The Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) is a stenographers’ club. Alberto Maldonado tells why and examines the orchestrated press fabrications meant to shift the blame to Ecuador for Colombia’s aggression.
Alberto Maldonado for Argentina’s Argenpress
According the the Royal Academy’s dictionary, the term “brotherhood” has several meanings, but I’ll go for these two: “Guild, company, or union of people for a specific purpose,” and “Group of thieves or pimps.” I’ll leave it to better and more enlightened folks with access to these definitions, to decide which they consider the most appropriate or relevant.
It also seems to me that one must remember that the word “media” is widely used to refer to the positions taken by the media in a system that faces issues and problems which concern public opinion (as well as the system) in any given moment. Of course, this “media position”confronts certain issues or events that are of interest to the prevailing economic and political system (neoliberalism) and leaves the remaining “day to day” news for each medium to select and present opinion about the disparate issues and problems of “common life” (crimes, scandals, denunciations, weather conditions, accidents, disasters, miscellaneous, people, sports, car racing, prostitution, etc.)
The term “Inter-American Pressters” comes from the IAPA acronym which is how the self-proclaimed Inter-American Press Association, an organization created and hosted for the last half-century by the North American CIA and which includes the continent’s major newspapers and magazines, identifies itself. The IAPA orients or disorients public opinion about Latin America as it faces the problems and choices of revolutionary change, or it defends or at least excuses genocidal governments such as that of Pinochet and Uribe. This IAPA sponsors 11 newspapers in our America which identify themselves as “America’s Daily Newspaper Group”* and act as though they are judges and prosecutors of what takes place in our countries, according to whether they support or oppose the “benefits” of a system or the bestialities of its guardians. The dependency of these media on the empire is such that “if the empire pisses on us, they say it’s raining.” Moreover, the IAPA is responsible for the positions taken by television channels who are also dependent on the enormous made-in-USA media conglomerates, which direct the media policies of their subsidiaries. On the radio, the powerful IARA (Inter-American Radio Association) has a great deal of influence over network radio stations. In other words, these days, social communication is confined to a tight media circle in the hands of large or average-sized transnational media corporations and/or businesses, who manage billions of dollars in advertising, the mass media’s main source of income. Is it even possible then, for them to speak independently, objectively, truthfully? Can they be assumed to defend free expression?
For this reason, on fundamental issues or problems that present any risk for the imperial (neoliberal) system, the “Media Brotherhood of Inter-American Pressters” rules by “doctrinal principles” (mandates) that the imperial ideologues have developed. This practice is not a new one: it began after the Bolshevik Revolution (1917) and in Latin America after 1959 when the Cuban Revolution was triumphant, and continues to the present day. SInce 1998, the media crossfire has been concentrated on President Hugo Chávez and his Bolivarian revolution. And since history does not stand still, the newest targets in this mestizo America are Bolivia’s Evo Morales, and Ecuador’s Rafael Correa. What has come to pass in my country (which is the subject of my analysis) is an unequivocal demonstration of how this media brotherhood behaves, on a continental level, when it justifies an unpardonable and well-planned aggression through its reporting.
The memory is fresh in this case. At dawn on March 1, 2007, a rapid response commando team of the Colombian army, using the very latest arms and technology (that only the Yankee army has at its disposal) literally swept a guerrilla camp that had been established clandestinely in the Ecuadoran jungle, 2.7 kilometers from the border. In this “armed action” some twenty insurgents and their leader Raúl Reyes, who’d served as their emissary, were eliminated. All the indications are that this guerrilla leader was negotiating with French, Venezuelan and Ecuadoran contacts on the liberation of eleven more hostages, among them possibly Ingrid Betancourt, the Colombian-French politician who’s been held for 6 years in the Colombian jungle. Uribe and his military intelligence services were aware of these contacts.
On Saturday, March 1, 2008, from the morning on, the news began to circulate in Quito that at a point on the jungle border between Ecuador and Colombia, the “terrorist and criminal” Raúl Reyes had fallen in an “armed action” when he and his men fled seeking “refuge” in Ecuadoran territory. New and sensational news was offered as soon as there was any official communication from Bogotá or from Quito.
