Magic laptops gunning for Obama

Okay, Machetera “borrowed” this artwork from her friend Borev. But it’s just too good not to be used again and again…

How to Turn Chávez Into a Terrorist in Two [Short] Months

Pascual Serrano – Diagonal

Translation: Machetera

Colombia’s bombing of a FARC camp in Ecuador set off a real media war. Any similarity between the mainstream media version and reality is purely coincidental.

First they said Chávez was a dictator, but that didn’t convince anyone, considering that he was the president who’d won more elections than anyone in the Americas. Then they said he was armed to the teeth and a danger to the region’s stability, but the truth is that Chávez never used a single weapon outside his own country. So the latest tactic has been to turn him into a terrorist through a two month long media operation. Let’s review the chronology of the operation and compare each event as reported by the Media Axis (El País, El Tiempo, The Wall Street Journal, Colombia’s President Uribe, the White House) with what actually happened.

March 1

MEDIA AXIS VERSION: The Colombian Army attacked a FARC camp, in hot pursuit near the Ecuadorean border. The news is at the forefront of international press headlines.

THE REAL VERSION: At 3 in the morning, while everyone was sleeping, the Colombian Army bombed a camp sheltering the FARC’s international representatives. It then invaded Ecuadorean territory, going two kilometers inside the country. Three Mexican students from a delegation that was interviewing the [FARC] commander Raúl Reyes were also killed. U.S. technology and missiles were used and those wounded who remained were shot and killed. The guerrilla group was in Ecuador to negotiate with French authorities for the liberation of Ingrid Betancourt. The death of Reyes put an end to that. All of these facts emerged later, a little at a time, and barely managed to make the inside pages of the papers. Another detail to keep in mind is that the daily El Tiempo is owned by the Santos family, and its director, Enrique Santos is the brother of the Colombian Defense Minister, Juan Manuel Santos, and the cousin of the Colombian Vice President, Francisco Santos.

May 9 & 10

MEDIA AXIS VERSION: On May 9, The Wall Street Journal said it had access to documents sourcing from Raúl Reyes computer which confirmed that Chávez sent money to the FARC. The news was repeated in the El Tiempo newspaper and all the international news agencies. The following day, May 10, El País in Spain, said it had also had access to the Raúl Reyes documents and headlined its story “FARC Documents Implicate Chávez.” Again El Tiempo repeated the news.

May 15

Interpol publishes its report about the supposed computers of Raúl Reyes

May 16

MEDIA AXIS VERSION: U.S., Spanish and Colombian press headlines say that the Interpol report reveals that the computers did belong to the FARC and had not been manipulated by Colombian authorities. El País asserted that “according to the police agency, Venezuela financed the FARC.”

THE REAL VERSION: The Interpol report made no reference at all to the contents of the files since, as it clarified at the outset, the IT experts who conducted the investigation “came from outside the region and didn’t speak Spanish” (they were Asian) in order to “eliminate the possibility that they might have been influenced by the contents of the data they were analyzing.” The report confirmed that thousands of files had a false date,

  • 2,110 files with creation dates ranging between 20 April 2009 to 27 August 2009
  • 1,434 files which show as having been last modified between 5 April 2009 and 16 October 2010

and that the three computers, two external hard disks and USB thumb drives were connected after the attack and before being delivered to forensic IT investigators for the Colombian police. Interpol therefore denounced the fact that “Access to the data contained in the eight FARC computer exhibits…did not conform to internationally recognized principles for handling electronic evidence by law enforcement,” even pointing out that after March 1, 2008, while the computers were in the hands of Colombian authorities in other words, it found 273 system files were created, 373 system and user files were accessed, 786 system files were modified, and 488 system files were deleted. In regard to where the computers came from, the report begins with the clear statement that “the verification of the eight seized FARC computer exhibits by INTERPOL does not imply the validation of the accuracy of the user files, the validation of any country’s interpretation of the user files or the validation of the source of the user files.”

That same day, the Summit between Latin America and the Caribbean and the European Union was held in Lima. The affair of the FARC computers and the accusations against Chávez dominated the briefing agenda.


The development of the distributed information shows clear coordination between U.S. media such as The Wall Street Journal, El País and El Tiempo. It’s evident that El Tiempo distributed government leaks about the circumstances surrounding the attack, all of which were subsequently found to be untrue. Therefore a strategy was at work between the international friendly media who received the leaks and distributed the supposed contents of the computers. This is how the Media Axis made up of the El Tiempo-El País-Wall Street Journal trio operated. In other words, the Colombian newspaper tied to the government; the Spanish one, which aspires to owning a broadcast television station in Colombia; and the U.S. paper responsible for global economic information, which represents the conservative U.S. ideology. A well-greased machine to convince the world that Chávez is a terrorist. After all, it worked very well in Iraq, where Saddam was accused of links with Al Qaeda.


The emergence of computers, hard disks and flash drives in perfect condition after the bombing, has provoked a chain of humorous comment in Venezuela. The writer Roberto Hernández Montoya has pointed out that the computer’s “casing, a combined alloy of lead with a bit of reinforced titanium, makes it invulnerable to all kinds of missiles, cluster bombs, smart bombs and every other kind of weapon prohibited by international arms agreements. You die in a flash and the computer lives on like a grape, producing materials at its new users’ command.” There’s been no lack of people saying that it wouldn’t be at all surprising if further on, some White House spokesperson should refer to the “sinister” links between Obama and the FARC, since that is what the computer documents say in response to his declarations that he would be willing to “maintain direct discussions with the leaders of countries such as Iran, Syria, Cuba or Venezuela.” In a humorous vein, the Association of Victims of Raúl Reyes’ Computer has been created, where the first activity will be a storytelling event, where people will be asked to submit stories as implausible as those appearing in the Reyes computer, with the most incredible and inexact of the stories winning the prize, which will be, what else, a computer. There’s even a parody on state television that presents a computer, rescued completely dry from the Titanic at the bottom of the Atlantic, which holds information about Uribe’s relations with people outside the law.

Pascual Serrano is a journalist. He has just published “Violent Media. Words and Pictures For Hate and War” May 2008, El Viejo Topo

Machetera is a member of Tlaxcala, the network of translators for linguistic diversity. This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator are cited.

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