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:
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
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
Narco News Commentary,
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
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
in a country called América,
The E-mail arrived
in Spanish: May 22, 2000
From: "Rodrigo Lloreda
Subject: Re: El WEB PAGE DE LA FARC
Date: Mon, 22 May 2000 11:45:02 -0500
Dr. Charles B. Reed, Chancellor de la U. de C. email@example.com
Sra. D. Eastin, Secretaria
de Educacion firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Elazar Harel, Vice-Chancellor
(Responsable por BURN)
Dr. Stephen Weber,
Presidente de la UCSD
Yo soy un ciudadano Colombiano que no está de acuerdo
violación de derechos humanos que las FARC cometen en
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
hacen las FARC en nuestro País.
No hay derecho a que la USDC y el Estado de California se presten
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.
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
with this site or with the decision to keep it going but, for
reason, they think that I am the person responsible for it (see
I am, therefore, very concerned about my personal safety and
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 email@example.com
Narco News Commentary:
Dr. Elazar Harel, Vice President of the University, acknowledges
"I don't speak
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
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.
Thus, there was not even
the hint of a threat in this letter received by Vice Chancellor
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
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
Narco News now publishes
another letter received by Dr. Harel and analyzes its errors
From: "R. Bueno"
To: Elazar Harel firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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
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,
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
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:
May 31, 2000
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
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
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.