When Alvaro Uribe called President Rafael Correa at 7:30 a.m. to inform him that a moving squadron of the Colombian army had gunned down a guerrilla commando who was trying to find refuge, shooting into Ecuadoran territory. He told him that Raúl Reyes, the second in command of the FARC “terrorists” had died, along with his bodyguards. Uribe said that one of his soldiers had fallen and that the armed action had developed in Ecuadoran territory, for which he begged pardon, but said that his forces had had no alternative.
At that point in time, President Correa had no information whatsoever about what had taken place. Neither did his Defense Minister or any other ranking military officer. They called those in charge of the jungle border area in Sucumbíos province and no-one there was aware of any kind of confrontation between regular and irregular forces in neighboring Colombia; even worse should this have occurred in Ecuadoran territory. They received an order to move immediately to the area where, according to Uribe’s report, the incident had taken place. Since the area was (is) difficult to reach, the Ecuadorans were only able to arrive hours later. They found a shocking and heartbreaking scene: trees felled by shrapnel, mutilated bodies everywhere, in pajamas, four or five large holes made by aerial bombs and scattered remnants of whatever a clandestine temporary rest camp might have at hand. The Ecuadoran soldiers found 23 cadavers in all that were collected and brought to Quito, for autopsies and identification. And the most blatant disregard of any humanitarian feeling: three wounded girls who had been abandoned in a field adjacent to the destroyed campsite.
The Reaction of an Honorable President
By Saturday night, Correa had been duly informed by his military commander in the jungle. The reality was that it was a brutal aggression against the guerrilla commander while he slept; and the invaders had not only massacred defenseless victims, but had had time to occupy the place with forces parachuted in, examine bodies, kill the wounded in their agony and take Raúl Reyes and another fallen guerrilla with them. The invading planes had penetrated at least 10 kilometers in Ecuadoran territory in order to attack the guerrilla campsite from its southern flank, and all this was done in the middle of the night when those who were attacked were sleeping.
President Correa understood then that Alvaro Uribe had lied, that he had deliberately deceived, possibly calculating that Ecuador, “understandably” would limit itself to asking for official explanations for the aggression and maybe some kind of formal protest, which Uribe’s diplomats could neutralize without problem, just as had happened in many other aggressions perpetrated against Ecuadoran territory in the extensive border shared by the two countries. Not in their wildest dreams did the invaders believe that President Correa, absolutely sure that he was dealing with a beastly aggression against Ecuadoran territory, would react as any head of state with a minimum of self-respect would react, faced with such an act by his neighbor.
President Rafael Correa’s reaction was swift and firm. In Ecuador of recent times, there’s no memory of a head of state, carrying out such a basic duty as defending the honor and dignity of his country, gravely sullied, as that demonstrated by Correa from Saturday night March 1st, and all of Sunday, March 2nd, 2008. He began to denounce to the country and the world that Colombia had assaulted Ecuador in its sovereign territory, that in reality, military SWAT teams had committed a serious crime for which diplomatic relations would be abruptly terminated with the aggressor, and ordered the expulsion of the Colombian ambassador from Ecuador. Furthermore, he announced that he would be traveling to friendly neighbor countries to denounce what had taken place and ask for solidarity and regional condemnation in the upcoming Rio Group meeting, to take place March 7th in the Dominican Republic. It was a coincidental opportunity which would at least serve for Colombia to beg pardon for its aggression, and more importantly, commit itself to taking no further aggressive action for any reason whatsoever against foreign territory.
The Pressters and National Sellouts Spring to Action
This brief retelling of what happened allows me to situate the respective times and concerted action plans that immediately triggered the Presster Brotherhood’s attempt, on a continental level, to twist and explain the serious events, suffusing everything with a level of intrigue (as in the Colombian telenovelas), in order to maintain that Ecuador “was in fact the aggressor” for having given asylum to the “FARC terrorists” who attacked [Colombia] from Ecuadoran territory.
The media counteroffensive began in Colombia and rapidly spread to Ecuador. The local mass media (particularly the television stations) began to repeat and support the “thesis” and “arguments” that had begun to circulate from Bogotá and that the IAPA and its affiliates distributed profusely around the world. In the aggrieved country (Ecuador) the radio and television journalists, well known for their anti-Correa and anti-Chavista positions not only gave coverage to all these flights of fancy which had been fabricated in Bogotá, they immediately deployed whatever politician or diplomat they could find (unconditionally in favor of the empire and of neoliberalism) to argue against President Correa and his patriotic behavior. With no shame whatsoever, they began to allege that it had been FARC “terrorists” who’d invaded Ecuadoran territory in order to occupy a guerrilla camp that was not a rest camp but a “training” camp, in order to attack the Colombian army. That the Ecuadoran government was committed to the FARC, according to documents that had been found in three super-reinforced computers, that had not only resisted a ferocious bombing but that some extremely clever Colombian geeks had decoded. The pseudo-analysts interviewed capped off their commentary by repeating the Bush doctrine since 9-11: the right of aggression against another country in “self-defense” and for the sake of Colombian “democratic security” action had been taken against “terrorists” who’d established themselves in Ecuadoran territory and for which President Correa “ought to beg pardon from his counterpart in Colombia, Alvaro Uribe, and thank him for services rendered.”
