The Narco News Bulletin

"The Name of Our Country is América"

-- Simón Bolívar

Drug Prohibition: Threat to American Democracy

A Hemisphere in Crisis

A Narco News Global Alert

Shots... of Grace

A Column in Five Parts


I. México and the Fall of the PRI

II. Colombia: The Battlefield is All América

III. Texas: The Controlled Substance Behind the Conflict

IV. Washington: Drug Money Laundering as Campaign Finance

V. Hackers, Human Beings and Authentic Journalism in América


I. México and the Fall of the PRI

Perspective requires that both eyes remain wide open. Close one eye, and the sense of vision loses depth. One cannot judge the distance or nearness, the depth or superficiality of objects, moving or still, through only one eye.

When it comes to politics in América in our immediate history, there are two currents in conflict: The wind from below, as Subcomandante Marcos labels this force, and that from above.

The first round of international press coverage of the July 2nd Mexican election has overwhelmingly been managed by those from above.

Wall Street is having a fiesta. Washington is ecstatic. The disgraced New York Times correspondents have noted their election night pleasure of finally receiving a hug on the street from Mexicans, who are still, obviously, strangers to these privileged aliens.

The very same United States powers who propped up the Institutional Revolutionary Party and kept the Mexican people mired in misery and injustice for so many years are now celebrating the fall of the PRI. And why not? Relieved, finally, from the burden of their own pet bulldog gone rabid, they will now display their new Irish Setter to all the neighbors, all combed and bathed, perfumed so as to make us forget the stench of blood, suffering and tears they inflicted on so many for so long.

The happiest of all is the PRI's own leader, President Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León, the butcher of Acteal, of Aguas Blancas, of El Charco, of Juárez City, who, had his party won, faced a future of exile in Dublin like the predecessor who chose him, Carlos Salinas de Gortari, godfather of the modern Narco State.

On election night, with only two percent of the vote officially counted, Zedillo delivered the final proof that he had screwed his own hand-picked successor, Francisco Labastida Ochoa. At the precise moment when Labastida came on stage at PRI headquarters to face the press, the people, and the music, Zedillo pre-empted him, and issued a well-rehearsed speech on national television, congratulating Vicente Fox for his victory, pledging a smooth transition.

Like Henry Kissinger before him, Zedillo is now openly campaigning for the Nobel Prize. (Earth to Ernesto: don't forget to release environmental activists Rudolfo Montiel and Teodoro Cabrera García -- framed on drug charges in Guerrero -- from the prison cells where they still wallow without justice; the awards committees have already noted their plight.)

I could go on and note that not even Vicente Fox understood until Sunday afternoon that the machine had decided to make him king. Fox was visibly nervous when he voted that morning, attacking the election fraud that, suddenly, nobody wants to discuss anymore. I could go on about James Carville and Emilio Gamboa Patrón, who, from the inside of the PRI campaign, betrayed their own client. And why?

But if I were to simply focus on the negative, I would have to keep one eye closed.

Let me now open the other eye and explain what I see: movement not just from above, but also from below.

Although it is now crystal clear that Washington itself manufactured the Fox victory with the aid of Zedillo, their double-agents inside the PRI and the international press corps, Washington was forced into that position. The wind from below had already gathered too much gale force.

And this is the wonderful part of the story. They were forced to offer at least the optical illusion of change, and to raise the expectations of the Mexican people.

This has been a long march that picked up velocity at key moments: from the Plaza of the Three Cultures at Tlalteloco and the winds unleashed with the massacre of students on October 2, 1968; from the Mexico City Zocalo and the stealing of the election in 1988; from so many smaller, unnoticed battles, the winds from the ghosts of more than 600 opposition leaders assassinated in the past twelve years, an average of four a month.

The victory over the PRI does not belong to Vicente Fox nor to Washington. It belongs, first and foremost, the martyrs, and the survivors who would not -- and, still today, will not -- let it be that they died in vain.

The latest phase of the fall of the PRI began in the dawn of January 1, 1994, the first day that the North American Free Trade Agreement took effect, when the indigenous populations of the impoverished and oppressed mountains and jungles of Chiapas took up arms -- of fire and of communication -- and declared war upon "the party of the State" and "the neoliberal economic system."

