Hugo Chávez: Victim of US Germ Warfare?

Venezuela Vice-President Nicolás Maduro said on March 6th, just hours after President Hugo Chávez death, that the US might have infected their president with poisonous bacteria. He also expelled two US diplomats for planning yet another coup with rightist anti-Chávez Venezuelans. Is the current transitional president crazy, as Western elitists claim?

It is not as though the US never uses bacteriological warfare to murder, or attempt to murder its enemies—most having democratically chosen leaders—as well as spreading diseases that randomly kill or disable masses of people, kill their animals and destroy crops. Genocide!

In July 2006, documents released by the United States government revealed that the CIA had plotted assassination. Dr. Sidney Gottlieb played a role in the CIA’s attempt to assassinate Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba of the Congo; he took a vial of poison to the Congo with plans to place it on Lumumba’s toothbrush in the summer of 1960. Gottlieb transported these ‘toxic biological materials’ to the CIA station in the Congo, though a military coup deposed the Prime Minister before agents could deliver the poison.1

“U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower had said “something [to CIA chief Allen Dulles] to the effect that Lumumba should be eliminated.” This was revealed by a declassified interview with then-US National Security Council minute keeper Robert Johnson released in August 2000 from Senate intelligence committee’s inquiry on covert action. The committee later found that while the CIA had conspired to kill Lumumba, it was not directly involved in the actual murder.”

In 1975, the Church Committee went on record with the finding that Allen Dulles had ordered Lumumba’s assassination as “an urgent and prime objective.”

“Furthermore, declassified CIA cables quoted or mentioned in the Church report and in Kalb (1972) mention two specific CIA plots to murder Lumumba: the poison plot and a shooting plot Although some sources claim that CIA plots ended when Lumumba was captured, that is not stated or shown in the CIA records.”2

In Counterpunch’s story “CIA’s Sidney Gottlieb: Pusher, Assassin & Pimp: US Official Poisoner Dies,” it is stated:

By the early 1960s Gottlieb’s techniques and potions were being fully deployed in the field. Well-known is Gottlieb’s journey to the Congo, where his little black bag held an Agency-developed biotoxin scheduled for Patrice Lumumba’s toothbrush. He also tried to manage Iraq’s general Kassim with a handkerchief doctored with botulinum and there were the endless poisons directed at Fidel Castro, from the LSD the Agency wanted to spray in his radio booth to the poisonous fountain pen intended for Castro that was handed by a CIA man to Rolando Cubela on November 22, 1963. [A poisoned cigar was another of hundreds of plots to murder Fidel Castro.]

In my book, Backfire: The CIA’s Biggest Burn, I reported how Cubela, a Cuban CIA agent, was handed “a ball-point pen fitted with a fine hypodermic needle that a victim could not feel upon penetration of his skin. Cubela was to use a lethal poison, Blackleaf-40” to murder Fidel Castro.

Cubela met in Paris with his handler, CIA’s Cuba project task force chief, Desmond Fitzgerald. At the close of this meeting, the assassins learned that President Kennedy had been murdered that same day. It has been well exposed that the CIA was one of three groups that murdered Kennedy, the same groups which on several occasions tried to murder Fidel. The others were the Mafia, kicked out of Cuban black profiteering operations by Fidel, and disgruntled Cuban exiles in the US.

Cubela was later captured through information obtained by Cuba’s counter-intelligence agency. Cubela’s code name for the CIA was AM/LASH. He admitted his role in assassination attempts and received 15 years imprisonment. In part of testimony, he asserted that he arrived in Cuba with a new plan to “shoot Premier Castro with a high-powered telescopic rifle and later share in top posts of a counter-revolutionary regime.”

Iraq’s Kassin must be eliminated

The CIA attempted to assassinate General Abd al-Karim Kassin following a 1958 anti-monarchy coup he led against King Faisal 11. The US viewed the king as an important ally, and once Kassim became prime minister the US sought to assassinate him using a Gottlieb plan with a poisoned handkerchief. Among Kassin’s “crimes” was support for the Algerian and Palestinian against France and Israel.

Kassin’s policies included many that Hugo Chávez undertook, such as land reform introduced to benefit small farmers. Education and social welfare were increased for ordinary people. Women were granted greater equal rights. Kassin, like Chávez, especially irritated US corporations and their governments by nationalizing oil for greater national income and widespread distribution.

In September 1960, Prime Minister Kassin demanded that the Anglo American-owned Iraqi Petroleum Company (IPC) “share 20% of the ownership and 55% of the profits with the Iraqi government. Then, in response to the IPC’s rejection of this proposal, Kassin issued Public Law 80, which would have taken away 99.5% of the IPC’s ownership and established an Iraqi national oil company to oversee the export of Iraqi oil. British and US officials and multinationals demanded that the Kennedy administration place pressures on the Qasim regime.”3

While the CIA did not succeed in murdering Kassin, they aided national efforts to overthrow him. Ironically, one of the leaders was Saddam Hussein—“the Ba’ath Party leadership was planning to assassinate Qasim. Saddam Hussein was a leading member of the operation.”3 After invading Iraq, in 2003, the US eventually captured Hussein and had him hung.