These and other versions, especially the fabrications launched from Bogotá under the pretext of having unlocked the laptops found “intact” in the strafed and bombarded camp, occupied the attention of the television airwaves, without hesitation. The Presster dailies, with some variation and modesty, reported on the beastly aggression and Correa’s attitude, but with little verbal landmines and biases, always trying to create doubt about the unreasonableness of the Ecuadoran attitude. CNN in Spanish, despite the fact that it usually cooks up a thousand and one media positions against anything smelling of change or transformation of neoliberalism, broadcast live and (partially) direct Correa’s declarations as well as those of Peru’s García, Venezuela’s Chávez, and Nicaragua’s Ortega. Ecuador’s commercial channels continued with their normal programming and only mentioned the incident in their news broadcasts. Instead, the Pressters busied themselves circulating versions of emails and reports that Reyes was said to have sent to his counterparts in the FARC central command from the captured “laptops,” and these were repeated various times. One of these lies tossed out the story that Correa and his Security Minister were linked with the FARC to attack Colombia and that Chávez had contributed no less than $300 million to his guerrilla “allies.”
Ecuador’s broadcast television stations did not bother to air the Rio Group session in the Dominican Republic, despite the fact that their President had a role which made Ecuadorans proud, considering that there was no antecedent for a Chief of State defending the national sovereignty and fighting to rescue its honor. But that was of no importance to the Pressters. Better to echo the harebrained versions, one of which was published by Spain’s El País, owned by the PRISA group that not so long ago bought a majority ownership in El Tiempo of Bogotá, one of the IAPA dailies and member of America’s Daily Newspaper Group. It just so happens that a Santos owns the paper; one is Uribe’s Vice President and another his Defense Minister. What did El País say? In an article by a certain correspondent in Bogotá, it claimed there there was a link between the FARC terrorists and Correa’s government and that the terrorists moved about the Ecuadoran side of the border with Colombia as though they were in their own home. From Miami’s El Nuevo Herald (also an IAPA member) it was said that a Mexican professional, of Cuban origin, was the contact and financier for the FARC and had facilitated the visit of five young university students from the National Autonomous University of Mexico to Quito on the pretext that they were going to participate in a congress of the Bolivarian Revolution; but the main implication was that they were actually guerrillas who were part of Reyes’ column. Of course neither of the two versions nor others that ran throughout the continent had a leg to stand on. They were nothing more than fabrications that the (CIA) Pressters in Bogotá and Miami produced with the clear aim of disparaging and disqualifying the Ecuadoran President and giving Uribe-Bush a reason to establish commandos armed to the teeth in Colombia in order to put Chávez in his place and derail the Bolivarian Revolution as well as Correa and his citizens’ revolution. By killing the insurgents the previous day they would prevent a bad example in the region.
In the Ecuadoran case, the Presster onslaught, totally antipatriotic and miserable as it was, did not impact the people. To the contrary, for some time, ordinary citizens have realized that the “large” media are neither democratic nor respectful of free expression, nor with the interests of the majority. Indignant radio audiences, in one of the few radio broadcasters that permit unimpeded views and opinions, have been heard raising their voices against this attitude and asking that the Constituent Assembly at least condemn these traitors and demanding that their nationality be revoked. Something that certainly won’t happen, but it is symptomatic that the Presster Brotherhood has lost its impact and credibility. About time.
*America’s Daily Newspaper Group includes Argentina’s La Nación, Brazil’s O Globo, Chile’s El Mercurio, Colombia’s El Tiempo, Costa Rica’s La Nación, Ecuador’s El Comercio, Mexico’s el Universal, Puerto Rico’s el Nuevo Día, Uruguay’s El País and Venezuela’s El Nacional.