In the days after the July 2, 2000 vote, where have we read the words Tlalteloco? Or Zapatistas? If they have been mentioned in the international press, the word has merely passed, like a ghost, like so many phantoms inconvenient to the great simulators of democracy in América.

Where, in the international press coverage of this clearly historic event, have we read the words Mexican Civil Society? There will be no Nobel Prize for the real winners. Nor are they -- we -- seeking that illusory recognition. They -- we -- will march forward. They -- we -- will keep pushing Washington, Wall Street, Clinton, Zedillo, Fox, the powerful, named and nameless, just as the PRI was pushed before them. They -- we -- seek not medals but, rather, democracy, liberty, justice.

Since the international press responds so well to sports metaphors when covering elections, let us make it perfectly clear to the myopic powers who lack perspective: the defeat of the PRI was only the first goal scored in a struggle that has now begun its next phase.

II. The Battlefield is All of América

As the Mexican elections have been soaking up the pittance of attention allowed in the US Media to the rest of the hemisphere, Washington has issued a new provocation: "Plan Colombia."

Oh, how the US Senators and Congressmen voted so publicly for conditions that tied the $1.3 billion dollar military aid package to Colombia to respect for human rights and the environment. But precisely in these days when the eyes of América have been watching, and participating, in the Mexican battle, the legislative process in the city named for a revolutionary general has, behind closed doors, eliminated those provisions.

And they have done so with the pretext of fighting the war on drugs.

Thus, this obscene amount of money will now be handed over, with one eye closed, to the very same military officials (and their protected right-wing narco-paramilitary squads) responsible for so much bloodshed of innocent civilians already. The checks are flying without balances. The massacres now have official endorsement from Washington, its president, its senators, its congressmen, its embassies and spies.

Not only are they attempting to cover one eye of the public, but our noses as well: Colombia seems so far away. How will we possibly smell the herbicides that will lay waste to so many acres of jungle rainforest?

The veteran New York Times journalist Max Frankel wrote, in May:

"This is a media alert for editors and television producers who thought they could safely ignore all news outside the United States: the permanent drug war is going military -- and abroad... this story promises to be around for years. Alert media, however, will want to prepare to field Spanish-speaking correspondents, duly covered by kidnap insurance, to follow the action across the photogenic terrain of the Andes.

"It would be unwise to expect trustworthy information from Washington...."

And yet what is clear not only from the recent Times coverage of Mexico by two disgraced correspondents, but also the carpetazo offered in that New York journal by the neutered Larry Rohter from Colombia and South America, is that the coming war in Colombia -- and other nations as it crosses borders to serve other US interests than that of "fighting drugs" -- will be used to sell newspapers, to hypnotize the TV-viewing public and the radio listeners of Gringolandia just as the Gulf War was used by US President George Bush to, in his own words, bury the "Vietnam syndrome," and make overt US military intervention possible on this earth once again.

Now, to close the pass between Bush's junior and the White House, the Clinton-Gore administration will try the same cheap trick. Only they have learned from Bush's political error (that of provoking his Gulf War and "winning" it too many months before the 1992 elections; a victory so hollow that Clinton got to fight the same war all over again as part of his 1996 re-election strategy). The Clinton-Gore "Plan Colombia" is, to them, more of a "Plan District of Columbia." They have surpassed even themselves in cynicism.

Cynicism, itself, is not a crime. The problem lies in the fact that, in their last-ditch strategy to hang onto Executive Power in the United States, they are about to ignite Hemisphere War I.

US powers installed Colombian President Andrés Pastrana using many of the same techniques with which they have just installed Vicente Fox in Mexico.

In Colombia, with the US-imposed drug war as excuse, they broke the back of the Liberal Party and its President Ernesto Samper with accusations of drug war corruption. And they put their own puppet Pastrana, of the Conservative Party, in his place. Remember the universal praise for Pastrana upon his election and in the honeymoon of his presidency? The congratulatory calls from Clinton to the new savior of Colombia? The favorable editorials in the Times, the Post, and the rest of the star-maker machinery of the political song?

