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« 24 arrested at land occupation in Oaxaca | Main | General Strike - Nov. 2 - Occupy Oakland »

October 12, 2011


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Tio Al is such a megalomaniac to think that Narco News is immune to his own criticisms. This article is nothing more than a gossip column and a sorry piece of journalism. At least gossip columns publish the names of the people being talked about. Giordano didn't, knowing that some people would easily be able to accuse him of defamation.

Dude, one thing that comes out clear from your rant is that you don't understand Spanish very well, as it was Sicilia himself who raised these points about "annihilating discourses" of the left, when he said, quoted in Giordano's article:

“Se nos ha criticado mucho, en la interpretación de la prensa, que esta caravana a diferencia de la caravana del norte han hablado muchas organizaciones y lo que le da fuerza a la caravana es la visibilización de las víctimas de la guerra, de los dolores. Evidentemente el lenguaje de las víctimas, nuestro lenguaje, se expresa con el corazón, con el dolor, con lo humano, por desgracia el lenguaje de las organizaciones no se ha renovado, se expresa con la consigna, con lenguajes anquilosados que borran lo humano y el agravio que está detrás de esos discursos… Las organizaciones por desgracia no se renuevan en sus discursos, y a fuerza de ideología terminan por velar la demanda profunda, el agravio profundo, la frescura de las de las víctimas inmediatas que hemos perdido un hijo, que buscamos a un desaparecido o perdimos a un familiar tenemos esta humanidad.”

This was translated accurately as:

“We have been criticized a lot, in the press’s interpretation, that in this caravan, in contrast with the Northern Caravan, many organizations have spoken and what gives strength to the caravan is the visibility it brings to the victims of the war, to their pain. Evidently, the language of the victims, our language, is expressed with the heart, with our pain, with what is human, and unfortunately the language of the organizations has not been renovated. It is expressed with the slogan, with annihilating language that erases what is human, and erases the grievances that are behind those speeches… The organizations disgracefully haven’t renovated their speeches. Force and ideology end up disappearing the deep demands, the deep grievances, the freshness of the most recent victims that have lost a child, of we who seek a disappeared family member or have lost a family member have this humanity.”

Now, tell us the truth: You really have a problem with that, don't you? Thought so. And that explains your tantrum here. It would figure that a guy who calls himself "Angry White Kid" would feel all defensive over the well delivered critique!

"Occupy Your Street" - what is the point you are trying to make?

A) I speak Spanish, in fact you'll note that the majority of posts on here are translations I've done. But that's completely irrelevant as Al's piece was in English. So thanks for posting what was already readily available.

B) It may be Sicilia's word, but Al turned it into a dishonest, irresponsible diatribe, which is what I was responding to.

That "doesn´t understand Spanish very well" comment is not only irrelevant, but an attempt to divert attention from the main point of the article. By the way, it's typical of the tactics Giordano uses to discredit anybody who criticizes him.

Why do I get the feeling Occupy Your Street is actually Al Giordano?

Good piece.

Occupy Your Street:
Regardless of what Sicilia said, that doesn't give Al Giordano license to unilaterally determine which victims of violence are right (Sicilia, the woman from Huajuapan) and which victims of violence (Omar Esparza, the Cruz family, Brad Will) are wrong.

Why is it that the only Oaxacan victim of violence that Al Giordano mentions that he doesn't criticize is a woman whose son died in Tamualipas, not Oaxaca? Al Giordano seems to have something against people who lost loved ones to political violence in Oaxaca.

And his criticisms conveniently leave out important details- for example, the "UABJO student" that he criticizes for questioning Sicilia's kissing of politicians is not just any UABJO student. She's Kerly Cruz, daughter of Emeterio Cruz, a victim of state violence. If two Mexican victims of violence, Kerly Cruz and Javier Sicilia, want to have an exchange in Spanish where they respectfully question tactics in a movement they both have a vested interest in, I see no problem with that. But when some gringo like Al Giordano swoops in and takes advantage of the fact that many of his readers don't speak Spanish and he starts manipulating the facts to set up false dichotomies within the movement (because don't forget, Omar Esparza participated in the first dialogue with Calderon as a member of the movement) and then attacking the straw men he himself set up, that to me seems to be the sort of "imperialist" behavior that Al Giordano was trying to criticize. Except when Al Giordano accuses other people of criticizing the movement, it's imperialism and when he's doing it, he's the movement's fearless defender.

