By Wayne Madsen
The Guardian newspaper’s self-proclaimed Venezuela expert Rory Carroll has glibly categorized serious charges that Venezuela’s late President Hugo Chavez Frias was assassinated by a United States-produced bio-weapon as being in the same league with «conspiracy theorists who wonder about aliens at Roswell and NASA faking the moon landings». A number of Venezuelan and international officials believe a hostile party covertly introduced an aggressive form of cancer into the 58-year old president.
Carroll also wrote that Chavez, himself, believed that the cancers that befell former leftist leaders of Latin America, including Argentine President Nestor Kirchner, diagnosed with colon cancer and Brazilian President Ignacio Lula da Silva, treated for throat cancer, were part of a CIA plot directed against left-wing leaders. Curiously, Carroll suggests that Uruguay’s former leftist president, Tabare Vazquez, also recovered from cancer. In fact, Vazquez never had cancer. Furthermore, he is a renowned oncologist trained in France. It was Paraguay’s former president, Fernando Lugo who was ousted in a 2012 CIA-backed right-wing coup, who was diagnosed with lymphoma, cancer of the immune system. Carroll simply proclaims that because all three ex-leaders recovered from cancer, there was nothing to the U.S. cancer assassination weapon story.
Carroll conveniently omitted the cancers that have struck other Latin American leaders, including Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, afflicted with thyroid cancer, and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, struck with lymphoma. After beginning peace talks with the left-wing Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Colombia’s conservative president Juan Manuel Santos was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Venezuela’s acting President Nicolas Maduro charged that Chavez was struck in a «scientific attack» by Venezuela’s «historical enemies».The U.S. State Department claimed the notion was absurd». Russian Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov speculated that is was far from coincidental that six leftist leaders all contracted cancer at around the same time. Cuba’s Fidel Castro, himself the target of several CIA biological assassination attempts, told Chavez: «Chávez take care. These people [the Americans] have developed technology. You are very careless. Take care what you eat, what they give you to eat… a little needle and they inject you with I don’t know what».
Castro almost died from a mysterious stomach and intestinal ailment he contracted after attending a parallel «People’s Summit» held concurrent to the July 2006 Cordoba MERCOSUR (Common Market of the South) Summit with Chavez and Nestor Kirchner. A U.S. Embassy Buenos Aires cable dated July 26, 2006, demonstrated Washington’s displeasure with Castro’s and Chavez’s presence in Cordoba with Kirchner: «What was remarkable about the summit was the degree to which Argentina and Brazil, the two key protagonists in MERCOSUR since its founding, played secondary roles at this summit, while Chavez and Castro dominated». Of the three People’s Summit participants, Kirchner and Chavez are now dead. Kirchner died from a sudden heart attack and Chavez’s aggressive cancer began in his pelvic region.
Chavez said the probability of so many Latin American leaders developing cancer at the same time was «difficult to explain».
General Jose Ornella, the head of the Venezuelan Presidential Guard, said it may be fifty years before details of the «hand of the enemy» in Chavez’s death is disclosed in a declassified document.
General Ornella and others may not have to wait another fifty years for the smoking gun documents on America’s cancer weaponry to be divulged. The records have already been declassified and are available, although many records were destroyed by the CIA under director Richard Helms in the early 1970s.
Although the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, ratified by the United States, the Soviet Union, and Great Britain, banned the use and possession of biological weapons, the Army-Central Intelligence Agency’s Special Operations Division at Fort Detrick, Maryland and the CIA’s Technical Services Department continued to maintain and develop stockpiles of cancer-causing biological agents used in special delivery weapons. The biological agents and their weapons were specifically developed as part of the top secret MKNAOMI project, a joint operation conducted by the CIA and the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick.