CIA Bacteriological warfare against Fidel and Cubans at random

In 1987-8 I interviewed many Cubans, and a Frenchman living in Cuba, who had been recruited by the CIA to spy on Cuba’s government and to carry out sabotage, including attempts to assassinate President Fidel Castro. Some of the plans and attempts included poisons and bacteriological warfare. The CIA spread various diseases, some by using infected birds and weather manipulation, which resulted in the random murder of hundreds of ordinary people, destroyed massive crops, and caused the death of hundreds of thousands of animals, especially pigs and turkeys.

In Cuba, I was allowed access to CIA-introduced spying apparatuses. I saw secret messages that the CIA sent to its supposed Cuban spies. Cuba’s intelligence service followed CIA agents, working in the US Interests Section in Havana, whom they photographed and even recorded when meeting with their assumed agents. These moles were able to divert many murderous planned attacks on the people, on their animals and crops, and on the life of Fidel.

Cuba’s government presented its knowledge beginning on July 6, 1987. The stories of 27 double-agents were broadcast on television. I soon began my research and interviews. My book, Backfire, was published by Cuba’s foreign publishing house, Editorial José Martí, in 1991. Here are some excerpts:

Backfire: The CIA’s Biggest Burn

backfire_DV“The Senate Committee to Study Government Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities held hearings in September 1975 into CIA usage of poison dart guns, manufacture and storage of diverse lethal toxins, and the destruction of records of their venomous activities.

“DCI William Colby testified but would not explain why his Company had secretly kept 10.9 grams of lethal shellfish toxin—a much larger amount than needed for experiments—as part of a poison project known by the code name MK Naomi.

“Colby also demonstrated the use of a black pistol with telescopic sight, which could shoot poison darts accurately at a distance of about 100 meters…he admitted the weapon was designed to kill an enemy silently without leaving a trace.”

The Los Angeles Times wrote, on September 22, 1975, congress had acquired evidence “that CIA poison capsules figured in an abortive plot to kill Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro in 1960 or 1961. Similar pills were forwarded to an African agent about this time for use against the late Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba.”

Fisherman Juan Luis Acosta Guzmán was the first of the 27 double agents to come out of the cold, in 1987. The CIA gave him the code name Àngel. He was known as Mateo by Cuban intelligence.

On Cuban TV, Acosta said:

I had two friends who worked on boats used by Cuban leaders for fishing and diversion…The CIA wanted me to get a job on these boats. They told me I’d receive all the money I wanted, and all their assistance, if I could help with this very, very special project. They thought they could produce a sickness in Fidel that would kill him slowly, leaving no trace.

CIA officer Rudy Herrera talked to me about this in Las Palmas, in April 1985. ‘Look, we are most interested in eliminating Fidel. We win 90% of the battle against Cuba by eliminating him.’

The CIA “wanted me to get on a boat that took our Commander-in-Chief out fishing and skin diving. They wanted a man who could throw something in the water near Fidel. Later, he could become unnoticeably sick, and die in two or three years. So that was my task.”

“When Rudy Herrera and I finished our talk, he raised his glass in a toast. ‘Let us toast now for the next time we meet when we can toast to the non-existence of Fidel Castro.’”

While the CIA failed in its hundreds of plans and attempts to “eliminate” Fidel, it was more successful in murdering ordinary people, animals and crops.

“Message 40Xpossibility of learning what types of Dengue is known in Cuba X Details about what virus sicknesses affect the population X Medicines Cuba imports X Countries X Greetings X Julia.”

“Dengue fever type 2 broke out in Cuba two months after this CIA message was sent, on February 16, 1981, to María Santiesteban Loureiro, agent Regina to the CIA”; agent Any to Cuba’s intelligence service.

This dengue fever type, and type 1 infiltrated earlier, killed 158 persons, including 101 children, before they could be controlled.
“On April 6, 1981, agent Regina received another message asking about infectious diseases, including hemorrhagic conjunctivitis. By September, 143,643 people were sick…within two months, 600,000 cases were treated.”

Over one million cases of conjunctivitis, one tenth the population, had been affected by the eye disease before Cuba could eliminate the disease. The CIA repeatedly told its agents, many of them working for Cuba clandestinely, to obtain all possible information about its effects and if treatment was effective or not.

Authors Warren Hinckle and William Turner (a former FBI officer) wrote in The Fish is Red about the CIA’s “nefarious list of subversive techniques biological and weather warfare.”