And Narco News should lay off Brad Will. The poor guy is dead. It's really low to criticize a guy who can't defend himself because he's dead. Anyone who wants to lay any blame at all on Brad Will for what happened to him or what happened to Oaxaca after he was killed could use the same line of logic to blame Sicilia's son for his own murder and for the military operations that occurred afterwards in Cuernavaca and for the government torturing one of the suspects in the murder.

"Occupy Your Street", since you want to play who can speak spanish better, let me point out and translate the very next thing Sicilia said in that speech in Puebla that you wrote.

"Yo quisiera aclarar, podemos cuestionar, yo mismo lo cuestiono, el discurso ideológico de las organizaciones, lo que no podemos cuestionar son las causas profundas, además hay que trabajar mucho por sumergirse en el discurso para ver que también hay víctimas, yo creo que las víctimas, nosotros las víctimas de esta guerra absurda, las víctimas se han organizado, las víctimas del ejército o de la policía, las víctimas de la guerra, son consecuencia de las víctimas de estas... se expresan las organizaciones que son las víctimas de un ancestral problema de orden estructural que tiene que ver con lo económico."

"I would like to clarify, we can question, and I do question, the organizations' ideological discourse, but what we cannot question are the underlying causes. It's important to work hard to get below the discourse and see that there are also victims. I believe that we the victims of this absurd war have organized ourselves, the victims of the military or the police, the victims of war, are consequences of the victims of these... the organizations express that they are victims of an ancestral problem of structural order that has to do with economics."

The ... is when Sicilia lost his place in his speech.

It seems to me that Sicilia is arguing that the organizations are victims too, and that the media needs to recognize that they're victims and ease up a little. If you listen to the audio of his speech here: it sounds as though the paragraph cited by Giordano and "Occupy Your Street" is Sicilia summarizing what the media has said, that they're not necessarily his own beliefs. The paragraph I translated is unquestionably Sicilia's beliefs, because it's the first time he uses "yo."

¿Who the hell does Giordano think he is to call down Omar Esparza for not saying the name of his wife in a speech? Did he totally miss the fact that the whole day in Huajuapan was dedicated to Betty Cariño and that Omar spoke about her several times during the day? And if he hadn't felt like talking about her at all, ¡¿what business is that of a third rate gringo reporter?!

Some of you are really really REALLY upset over an article which I actually took the time to read, enjoyed, and in fact doesn't say the things you people are yelling about. Giordano gives a detailed analysis of different sectors and tendencies in the peace caravan, does not "attack" or "call down" anyone, but examines the impact of very different discourses on public opinion. That you're upset over it only underscores the reason so many of us read Narco News: we like writers to give us insights on events we might not have had without hearing other points of view. It's clear there has been a lot of "bad behavior" by foreigners in Mexico, none of you deny it, and I suspect that some of the people commenting here must worry that their own actions will get more scrutiny because, face it, so many of us do like and support the journalism of Giordano and Narco News writers. If it didn't have a large readership, you wouldn't be crying so loudly. I've been following them since they were sued by Banamex and won free speech rights for the rest of you. That was ten years or more ago. If Giordano is "under your skin" to the point of making your comments so enraged, it seems some of you should take a chill pill and look in the mirror at why his very even-handed critique bothers you personally so much. Is it because deep inside you know that your own behaviors haven't been so great for Mexican movements? Your tone suggests that strongly.

And if you're yelling because you haven't read his article, but believe Scott's over-the-top distortion of it, maybe you should start over again by reading it:

Hi everyone,

I actually hadn't read Narco News until someone sent me this article, and you'll all forgive me if I actually think that the author (Al Giordano?) is actually right. Let me explain.