Now, with the Colombian Congress investigating Pastrana himself for narco-corruption, and the flight of his top cop José Serrano -- who, rather than fall for his knighting at the hands of the Washington image makers (and the obligatory fall that comes later), jumped ship last month and is about to model himself as an "opposition leader" much like, well, Vicente Fox in Mexico!

The black spring of 2000 has revealed a new sophistication by US meddlers in the rest of América. Where no one pays attention -- the Dominican Republic, Haiti -- they continue to manufacture old-style election fraud a la Mexicana 1988 (remember, Reagan was the first to congratulate Salinas on his "victory" a dozen Julys ago). But in Perú, where more of the world was watching, the US, working with Spanish intelligence agents (see the Narco News editorial of June 12th), propped up its very own "opposition candidate" in former World Bank employee Alejandro Toledo. Thus, Washington -- and Langley -- got to play on both sides of the conflict. In that case, the incumbent puppet got the better of the challenger puppet, who still stumbles in a half-hearted protest as if he doesn't know what -- or more precisely who -- hit him. For it was the people who set Toledo up that later knocked him down.

There were moments in the now-concluded chapter of the Mexican campaign in which it seemed that the US and its economic interests were about to do the same to Vicente Fox; the ol' set-'em-up-to-knock-'em-down technique.

Regarding the different screenplay that just happened in Mexico, the US human rights groups will credit the allowance of a Fox victory to themselves and the greater global scrutiny that they helped to provide on the Mexican elections. It's already as if Jimmy Carter chose Fox by dedazo. Wiped again from this version of history is the role of the Mexican people, and especially that of the guerrilla movements who must be erased from the locker-room chalkboards of the US coaches and their one-eyed game plans.

The same dynamic has made possible "Plan Colombia," which will soon expand to become "Plan Panama" (a nation that was once part of Colombia) and, even more to the point of the US goal here: "Plan Venezuela."

But above all, we repeat: it is "Plan District of Columbia: the selling of the president 2000."

III. The Controlled Substance Behind the Conflict

Beneath the surface of these conflicts there is indeed a controlled substance that is known to have addictive qualities on its consumers. But it is not cocaine, nor heroin, nor marijuana. Simply put: Colombia, Venezuela and, yes, Chiapas -- precisely under Zapatista terrain -- exist in poverty over some of the last great oil reserves in the hemisphere.

And so the American guerrilla movements -- examples of what the French philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari called "the war machine outside the State" -- are of great concern to US oil companies. As is the new popular-military-democracy (yes, such a thing is possible, even laudable) in Venezuela, led by President Hugo Chávez, who is fast-becoming a bigger pain to Washington's dark agendas than Castro in Cuba.

We draw your attention, reader, to an excerpt from yesterday's Associated Press story, appropriately published by the Dallas Morning News:

Oil executives optimistic about prospects of dealing with Bush

Industry has been locked in series of disputes with Clinton administration

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - After being locked in a string of disputes with the Clinton administration, the oil industry will be seeking George W. Bush's help on a range of issues, should he be elected president.

Recent gasoline prices have brought energy policy into the campaign as Democratic presidential contender and Vice President Al Gore tries to tar Mr. Bush, the Republican governor, as a pawn of the oil industry. Mr. Bush, a former oilman from Midland, says it isn't so.

But across a range of issues - from drilling in an Alaskan wildlife refuge, to whether to pursue an international agreement on climate control - oil executives view Mr. Bush and the people he would appoint to key posts as more receptive to their point of view than President Clinton's team.

The industry's relationship with the Clinton administration - and Mr. Gore himself - often has bordered on hostile. While oil companies have pumped more than $1.5 million into Mr. Bush's campaign, the industry has contributed less than $100,000 to Mr. Gore's.

For years, the top priority of oil lobbyists has been to open the coastal strip of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northern Alaska to drilling. Congress once approved such drilling, but Mr. Clinton blocked it. Mr. Gore has promised, "I will never agree to oil drilling" in the refuge. "Never."

But Mr. Bush views drilling there as a cornerstone of his goal to reduce America's reliance on foreign oil. "We need to increase domestic exploration," Bush spokesman Dan Bartlett said.