The CIA was able to destabilize Cuba’s food crops in 1969-70 with futuristic weather modification. Planes from the China Lake Naval Weapons Center, in the California desert flew over Cuba “seeding rain clouds with crystals that precipitated torrential rains over non-agricultural areas and left cane fields arid,” Hinckle-Turner wrote. Killer flash floods were the result in some areas causing crucial export income losses.

Sudden outbreaks of sogata rice blight occurred in 1971; African swine fever (1971 and 1979), sugar cane rust and smut (1978-9), blue tobacco mold (1979), Newcastle disease that killed at least 8000 turkeys (1962 and 1982), and coffee smut (1983). These diseases caused serious loss of thousands of hectares of farm land. The blue mold losses alone were over $250 million.

The way these diseases spread was atypical, and several had never appeared in Cuba before. CIA case officers asked their Cuban agents about these diseases, sometimes even before they appeared. Cuban intelligence could record 200 such inquiries just between 1980 and 1986.

Sugar industry advisor Orlando Argudín López, one of the 27 moles, was told by his CIA handler, Bernardo, in Paris, in May 1979, that the CIA was introducing diseases to affect people and animals.

“Bernardo assured me he was optimistic about the results,” Argudín told Cuban news bureau National Information Service (AIN). On other occasions, Argudín was asked about sugarcane blights, smut and rust.

Cuba’s dean of double agents, Ignacio Rodríguez-Mena, a Cuban Airlines chief steward and instructor and a former professional baseball player for the Washington Senators, told me that the CIA was keen for him to assess damage done by plagues, and about the state of Fidel’s health.

“My handler, Nicolás, asked me in Madrid’s Hotel Sideral to get close to places where I could plant a virus. They asked me if we carried pesticides or other chemicals on our flights, which could combat the germ carrying mosquitoes” and how Cuba combated swine fever. “The wanted whatever I could give them so they could trace the producer-seller of these products, in order to stop them from selling to us, or to sabotage them.

“When they found out where we bought the containers for fumigating mosquitoes that carry the dengue fever, they convinced the producer to make them without the head of the fumigator, rendering the equipment useless. How far does their arm reach?”

Some Cuban terrorists, such as Rolando Cubela, working for the CIA from Miami were involved in spreading diseases that could kill people at random. Eduardo Victor Arrocena Pérez had been head of the counterrevolutionary terrorist group, Omega 7, which the CIA funded. He was one of the few terrorists in the US actually tried for a terrorist crime, that of the assassination of Cuban diplomat Félix García, September 11, 1980, in New York City. He later admitted to more than a dozen sabotage actions in Cuba using dynamite.
At his murder trial, he testified, September 10, 1984, that the CIA had given him chemicals to be introduced into Cuba with the objective of producing lethal sicknesses.

The 91st session of Congress, meeting in November 1969, disclosed that the US had plans to use biological warfare against the Cuban people. On September 16, 1977, the Washington Post reported that the CIA “maintained a clandestine anti-crop warfare research program targeted during the 1960s at a number of countries throughout the world.”

Former CIA officer John Stockwell, who left the CIA in 1977, wrote the book, In Search of Enemies. He was interviewed on Cuban television, September 28-9, 1987:

He said that the US had even released viruses in several US cities to observe how the population was affected. The Congress investigated the CIA’s MK Ultra program and found that the CIA leaked a virus from a ship in San Francisco to “see the impact on the population.”

“It is quite possible that the CIA was experimenting with biological warfare germs in Africa and Haiti, and the germs changed form, developing into the AIDS epidemic… AIDS is a virus similar to the one that killed your swine,” he told the Cuban people.

This account does not go into many other forms of US sabotage, assassination attempts against Fidel, and the murder of Cuban people, nor in other countries such as previously in Nicaragua and currently in Afghanistan, much of the Middle East and coming to Africa. But if the US is willing to use poisons to try to kill individual leaders they dislike in several countries, why not introduce a cancer germ into the person of their arch enemy Hugo Chávez? I Have a Dream Obama has access to genocidal bacteriological weapons.

  1. Dr. Sidney Gottlieb citing the Senator Frank Church-led Senate Committee to Study Government Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities. 111. Assassination Planning and the Plots, Congo. Citing the Senator Frank Church-led Senate Committee to Study Government Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities. []
  2. See “In Dulles’ own words,” William Blum, Killing Hope. See also, “Mr. Garsin from Kinshasa: Tempelsman’s Man Weigh in on the Murder of Patrice Lumumba,” Susan Mazur and also “CIA’s Sidney Gottlieb: Pusher, Assassin & Pimp: US Official Poisoner Dies.” []
  3. See: Abd al-Karim Qasim, and the Church Committee findings: Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (20 November 1975), “C. Institutionalizing Assassination: the ‘Executive Action’ capability,” Alleged Assassination Plots involving Foreign Leaders, p. 181. [] []

Ron Ridenour is a veteran journalist and author of nine books, the latest is Tamil Nation in Sri Lanka. Read other articles by Ron, or visit Ron's website.