When I moved to Mexico ten years ago, I actually didn't follow politics that much, but I gradually became a huge fan of Mexican social movements and for me, the APPO represented a beautiful expression of humanity the likes of which I had never seen. I am from Oklahoma, and well, just lets say I had never seen anything like it.

In fact, so many social movements seemed to arrive at a kind of "climax" in 2006, and then, after so much painful repression and what seems to have been a stolen election, many of those movements fell silent because their members had to go into hiding, or because - even more tragically - they simply didn't know how to respond to the horrible chapter of history that unfolded once Calderon unleashed his unfettered Drug War on the Mexican people.

The fact is, the mess we are in now in Mexico is much worse than it was BEFORE 2006, and the same social movements that reached such great heights in 2006 have been unable to organize the masses, and that is precisely what we need to do if we are to pull the rug from under the Drug Warriors.

Before you guys pile on this writer (Giordano) please remember that this is his central point: that the highly dogmatic language of so many movements in Oaxaca is simply no longer appealing to the vast majority of Mexicans, it is precisely that majority that we need to organize.

As a person who came late in life to politics, that is what I gain from Sicilia's movement: the protagonists aren't seasoned activists, who many times lose sight of what brought them to the "lucha" to begin with. The protagonists in this movement are regular people whose lives were detroyed by violence.

These new organizers are RENEWING the left, not destroying it!

I think this article was awesome and I think unfortunately you guys are missing the point. Just saying.

Okie in Mexico

Mr. Campbell's approach is to use personal attacks and "annihilation rhetoric" to argue his points, the very approach he wrongly accuses Mr. Giordano of utilizing. What's worse, Mr. Campbell does it from the perch of an imagined fundamentalist Left that we must not only accept exists outside of his mind, but that has also anointed him as its premier speaker on this matter. His blog on this topic has the effect, at least for me, of working against his objective. It actually convinces me even more so of the correctness of Mr. Giordano's analysis of the matter — an analysis informed by shoe-leather reporting, an endeavor I sense Mr. Campbell believes can be matched by resorting to pompous prose.

"Occupy Your Street" - Your attempts to threaten and/or shame commenters on a blog post is truly pathetic.

"Freedom of Thought" - Your comment is so far off-base that it doesn't even make sense. I do however wish my role as premier speaker for the fundamentalist left paid better.

"Okie in Mexico" - My article wasn't about the left or Sicilia. I agree that many on the left are dogmatic. My point is that Giordano creates a false and inaccurate distinction between Sicilia and every other group and movement on the left. Then on top of it he falsely accuses people of doing what he himself is doing, interjecting as a gringo in Mexico to label some people acceptable and others as undesirable. Really, Giordano's ability to throw together inaccuracy, false accusations and hypocrisy into one article is quite impressive.

Also noteworthy is despite the lengthy comments by Giordano supporters, not a single one of his errors or his egregious behavior as pointed out by either myself or other commenters has been responded to. Do you all find his mistakes and behavior acceptable?

What doesn't make sense, Angry White Man, is that you actually would imply that you should be paid for writing this worthless screed. You divide the world into them and you and expect people to take you seriously.

As far as responding to your comments concerning Giordano's alleged "egregious behavior," you again make my point for me, a point you don't have the honor to admit outright. You are not engaging here on ideas; you are engaging in personal attacks on Giordano, a time-tested tactic of the right wing.

I fear with people like you in charge of the thought police, the world would be a far, far worse place for all of us. But in your case, at least, that won't happen. Like Iggy Pop said, "you're a loser for a reason."

Scott - You really should calm down. Were you one of the foreigners who engaged in specific behavior cited by that article? That would explain you taking it so personally. Or maybe one of your friends got written about? That's what this thing seems like to me, because you claims about "falsely accusing" and "label some people acceptable and others as undesirable" and this strange belief you have that the article criticized "every other group and movement on the left" are not backed up once one reads the article that has you so angry. It sounds like somebody's feelings got hurt and you're lashing out.

