Monday, January 19, 2004


I had a feeling this was going to happen. Big Left Outside has responded to DRC Net's recent admonition to hold the applause for Venezuelan decrim. It's quite a response indeed.

The good news is that Giordano stands by his earlier post and asserts that decrim is a done deal in Caracas.

When the Chavez administration puts forward a reform, it gets approved. It's been a "done deal" for four years! That's because the Venezuelan people gave it an absolute majority in Congress in the 2000 elections.

And neither does Al see the pending referendum on Chavez' government as an obstacle to either the legislation or to Chavez' continued rule.

Even at face value, the reform is on a track that precedes "this summer," six months away. And, fact is, that the proposed referendum may well, if it happens, take place well after this summer.

Or, as Charlie Hardy, the Wyoming Cowboy in Caracas, reported on Narco News (see Participatory Democracy in Venezuela, October 17, 2003), it might not happen at all because the opposition that claims to want a referendum doesn't really want it (the "opposition" knows that it will lose). Anybody with any eyes and ears on the ground in Venezuela, who is honest, and smart, will tell you the same.

The bad news is Giordano didn't stop there. He went on to make some pretty serious ad hominem attacks on the DRC Net team and since Al opened up the discussion; I guess I'm going to weigh in.

In the spirit of full disclosure for those who are new arrived at Last One Speaks, I'm a long time supporter of Al's work and his vision for authentic journalism. I've known him for many years and consider him a treasured friend. I barely know Dave Borden but I've spent enough time with Phil Smith at the conferences to consider him more than a casual acquaintance and to have formed an opinion about his character.

It's like I used to tell my bickering patrons when I was a bartender, "Call me Switzerland. I like everybody." What I don't like however, is this tiffing that seems to have been ongoing since last February in Merida. I don't know what happened there. I was like a kid at the circus for the first time, everything seemed grand and wonderful. I'm sure the logistical nightmare of organizing an event over three days in three languages produced more than a little tension behind the scenes. But enough is enough.

I agree that DRC should have credited and linked to the source when they disputed Big Left Outside's story. I don't know why they didn't. I'd like to give them the benefit of the doubt and believe they thought it was more politic to handle it that way. They were wrong - it was impolite - but I think Al's response is over the top as well.

I'm reminded of Ethan Nadelmann's opening remarks at the DPA conference to the effect that sometimes we know our fellow reformers so well that we hate them. That's okay. We don't have to like each other but we do need to work together to end this insane war on some drugs. It's easy to forget but there are still not that many of us, certainly not enough to fracture our common cause over personal quarrels. These ad hominem attacks serve no one but the prohibitionists.

So Al, I'd like to remind you of your own words:

They thought they could gag us, but our truth, together with your truth, makes a bigger truth that will now place the narco-system in check.

We all have our own truth and just because DRC Net was wrong in their assessment of the situation, doesn't make them evil men with some malevolent intent to undermine reform. With due respect dear friend, I think our cause would be better served by keeping the civility in 'civil society'.


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