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Cocaine Unwrapped

The documentary film “Cocaine Unwrapped” will premiere at the Open City London Documentary Festival on 17 June at 8:50pm and will screen again on 18 June at 2:10pm.

A short description of the film from the Dartmouth Films website:

This feature documentary is a wake-up call to the West about the human suffering and cost caused by the cocaine trade and the war against it. The film is a skilful combination of reportage from the drugs frontline and interviews with those top-level international politicians who are campaigning to get us in the West to take real responsibility for our drugs problem.  Unwrapping the human cost of cocaine, the film shows the true price of this commodity.”

Watch the 3-minute trailer below the fold:



Chávez is more fanatically Islamic than Al Qaeda

Carlos Alberto Montaner (Image from the Machetera blog)

Gracing the pages of various Spanish-language newspapers yesterday and today is an article entitled “Bin Laden in Latin America”. Written by exiled Cuban columnist and author Carlos Alberto Montaner, whose claims to fame include referring to Eduardo Galeano’s acclaimed Open Veins of Latin America as “the idiot’s bible”, it might be more appropriately titled “The idiot’s attempt to turn Hugo Chávez into bin Laden by way of an irrelevant Ethiopian”.

The article begins with the announcement that an Ethiopian terrorist engaged in the trafficking of illegal immigrants was captured in Ecuador and deported to the United States in March. Montaner himself states in the first paragraph that the man’s ties to Al Qaeda have not been confirmed, but declares in the second that the purpose of said trafficking was presumably to raise funds for the organization and to construct networks of potential collaborators.

Via this introduction, we somehow arrive at the revelation that the president of Venezuela is “an accomplice of all extremist and fanatically Islamic causes, including Al Qaeda”, though Montaner refrains from explaining whether the expulsion from Caracas of Israeli diplomatic personnel in response to massacres in Gaza qualifies as fanatical complicity. Montaner asserts that the reason for Chávez’ pro-extremist behavior is “not at all clear” but promptly goes on to state, quite clearly, that the Venezuelan leader—plus his counterparts in Cuba, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Bolivia—perceive Al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah “as allies because they believe they have a common enemy: north American imperialism”.


Ecuadorian Quechua Photographs by Amelia Opalinska

Hitchhiking in the Amazonian region of eastern Ecuador in April of last year, photographer Amelia Opalinska and I were faced with the dilemma of how to visit remote indigenous villages and other uncommon vehicular destinations.

Transportation to the Huaorani village of Tigüino was not an issue given the heavy presence of oil companies and related traffic. In order to reach certain Quechua villages, meanwhile, we took advantage of the national election campaigns currently underway and appealed to the local coordinators of the indigenous-oriented Pachakutik party (now part of the controversy over the recent maybe-or-maybe-not-coup-attempt against President Rafael Correa), who permitted us to join their campaign expeditions. We selected this party not out of an affinity for any particular aspect of its political platform but rather out of an affinity for its rainbow-themed posters.

Following is a series of Opalinska’s photographs of various Quechua communities. Click here to view a previous series on the Huaorani and here for a longer article on our electoral experience in Ecuador.


Iran continues conquest of Latin America

Yesterday in Washington, D.C, I encountered a Bolivian immigrant named David who had just returned from a trip to La Paz in order to verify that Evo Morales was not in the process of expropriating his house in his absence and who informed me that other world leaders were taking advantage of Morales’ minimal education level to fill in the gaps with their own ideologies. It turned out that the list of usual culprits had been expanded to consist not only of the presidents of Venezuela and Ecuador but that of Iran, as well, whose first ambassador to Bolivia met with Morales this week.

The opening of Iranian diplomatic offices in South America has been of special concern in recent years to the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the U.S. State Department, prompting them to produce such things as “secret reports” about Iranian acquisition of regional uranium and to alert Jewish travelers to their potential kidnapping at the Caracas airport as part of a joint Hezbollah-Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps scheme to transport hostages to Lebanon via the weekly Caracas-Tehran flight on IranAir. (Despite the seeming logistical simplicity of the scheme, it is apparently more difficult to carry out than, for example, assassinations of Hamas leaders in their Dubai hotels.)


FARC to join global jihad

Alvaro Uribe avoids retirement.

The four-member United Nations panel appointed to investigate the May 31 Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara which killed 9 people is scheduled to have its first meeting today. An August 3 AFP article noting the “surprising U-turn from the Israelis” in deciding to support the flotilla probe—a rare instance of Israeli cooperation with the U.N.—fails to note that the U-turn is perhaps not so surprising given the appointment as panel Vice Chairman of outgoing Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, whose expertise in the realm of security will thus not be lost with the end of his presidential term.

Israel and Colombia have been plagued with similar security challenges for decades, such as how to portray victims as aggressors in order to acquire land—although Colombian territorial entitlement admittedly lacks biblical endorsement. Past Israeli training of Colombian death squads may have contributed to current Colombian creativity in retroactively justifying massacres; starting in 2008, for example, it was revealed that the members of the Colombian army had—reportedly in thousands of instances—murdered civilians and then disguised them as guerrillas from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in order to receive bonuses and additional vacation time. Israeli creativity in the aftermath of the May flotilla massacre meanwhile included Foreign Ministry Flickr postings of photographs of kitchen knives and marbles and declarations that a weapons cache had been found on board the Mavi Marmara, underscoring Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon’s claim that the humanitarian activists on the ship in fact had ties to “global jihad.”


Ecuadorian Huaorani photographs by Amelia Opalinska

For more than half a century, indigenous Huaoranis in the Amazonian region of Ecuador have been courted by exploitative entities, ranging from evangelical Christian missionaries who dropped cooking pots on them from helicopters in the 1950s to international oil companies who today facilitate their acquisition of DVD players.

Below is a series of photographs of Huaorani villages by Amelia Opalinska, taken during our hitchhiking trip through Ecuador last year. My essay “Oil and Aguardiente in the Ecuadorian Elections” chronicles our interactions with various indigenous groups in the context of the national elections held on April 26, 2009, and with one of the participants in a Huaorani massacre of members of a tribe existing in voluntary isolation.

Click on each of the photos below to view a larger image.


FARC Number 2 had Plasma TV

Raúl Reyes.

March 1 marked the second anniversary of the Colombian military attack on a camp belonging to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in Angostura, Ecuador, which killed the organization’s second-in-command Raúl Reyes. A commemorative link on the website of Ecuadorian daily El Comercio acquaints visitors with pertinent details of the event, such as the location and layout of the camp, the characteristics of the Blackhawk helicopters used, and an approximation of fatalities—which in addition to 21 guerrillas and 1 soldier includes 5 civilians, who are nonetheless represented on the tally sheet by 5 small grey figures with guns.

Also provided is a diagram of Reyes’ sleeping quarters, which is depicted as consisting of wooden planks, a plastic tarp, and a plasma television set. The diagram does not specify the location of the laptop computers that were allegedly found to contain evidence of Ecuadorian and Venezuelan ties to the FARC—laptops that had then spontaneously produced guerrilla ties to an anti-coup political party in the aftermath of last summer’s coup d’état in Honduras, where the employment of Colombian paramilitaries in the private security sector has not prompted the Colombian armed forces to bombard them using U.S. satellite technology.