The only error you cite in the article has to do with what acronym is the right one for a Oaxaca activist's organization. (I get them mixed up, too, it's hardly a "gotcha" moment if you found one error in a long essay, because the points being made didn't hang on whether a guy belonged to one organization or another.) Your claim that it's AGAINST THE ENTIRE LEFT is entirely invented (I read the same article and saw many good words written about most sectors of the left - people who run around chanting the slogans cited are not a majority of "the left" and you should know better than to claim that - your claim is a much larger error than a confusion between acronyms of small organizations).

In fact, you are acting exactly like the people the article criticizes. It's obvious you're trying to drum up a lynch mob by shouting this "Gordiano verses THE LEFT" thing, but it's still a lie no matter how often or loudly you repeat it. It's been Narco News that has reported and defended the APPO, the EZLN, the Atenco movement and others when they were attacked, and defending Sicilia and his movement now when they are attacked seems to be consistent with a publication that is just as much "the left" as you claim to be (maybe more so, really, now that I think about it).

I am reminded of a passage in that article about some "gringos" who posed as Mexicans online to say that another guy was not welcome in Mexico due to some factional fight. Isn't that what you're trying to do here? But I suspect that Giordano and Narco News have stronger roots and alliances with more of "the left" in Mexico than you'll ever have (and nationwide, as well) and that's why you and your friends are acting so hysterically.

Occupy Your Street and Freedom of Thought: You guys are hysterical. If you have such a great understanding of these issues and you see fit to make all kinds of ad hominem attacks on the blog author, why not use your real names? Wait, I think I know why... see previous comment.

It seems to me that Scott Campbell's article is an astute, well-reasoned piece of criticisms about some totally out-of-line actions of Al Giordano in Mexico. And he bends over backwards not to turn his piece into a personal attack. But even a little bit of criticism seems to be too much for AG in double his guise as Occupy your Street and Freedom of Thought.

First we're treated to a condescending sermon about calming down and not being so hysterical, and then we get a spiffy little self-promo piece for AG- Narco News.

Curiously enough, we're told that personal attacks are "a time-tested tactic of the right wing" before we get a tirade about how Scott Campbell doesn't really understand Spanish, is too angry for his own good, engages in "over the top distortions", "annhilation rhetoric" and pompous prose", is "in charge of the thought police", is "trying to drum up a lynch mob", is "acting hysterically" along with other readers who are "really, really, REALLY upset", "yelling" and "making enraged comments". Did we read the same thing? ¿Thought police? ¿A lynch mob? Is this guy for real? Are we on the same planet? Who's enraged here and why?

It seems that Al Giordano thinks he has the right to go to Oaxaca, say whatever derrogatory things he wants to about Omar Esparza, Kerly Cruz, Vocal, Brad Will, Mumia Abu-Jamal, and several unidentifed people, but if anybody says anything about it he flies into a despotic rage and smears the person who speaks up.

AG may just be an egomaniatical asshole as many people say, but his imperialist meddling and attempts to divide movements are probably more tied to all those ICNC funds he's getting.

It's pretty childish when an anonymous commenter ("reader") complains about... anonymous comments! Doing that while making his/her own! That sounds par for this miniature golf course. "Why not use your real names?" says "reader."

Hmmmm. Maybe "reader" is Giordano? Posing as one of his critics to discredit them? If so, he'd be doing a pretty good job of it, as "reader." If not, then "reader" is an example of revealing self-parody.

I assume that if Scott allows (and moderates, and approves) anonymous comments that none of us are required to give our names. And who would blame anyone for not doing so, since this entire article is a personal attack followed by paranoid accusations of "threats" where there have been none, and by expressions of tremendous frustration that nobody has succeeded in shutting up or censoring the object of their obsessions? I figured that after Banamex failed to shut Giordano up that it would be futile for anybody to attempt to do so. I also think that is one of his best qualities, by the way, that he means what he says and doesn't pander to us readers no matter who screams what about it.