This story, of course, was spoon-fed to the AP by the Gore campaign, as part of its acknowledged strategy of "running against the oil companies."

The bigger game, as deep underneath the surface as the oil reserves themselves, is a capitulation to those same oil companies. In sum, the Democrats are wooing Big Oil with a stick and a carrot.

The stick is: If you elect Bush, he will smell so much of Texas petroleum by the time we get done with him that you will never get an ounce of Alaskan oil out of Congress.

The carrot that the Democrats are offering the oil companies is this: Be realistic, why do you want Alaskan oil when Colombian and Venezuelan oil is cheaper without having to pay US petroleum union wages?

The only player in the United States election right now who can blow the whistle on this scheme is consumer advocate turned Third Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader. And yet, The Narco News Bulletin knows precisely that the Clinton-Gore administration is gambling on Nader's inability to call the entire question.

Because to offer a coherent opposition to "Plan Colombia," Nader would have to counter the emotional appeal of the Plan Colombia's "anti-drug" pretext. To simply say, as some US liberals do, that it is better to invest in prevention, treatment and education than in a foreign war simply lacks credibility. It does nothing to solve the root problem. It also lacks political punch.

For Nader to emerge as a real player in opposition to the Colombia war that is the ace up the sleeves of Clinton and Gore in the US electoral scenario, Ralph Nader would have to call for the legalization of drugs. (Here's a hint to our friend Ralph: you could use the word "regulation" -- that would certainly be consistent with your profile.)

For Nader to enter the drug policy reform movement would be an example of The Wind from Below. This time, from within the United States. For, as all América realized last fall upon noticing the tear-gas choked photos out of Seattle, The Wind from Below has already crossed the border into the US. The Narco News Bulletin is merely a recent manifestation of that fact, but not at all the only one.

Again, we see the impotence of single-issue politics. We are not alone in this observation. The US unions increasingly see it. The environmentalists have awakened to it. Nader's campaign is a clear manifestation of this development.

The drug policy reform movement -- isolated for years by the ridiculous fear of other social movements to be seen as in alliance with "the legalizers" -- must now confront what is really an opportunity: to enter the great questions of war and peace, human rights, the environment in América, working conditions, and the geopolitical mess caused by US reliance on petroleum. Likewise, the individuals and organizations that deal, in a single-issue fashion with those aforementioned matters must confront the question of drug prohibition.

Simply put: Democracy and human rights cannot exist in América in the context of drug prohibition. Perhaps that is clearer in the nations to the South of the United States than it is, still, within North America. But that day is fast upon us also in the most over-incarcerated nation on earth.

Drug Prohibition is North America's PRI.

IV. Drug Money Laundering as Campaign Finance

Now we enter the terrain where true opponents to simulated democracy within the United States can drive a stake through that system's heart as the Mexican people have just done to the PRI.

The question of campaign finance in the US entered the political stage, like the opposition to the PRI, from below. In the 1980s it was thought an impossible question to even raise. A local grassroots referendum in Western Massachusetts engineered by Randy Kehler and other nuclear freeze activists was the first popular expression of social rage over the question of money's undue influence in corrupting North American democracy. We say popular so as not to diminish the groundwork laid by Common Cause and other "good government" groups who for decades had been voices in the wilderness on this question. But it was the plebiscite in those hills that caused other, more opportunistic forces, to take notice of the popular hue and cry.

The presidential campaign of 1992 brought Texas billionaire Ross Perot as the first (Vicente Fox-style) politician effort to put other sails to that Wind from Below. The irony was delicious: a member of the super-rich elite class took full advantage of the loopholes in the US campaign finance system to emerge as a critical voice of that system.

That Perot had other motives -- power, revenge against fellow Texan George Bush Senior -- do not diminish the fact that sailboats, even yachts, cannot stop The Wind.

As Fox in Mexico has demonstrated once again: this is a pattern in human events. The farmers plant, the owners harvest. The Mexican Left and especially the Zapatistas brought the PRI to its knees. The system now tries to recover with the "spurious opposition" of Vicente Fox. That honeymoon may be as short-lived as Perot's or Pastrana's.

