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NARCO NEWS TO SUSPEND PUBLISHING INDEFINITELY ON OCTOBER 18
In memoriam: Carlos Sanchez Lopez ( 1954-2003 )
Narco News regrets to inform our readers that your trilingual online newspaper will suspend publishing new reports on October 18, three-and-a-half years after we began reporting on the drug war and democracy from Latin America.
The suspension will be indefinite, it may be permanent, but the suspension will last at least until the New Year. We thank our readers and supporters who have helped to keep Narco News publishing non-stop since April 18, 2000.
Before explaining the realities that led to this decision, I'd like to say the following...
It's been quite a ride. In these 1,275 days that shook America, we've witnessed, reported, translated, and participated in the growth of a visible drug legalization movement in Latin America where there previously was none. We've blown the whistle on attempted coups d'etat in Venezuela. We've walked side by side with, and reported from the fronts of, the growing social and indigenous movements that, from Argentina, to Bolivia, to Brazil, to Ecuador, to Mexico, to Peru, to Venezuela, and elsewhere, have reawakened Simon Bolivar's dream of a Latin America united against impositions from above.
During this marathon of Authentic Journalism, we also faced a billionaire assault by narco-bankers against our freedom to publish, and we won that historic case, from the New York Supreme Court, winning First Amendment rights not only for us but also for all Internet journalists.
The Gift that Keeps on Giving
We invited 30 Authentic Journalism Scholars from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Italy, Germany, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela, and the United States, to receive training, gratis, through the Narco News School of Authentic Journalism: In a short time, many of these journalists have already emerged as important published voices throughout our America. Others are on the verge. That will be among our gifts that keep on giving.
Strange, but even as our readership and production of original hard-hitting Authentic Journalism continues to grow, there just aren't enough resources, or even the promise of sufficient resources, to keep our Authentic Journalists in tortillas and beans, or to maintain the "safety net" that we have provided for them in emergencies.
Today's announcement is not about money, but we can't deny that the lack of it is a factor that clouds our usual optimism: Financial support for our shoestring operation, which traditionally has come mainly from good people and organizations inside the United States, is paradoxically waning at the same time that readership keeps growing. Our shoes got bigger, much bigger, but, essentially, we can't continue to keep them tied on, and keep walking the expanded terrain, with the small scrap of shoestring available to us.
A related factor - and I say this with August 17th assassination of my friend Carlos Sanchez Lopez still an open wound - is that to resume doing this kind of work as independent Authentic Journalists, we would first need to construct a better safety net for all of our reporters.
The Empire is getting nastier and more violent in its approach to the hemisphere, as can be seen most visibly in Colombia's dirty and US-imposed Civil War, and in last year's coup attempts in Venezuela. Washington and Wall Street are desperate to maintain the imposition of their prohibitionist, anti-democracy, and pro-looting positions, at any cost. The paradox is this: the closer we come to victory, the more dangerous the work for our journalists and the social movements that we cover. At the very moment that we urgently need to strengthen the "safety net" for our reporters on the front lines, that safety net grows weaker due to lack of resources.
Organizations and individuals of conscience in the United States often speak of how much they "admire" and "support" our work. Some really have been supportive. A few have been very generous. Others - including many of the largest self-proclaimed "human rights" or "press freedom" organizations - increasingly do more harm than good to the causes they profess to champion in our America; they've made our job, and that of others they claim to help protect, more difficult and dangerous, not less. I'll have more to say about their behaviors, one at a time, at the inevitable moments when they will behave in harmful ways again, over at my personal weblog in the near future.
The bottom line: We have not succeeded in helping enough of our potential allies in the U.S. to understand the unique dangers and needs that our journalists and we face to practice this craft authentically South of the Border.
In the majority of cases, it's not a matter of conspiracy or ill will, but, rather, a simple lack of consciousness or understanding that has led to a kind of "Solidarity LITE," that, however well meaning and appreciated the intent, doesn't get the job done. Although we have tried hard to educate potential "First World" backers of this work, we have not succeeded in getting the message across. Or, possibly, we have communicated our points very well and it just doesn't matter to them. We don't know what goes on in other people's heads.
The Ethic of Authentic Solidarity
But we do have our own definition of authentic solidarity. Explaining this concept to otherwise enlightened people North of the Border, at times, feels like trying to explain colors to the blind. Our ethic: Any emergency faced by any of our journalists is an emergency faced by all.
We don't send people onto the battlefield without providing the necessary backing. We learned that ethic from the Latin American social and indigenous movements that we cover. This ethic, in fact, is a key factor in what has made so many of those movements victorious. Meanwhile, similar movements in the developed world, where this ethic doesn't exist, are stalled and feeble in effectiveness even as they are better funded. Although this ethic is something that can be learned, we have not succeeded in teaching enough people of the importance of maintaining that safety net.
We will try to explain our colors, now, with our silence.
We have a few more important news stories in the hopper that we'll publish over the next week, but then it will end.
In our usual penchant for paradox, the end is not, exactly, an end: the Narco News archives will remain online... 31 issues, more than 800 original reports plus translations will continue to haunt the simulators and the powers they protect... We remain a favorite of search engines everywhere... Our truths will continue haunt, today, tomorrow, and the next day, the professional liars out there...
But there's another reason we'll keep the Narco News archives on line: So that somewhere in a country called the Internet there will still be an example of Authentic Journalism as we have defined it, and a record of the first days of the Authentic Journalism renaissance that we have been so privileged to live. Some youngster or youngsters, someday, are going to stumble across this place and they'll figure out how to cause an awful lot of trouble, hopefully even better than we did. We leave behind much more than a monument or stone statue to three-and-a-half years of Authentic Journalism. What we leave, archived here, is a road map.