Seems quite likely to me as well that "Occupy Your Street" is Al, hence I did interpret this as a threat: "I suspect that some of the people commenting here must worry that their own actions will get more scrutiny..." Comments such as that and the one above show he continues to play at the game he condemns in his article of creating paranoia and distrust.

On another note, looks like I and the other commenters here are not the only ones bothered by Al's article:

Al Giordano hace una critica a la APPO, Vocal, Omar Esparza, al municipio autónomo y a la hija de Emeterio

"¿Quien es este señor y de donde toma la autoridad moral y politica para criticar las diferentes formas de lucha que hay en Oaxaca?"

I've had this feeling all along that Campbell's whole line of argument resonates with an elitist academic tone that views the world through the lens of a master's thesis. But I didn't know how correct I was until I, by chance, ran across a posting by a Scott Campbell on a NYU-related Web site, a university that Campbell just happens to have attended as a graduate student. Hmmm....

From that posting:

… Finally, the part that adds an extra layer for my thesis project is the human component. Remember that even if all you are doing is talking to another human being and using that person as a source for your thesis, then you likely need approval from the University Committee on Activities Involving Human Subjects and NYU's Institutional Review Board.

… think about the impact it may have … on your thesis if at any time they decide to revoke their participation.


Now that's a bit callous, no? And seems to go to the heart of the advice [not threat] Campbell mentions in his latest retort — which he unfairly attributes to his human subject, Giordano. Wonder if he got university approval for that hit job and if he really thought out how it would affect his thesis?

"Paper Chase" aka "Freedom of Thought" - really, you had a very specific feeling and then just by chance happened across an obscure blog that confirmed it? Sure ya did.

Though it's cute that first you appoint me premier speaker of the fundamentalist left, then head of the thought police, and now indict me for the terrible deed of having an MA.

Congratulations on being able to use Google. Not sure what else your comment proved. But I am flattered you're spending your time looking for me on the internet.

Well, I can only hope that your voyeuristic adventures in Mexico in pursuit of advancing your degree and status in academia by exploiting the lives of your "human subjects" has not led to the revocation of anyone's life there.

I don't think you would have the street smarts to see the danger you have put people in by interloping in their struggles.

You see, I think Giordano had it right about folks like you. Scott Campbell is only concerned with the people's struggle as long as it also promotes the interests of Scott Campbell. In that respect, you truly have earned a master's degree and the hollow flattery that comes with it.

But I wouldn't expect you to see or understand that, given you are blinded by your own ego -- and your writing reflects that reality.

Now, get on with your snide comments. Regardless, I expect readers will see the truth in the words I have written. You've already let them know that you are enamored of your own cockalorum.

One can always count on Giordano to deliver those who lost their livelihoods or their lives, or family members, another kick in the balls. Smearing a filmmaker who lost his life, chastising a man who lost his wife for not being emotional enough when he gives a speech - there's really no depth to which he won't sink. And the irony of he himself being just another gringo with no skin in the game being down there telling others not just how to act but also how to express their feelings of course fully escapes him, busy as he is with his export business of questionable non-violent protest theory.

For all his talk about "authentic", his only visible interest when he writes pieces like these is not if he's right, but if he can get away with it. He doesn't make an argument; he spins prosecutor courtroom theories - also evidenced by the fact that he never ever will readdress a subject when time, or others, has proven him wrong.

Like when he defended tooth and nail each and every decision and appointment by the new Obama administration and would simply vilify anyone who questioned such figures as Eric Holder being appointed. I hope I don't need explain this any further.

Or when he, not even that long ago, went through great lengths ridiculing those who would even suggest that maybe the Egyptian army was not really the friend of the people as he was proclaiming. Well, look at Egypt now, and how friendly the army treats the citizens - without so much as a whisper from their Mexico based gringo apologist.

I used to contribute to Narco News, but abandoned it when yet another time Giordano found it necessary to call me a "DEA snitch" when he lost an argument about the repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell". It's the kind of mudslinging he resorts to even without there being a factual basis for it (I've never done anything for the DEA, and less so snitching) and that seems to be an integral part of his brand of journalism. It's sickeningly dishonest, really.

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