Message to the Grass Roots: CIA Influx of Cocaine = Genocide

An episode of Message to the Grass Roots, a cable access talk show produced & hosted by Michael Zinzun from 1988-1998 at Pasadena Community Access Corporation, which is now Pasadena Media.

00:00Copy video clip URL Title opening with theme music.

00:34Copy video clip URL Open to the studio. Host Michael Zinzun introduces the program along with guest speakers.

02:20Copy video clip URL First roll-in footage shown. Oliver North testifies before the Iran-Contra congressional hearing. The footage documents an exposé on the Central Intelligence Agency’s backing of the Contras in Nicaragua, a counter-revolutionary right-wing rebel group that sought to destabilize the socialist Sandanista National Liberation Front government. Edgar Chamorro, former Contra leader, talks about his involvement leading the Contra counter-revolution and widespread practice of deceiving the United States Congress to hide covert operations. John Stockwell, former CIA covert specialist, describes the situation in Nicaragua. Under president Ronald Regan, Stockwell says, “They are, in fact, giving the Contras written instructions in violence and destabilization.” The purpose, Stockwell continues, is to traumatize the Nicaraguan people and to target the social infrastructure.

04:35Copy video clip URL Return to studio. Zinzun asks the guests to speak about the impact of the influx of crack cocaine in local communities and its connection to international affairs such as CIA involvement with the Contras in Nicaragua. Bilal Sunni Ali talks about the destabilization of Black communities and increase in violence and death as a result of the government influenced influx of crack cocaine in Los Angeles.

07:29Copy video clip URL Guest Mabie Settlage examines how international politics connects local politics and the hypocrisy of responsive engagement by the Left. Settlage further relates the effects of de-industrialization and community level alienation and trauma.

09:22Copy video clip URL Clip from the second roll-in footage.

09:45Copy video clip URL Following a technical interruption of the roll-in footage, video returns to the studio. Zinzun summarizes the creation of a drug supply chain in connection with the Iran-Contra scandal and its devastation in Black communities. Zinzun raises the question of how to find solutions for the many complex social and economic issues facing Black communities.

12:13Copy video clip URL Call from viewer “Abdullah” comments on the hypocrisy of American foreign policy and capitalism’s exploitation of labor for profit.

14:00Copy video clip URL Second roll-in footage resumes. Peter Dale Scott, professor and author,  comments on the Congressional investigation into the Iran-Contra affair. The CIA’s establishment of a “Southern Front.” Stockwell describes the drug trafficking that took place between CIA bases in Costa Rica and the United States. Gary Betzner describes his work as a pilot for George Morales, smuggling weapons and cocaine from Costa Rica to the United States through CIA operative John Hull’s ranch in Costa Rica.

16:54Copy video clip URL Return to the studio. Guests respond to “Abdullah’s” phone call.

21:14Copy video clip URL Third roll-in clip. Michael Zinzun interviews Gary Meyer, co-producer of the film Cover Up. Meyer describes footage from a testimony by Ramon Milian-Rodriguez, a former chief accountant for the Medellin cocaine cartel in Colombia, in a sub-committee hearing on narcotics trafficking conducted by then Senator John Kerry. Next, a clip from “The CIA’s Favorite Airline” by Ellin O’Leary and Stephen Talbot. Footage of Col. Robert Dutton testifying before a congressional committee. An anonymous pilot from Southern Air Transit talks about the connection between the airline and weapons transport.

25:32Copy video clip URL Return to the studio. Guests comment on the targeting of Black communities through the drug and weapons trade.

28:52Copy video clip URL Commercial break. Public service message from Musicians for Life and the National AIDS Network featuring the musical group Los Lobos.

29:24Copy video clip URL Ad from Direct Impact, a non-profit organization advocating Pro-Choice abortion policies.

30:00Copy video clip URL Ad from The National Arbor Day Foundation in support of Rain Forest Rescue.

30:29Copy video clip URL Ossie Davis featured in an endorsement for Message to the Grassroots.

30:52Copy video clip URL Ad for the African Marketplace in Pasadena, CA.

32:12Copy video clip URL Return and theme music to Message to the Grassroots. Ali continues discussing disparities in enforcement of drug laws and regulations. He connects the targeting of youth and the presence of crack cocaine in local communities with the role of youth in mobilizing social movements.

35:42Copy video clip URL Call from a viewer named “Gordon” asking for information about how to connect with local activist organizations.

36:58Copy video clip URL Fourth roll-in video. Footage of James Simmons, Paralegal with the Federal Public Defender’s Office, discussing the effects of the influx of drugs in local communities. Daniel Sheehan, founder of the public interest law firm Christic Institute, describes the influence and massive sums of money involved in the drug trade. Video returns to Zinzun interviewing Simmons on the everyday impact of the drug trade in communities.

40:38Copy video clip URL Return to the studio. Settlage views through the cultural lens of popular music the change in generational outlook between the 1960s and the 90s.

43:11Copy video clip URL Fifth roll-in video. Footage of Zinzun interviewing Gary Meyer on media coverage of those involved in international drug trade as well as the suspension of constitutional rights.

45:34Copy video clip URL Return to studio. Ali talks about responses to the CIA’s involvement in the drug trade offered by various community leaders and politicians.

48:52Copy video clip URL Another roll-in video. Footage of Japanese internment camps in the United States. Sheehan talks about the suspension of constitutional rights justified by the federal government under a state of national emergency. The conversion of the Federal Emergency Management Agency into a domestic anti-terrorism unit. Jim Hirschberg of the National Security Archives on North’s blurring of emergency management and suppression of political dissent. Rep. Jack Brooks (D-Texas) questions North in a congressional hearing about North’s involvement in a classified contingency plan to suspend the constitution in the event of a major disaster.

51:42Copy video clip URL Zinzun makes demands of the United States government for injustices caused by the Iran-Contra affair and the influx of weapons and drugs into Black communities and other local communities in the United States. Ali calls for a progressive economic plan in local communities. Settlage responds. Zinzun then concludes the program with a collective call to action. He briefly acknowledges the death of Tupac Shakur, paying condolences to Shakur’s remaining family.

57:32Copy video clip URL Concluding clip from the Iran-Contra hearings. Rep. Brooks cites a list of illegal and covert activities conducted under North’s supervision.

58:23Copy video clip URL Credits



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