Drug War on trial
By Chuck Armsbury, Senior Editor
turns accuser as NarcoNews.com publisher Al Giordano prepares
to put the War on Drugs on trial in a New York State courtroom.
Actually, Giordano and his drug war news service, The Narco News
Bulletin, are the 'accused', or defendants, in a lawsuit (case
# 00 Civ 8941 HB, Southern District of New York) filed last August
by the Banco Nacional de Mexico, or Banamex. At issue is Giordano's
detailed exposure of Banamex as a leading money-laundering bank
for kingpin drug traffickers. Razor Wire readers may recognize
Giordano and NarcoNews.com as sources for stories we've carried
in past issues about the drug war in Mexico, Colombia and elsewhere
in North and South America.
Roberto Hernández Ramírez, president of Banamex,
complains that plantiffs Giordano, Mario Renato Menendez Rodriguez
and the Narco News Bulletin, collectively, are not just exposing
money laundering corruption north and south of the border but
are, in fact, defaming Ramirez and Ban-amex with "prospective
economic advantage" in mind. Ramirez, through attorneys,
complains that this alleged 'extortion' arises out of "a
coordinated campaign by Defendants to impugn Banamex and the
management of its business through knowing false statements of
fact. In a series of personal appearances in New York, and in
writings that originated here, Defendants have maliciously smeared
Banamex with accusations that, among other things, it is controlled
and operated by narcotics traffickers and has engaged in illegal
activity. Defendants' assertions, which are provably false, have
caused Banamex to suffer serious damage to its reputation, including
pecuniary harm. Banamex brings this action to clear its name
in New York of the Defendants' false and malicious accusations,
and to recover compensation for its injuries." (quoted from
opening page of lawsuit).
Giordano insists that Banamex is trying to bury the accusations
that have been published in various media about him for drug
trafficking and money laundering. The lawsuit, filed in the New
York Supreme Court, is an attempt to "silence and discredit
us in order to discredit the published accusations, since he
already doesn't have the elements to refute the facts upon which
the reports that accused him were based," said Giordano
in a recent interview with writer Beatriz Fregoso.
The former Boston Phoenix journalist who now writes from 'somewhere
in America' warns that the case is going to be politicized. "We
have all the elements for that: international narco-trafficking,
money-laundering, government persecution against journalists
and photographs of cocaine containers in the pristine coastal
lands of Quintana Roo that belong to the banker."
"The Banamex owner wanted to silence us," he said,
"and what he is going to succeed at doing is to place the
narco-system and its bastard child, the war on drugs, in the
seat of the accused." Soon the parties will begin to spar
and maneuver in court, but there will be no pre-trial conferences.
Giordano insists no 'deals' will be made, saying that, "Roberto
Hernández has already lost in advance because he has failed
to silence us."
He stressed that the banker knows that neither of the accused
journalists has the money needed to mount a defense to this lawsuit.
"This lawsuit is about harassment and intimidation. The
fact that to defend oneself from any lawsuit in New York costs
hundreds of thousands of dollars," he said, adding that
the cost of court documents alone is going to cost him around
And why hasn't Banamex sued media like El Universal, AP, the
Wall Street Journal, the Boston Phoenix or the Village Voice
that published the same facts? "Because they know they have
a weak case, and anyone with a minimum capacity to pay for a
legal defense can prove it," Giordano said. Banamex is aware
Al and Mario have little money, but rumor is they may attract
some renowned legal help for the battle as it heats up in court.
Most appetizing to Giordano is the possibility of putting the
war on drugs in the seat of the accused. Giordano explains: "In
the United States, to win a lawsuit for libel, they need to prove
malice on the part of the accused. As I see things going, I think
that Mario and I might spend days and days in the witness chair
to explain all that we knew about this theme. In this sense,
a lot of information that is unknown or ignored about drug trafficking
and its complicities is going to come to light in New York."
Asked if he was disposed to come to a legal agreement with Banamex
outside the court if Ramirez solicits that at some point, Giordano
said firmly, "No deals: I don't make deals with these kind
of people. I have to preserve my integrity."
For information and updates go to: www.narconews.com