In the years since that humble Western Massachusetts referendum, since the Perot campaign gave legitimacy to the "outsiders' vote" in North American politics, all kinds of scoundrels -- from Pat Buchanan in 1996 and again now, to, this year, Bill Bradley and John McCain -- have harvested what they could, which was wind. And yet winds are not harvested. They remain in movement(s).

Now that both major political parties in the US -- the Democrats and the Republicans -- have so demonized "drugs" to the point where "Plan Colombia" is politically possible, they have left themselves open to frontal attack.

The fact is, as so impeccably documented by Michael C. Ruppert in our May 2000 story of the month, drug money is now an integral part of the Gore and Bush campaigns this year. And because money laundering leaves a paper trail, this ugly matter offers itself to more convincing proof than, say, questions of the CIA and drug trafficking.

And yet we saw the outrage at a boiling point in San José and Los Angeles, California, late in the last century, when Gary Webb's San José Mercury News series on Crack and the CIA touched a public chord precisely in the heart of the Democratic party's inner-city base. But that was when the Republicans were in control -- indeed, that story did help bring about the end of the first Bush presidency -- and Democratic politicians, from Maxine Waters to John Kerry, exploited that issue to their political benefit.

But since 1992, when Clinton assumed power, the Democrats have shut up. The maneuverings of their own operatives -- Chuck Mannatt (now ambassador to the prestigious international post in the Dominican Republic) and Tony Coehlo (whose daughter reportedly was recently spotted in Mexico City helping Carville give bad advice to the PRI) -- to bring drug money into the Democratic party has created a 21st century version of M.A.D. (Mutually Assured Destruction) between the Republicans and Democrats in the United States.

Forces from outside of both of those parties will have to detonate the fuse.

The accusations of money laundering in the campaign of Vicente Fox (in contrary to the whitewash offered in recent days by both disgraced NY Times columnists who claimed that the charges were "undocumented" when in fact they were very convincingly documented with copies of checks) did not harm Fox for one essential fact: The Mexican People have no illusions about the drug war. They -- unlike their US counterparts -- know that prohibition corrupts their leaders. In Mexico, that is old news. And there is a large dose of realism that because drug prohibition is imposed by the giant to the North, nothing can be done about it from Mexico (we don't agree -- as we wrote in our opening statement -- but that is the perceived situation among many Mexicans). At least in campaign season, say many people openly, drug money gets reinvested in the country as opposed to the next five years when it will simply get transfered and laundered through foreign banks.

But the United States public, so badly-informed and insulated from the corrupt reality of their own government under drug prohibition, will have a very different reaction when it realizes -- and it will -- that democracy is incompatible with drug prohibition. Because the majority of the North American public believes its government is sincerely fighting against drug abuse and trafficking. Thus it is a more explosive question there, not that we will ever read that in the Times unless the likes of Max Frankel come back from pasture to seize control. But that is not on power's agenda. And at least North of the border, the Media is about Power and Control. Authentic journalism, for now, must enter from the outside.

At The Narco News Bulletin we have sometimes been accused of shouting "fire" in a crowded theater. Ahem, the theater is on fire. And this will become all too clear when "Plan Colombia" explodes live on CNN.

V. Hackers, Human Beings and Authentic Journalism

Our coverage of the Mexican elections at Narco News, we are sorry to report, leaves one loose end untied.

Whatever happened with the computer hackers who were on the verge of breaking the password to the Compact Disk of the FOBAPROA scandal?

This was the missing link in the Mexican elections that might have destroyed the "spurious opposition" of Vicente Fox on the same day as the technocratic and dominant wing of the PRI tumbled into its tomb. The opening of that disk, as we have reported, would have revealed names, dates and amounts of who robbed the Mexican people of $80 billion US dollars in the most gigantic bank fraud scandal in the history of América. And it would have revealed the interdependent nature of the banking system, the government, campaign finance, and drug money laundering.

Was it a matter "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing"?

We don't think so. We believe that economic and political interests, through brute power, all the violence and ruthlessness that implies, kept the information on that disk entombed with the PRI.

