colombian officials).

6. That one week later, President Pastrana admitted that the FARC was not responsible for the crime.

It is precisely the free access to information like the FARC communiqués on the BURN website that can prevent these kinds of gross misunderstandings that damage the peace process.

"Shutting up these monsters," as Mr. Bueno advocates, causes more violence, not less.

Still, officials at the University of California at San Diego and their Communications Department (where, one hopes to presume that there is a belief in "communication"), saw no other alternative than to censor the Burn web site.

Censorship is informational violence.

Thus, contrary to every high principle of academia, the UCSD shut down the Burn site on May 31, 2000.

Here is the e-mail by the University staff member who was ordered to be the executioner of free speech:

The Execution: May 31, 2000

Bruce Jones
Wed, 31 May 2000 19:10:50 -0700

I have been given orders to pull the plug on burn. I'm
going to argue that only the webserver should be shut down
for now - and that the machine be left up so that you all
can make a transition to a new location and so that mail
will continue to flow. I suspect that I can argue this

chalk up another one for the forces of evil in the world.


In contrast to the censorious attitude of the University of California at San Diego, The Narco News Bulletin believes that sunlight, not darkness, is the best disinfectant.

Thus, we invite all the parties to add their comments to this developing story of cyber-censorship.

Furthermore, we reiterate our offer to publish the censored pages. In particular, we would like to educate the educators -- Dr. Elazar Harel and his partners in censorship -- through our actions that nobody needs to live in fear.

Irrational fear of "the other" -- be it people who speak a different language, or folks from another land, or groups with a different opinion -- is what leads to violence and harm.

It is precisely what has led to the irrational drug war and its manipulation of poorly-informed US public opinion.

Al Giordano


The Narco News Bulletin

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