<i>"The Name of Our Country is América" - Simon Bolivar</i> The Narco News Bulletin<br><small>Reporting on the War on Drugs and Democracy from Latin America
 English | Español August 15, 2018 | Issue #28

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Al Giordano

Opening Statement, April 18, 2000
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Light Speed

Chronicle of the Opening of the Mérida Drug Legalization Summit

By Luis Gómez
Jefe de la Oficina Andina de Narco News

February 12, 2003

Mérida, Yucatán; February 12, 2003: It’s hot in Merida this morning, the sky is a white sheet and the fresh air runs through Trinidad Hotel. A couple of hours ago, the Mallku de America, the Aymara deputy Felipe Quispe, came to meet the tata Andres Vasquez de Santiago, National Indigenous Congress leader, and for a few minutes the old wisdom of our America was united again. Felipe asked don Andres about his life and his teachings, don Andres got to know the coca leaf… as our school students and teachers witnessed the first “Out From the Shadows.” Today, kind readers, lights were turned on everywhere.

Felipe Quispe de Bolivia – el Mallku de América – with don Andrés Vásquez de Santiago, leader of
the Mexican National Indigenous Congress, in Mérida.
Photo D.R. Jeremy Bigwood, 2003

In the hotel, the most important indigenous campesino movement leaders joyfully talk through smiles, wish the best to each other and take each other hands. “I hope that you go on thinking, fighting…your life and your struggle is also ours” said Quispe. Don Andres smiles, “Sure, there’s a lot to be done yet. Maybe I’ll leave it soon because I’m old but it’s in your hands to continue it.” And like that, while courtesy and affection move from the central to the southern part of this continent, the news and arrivals keep surprising the participants of the first latin-American meeting to end drug prohibition.

Also, while don Andres and the Mallku talk about their issues, the Narco News School of Authentic Jourbalism members are organizing the best coverage for the “Out of the Shadows”, to give everyone, everywhere, in three languages (English, Spanish and Portuguese) the chance to share it with us. And the students, believe me, are amazing. Their talent and discipline are the new hope for journalism and the democracy to come.

Today the School of Journalism first part of the program was a magnificent speech by Gary Webb, probably one of the world’s best investigative reporters. As he gave the students tips on how to make the best event coverage possible, Webb had the complete attention of around thirty people. There was a silence, not a heavy one, but the kind that fills up the spirit when something reaches you….the only constant sound were the clicks coming from the camera of our photography editor Jeremy Bigwood.

Right now, while I give you this report on the ambiance that we all share here a few hours before the “Out of the Shadows” opening session, the Catalan journalist Maria Botey gives the students a speech, the Peruvians start to arrive and there are already present reformists from England, Germany and United States ready to attend the event…everyone is anxious, ready for the moment in which, as Jose Marti said, “there’s going to be nothing but light”…

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The Narco News Bulletin: Reporting on the Drug War and Democracy from Latin America