One theory is that there never were any hackers and the whole matter was invented as nothing more than political campaign hype. But that theory is countered by the following facts:

1. If not for the work of hackers, the left-wing PRD (Democratic Revolution Party) would not have been able to reveal two basic facts:

A. That the now president-elect of Mexico Vicente Fox, during a nationally televised debate, handed a false password to the FOBAPROA disk to the journalist-moderator of that show.

B. That Canadian auditor Michael Mackey withheld a secret sixth password.

2. Those facts were confirmed when:

A. Federal Congressman Fauzi Handam Amad of Fox's PAN party admitted that he "mistakenly" gave Fox the wrong password. He then handed over a second password, that the PRD later said had also been exposed as falsified by one letter. (Handam Amad will now join the PAN delegation in the federal senate.)

B. Canadian Auditor Michael Mackey confessed that, yes, he did reserve a secret sixth password for himself (he had handed the disk over to the Mexican congress while giving five passwords to the five political parties on the theory that only if they came to agreement would the disk be opened).

C. For Mackey to admit something so grave is to admit to an act of fraud, for which, if it had happened in Canada, his career would have been destroyed. Mackey only admitted his unethical behavior -- for which he charged $2 million dollars in fees to the Mexican Congress -- because somebody (that is, hackers) had discovered this fact and offered sufficient proof of it.

D. The leadership of the PRI in the federal congress announced, four days before the July 2nd election, that Mackey had agreed (with them, also interesting for someone theoretically hired by a congress of five parties) to now furnish a disk with one password only, that a congressional committee would then keep under lock and key.

E. But now it is after the election and -- ¡qué sorpresa! -- Mackey has just announced from Canada, according to Proceso magazine, that he will not hand over the full information to the Congress that paid for it. His excuse? Fear of getting sued by the financial institutions whose skullduggery would be revealed. The phone lines have been buzzing between the narco-law offices of the bankers and the unethical Canadian auditor. Still, he invited those calls when he participated in an 11th hour partisan campaign maneuver -- or was it a deal? -- to hush up the PRD and their hackers.

These facts, all now a matter of public record, lead to only two possible conclusions: that the hackers just simply did not succeed in breaking the code before election day; or, the more troubling theory, that members of the PRD in Congress made back-room deals with the banks and other financial interests, perhaps with other political parties like PRI and/or PAN, to keep the matter hidden from public view.

The Narco News Bulletin invites the hackers -- the PRD called them "technicians" -- to inform what happened:

And yet the possibilities raised by the Mexican hackers now present a challenge for the November elections in the United States of América.

What if, before election day, the drug money trail in the Democratic and Republican parties could be exposed on a grand scale before the US elections?

If the White House, for example, thought for a moment that its own complicity in the drug trade would be shown to all the people, "Plan Colombia" would be cancelled in a New York Stock Exchange minute.

On the GOP side, the Bush family -- contaminated in drugs and in oil -- might actually find its back against the wall so hard that it would have to reach to New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson to bail them out by giving them the only defensible platform on drug policy.

The last US president who, by consensus, goes down in history as a great statesman, was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who, before defeating Hitler, repealed alcohol prohibition, and with that act, brought a huge block of voters who were then minorities -- Irish, Italian, Jewish, Black -- persecuted by the War on Alcohol into a party base that lasted for two generations. And it happened like lightning. If anybody had said in 1930 that, by 1932, Roosevelt's Democratic party would call for repeal of alcohol prohibition, they would have been labeled, in the kindest of terms, as mere dreamers.

Politics, in its essence, is a matter of pushing and shoving. The forces from above understand that fact quite well. That is why they are in power. They do it to each other, but mainly they do it to the rest of us, the majority, made of so many minorities, in the end, made of individuals.

The Mexican Civil Society, in this election cycle, has shown the world that the push can also come from below. Fox will have his honeymoon like Pastrana had his in Colombia. But Civil Society will keep on pushing. The Mexican PRI -- after 71 years, the longest ruling party on earth -- was destroyed not by another party, nor by another politician. It was not even put to sleep by its owners in Washington. Those forces of power merely piled on the corpse after the wounds it sustained, beginning on January 1, 1994, from whence there came a Wind from Below.

From somewhere in a country called América,

Al Giordano


The Narco News Bulletin

July 4, 2000

Bring the War Home