But America’s use of cancer-causing biological warfare agents had its start long before the outset of the Cold War and the first victims of such weapons were Latin Americans. In 1931, Dr. Cornelius P. Rhoads, a white racist and anti-Latin American scientist with the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Investigations in San Juan, subjected 13 Puerto Ricans to experiments by injecting them with cancer-causing biological agents. The head of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, Pedro Albizu Campos, also known as «El Maestro,» obtained a letter from Rhoads to a friend in which Rhoads wrote of Puerto Ricans:
«I can get a damn fine job here and am tempted to take it. It would be ideal except for the Porto [sic] Ricans. They are beyond doubt the dirtiest, laziest, most degenerate and thievish race of men ever inhabiting this sphere. It makes you sick to inhabit the same island with them. They are even lower than Italians. What the island needs is not public health work but a tidal wave or something to totally exterminate the population. It might then be livable. I have done my best to further the process of extermination by killing off 8 and transplanting cancer into several more. The latter has not resulted in any fatalities so far . . . The matter of consideration for the patients’ welfare plays no role here – in fact all physicians take delight in the abuse and torture of the unfortunate subjects».
Albizu complained to the League of Nations but it came to no avail. In 1950, Albizu was arrested in a crackdown on Puerto Rican nationalist activities on the island and Albizu was subjected to radiation burns and poisoning. There is little doubt that Rhoads, who directed the Army’s chemical and biological weapons programs at Fort Detrick, the Dugway Proving Ground and Deseret Test Center in Utah, and the Panama Canal Zone, subjected Albizu to revenge experimentation. Rhoads then went on to the staff of the Atomic Energy Commission, which also subjected American citizens to dangerous radiation tests.
Albizu suffered a stroke in prison in 1956. In 1964, he was pardoned but died shortly after his release from prison in 1965. The Guardian, the U.S. State Department, and the Pentagon can harp on all they want about «absurd» charges and «conspiracy theories» but it is a fact that Puerto Rico’s nationalist leader was assassinated by the United States in brutal medical experiments while he was in prison. And if that is what the United States is willing to do to its own citizens, to what have foreign adversaries of the United States been subjected?
MKNAOMI planned to assassinate Fidel Castro and Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba with «exotic» biological weapons. The work on such weapons was carried out by the CIA’s Technical Services chief Dr. Sidney Gottlieb. Other affiliated CIA and U.S. Army bio-warfare weapons programs had the code names of DORK and OFTEN/CHICKWIT.
The National Cancer Institute, while looking for a cure for cancer, spun off an intelligence agency «carve out» project under the Viral Cancer Project that researched military applications for cancer-causing biological agents. The work was centered at Fort Detrick and, after the 1972 Biological Warfare Convention was signed by President Richard Nixon, secret work on «the large scale production of oncogenic and suspected oncogenic viruses» continued with the net result in 1977 being the successful production of 60,000 liters of oncogenic and immunosuppressive viruses. In 1970, the CIA’s Deputy Director for Plans, Thomas Karamessines, recommended that if the proposed Biological Warfare Convention was ratified, the CIA’s stockpile of bio-warfare agents should be transferred from Detrick to the Huntingdon Research Center of the Becton-Dickinson Company, in Baltimore.
The CIA’s and Pentagon’s secret carve out program at Fort Detrick included in its stockpiles botulinum toxins, which can cause deadly food poisoning. Other research included the aerosol transmission of cancer-causing viruses and production of «species jumping» viruses that would jump from animal species to humans with the intent of causing cancer.
One of the first cancer weapon victims of the CIA’s bio-assassination program may have been Angola’s first president, Agostinho Neto.
Neto, who was targeted by the CIA in violation of congressional prohibitions, quickly developed cancer in 1979 and died in a Moscow hospital before the age of 57. Another CIA victim may have been former Chilean President Eduardo Frei, who became an outspoken adversary of the CIA-installed dictator General Augusto Pinochet. Frei died in a Santiago hospital on January 22, 1982 after contracting a suspicious infection after routine surgery.
The CIA pioneered in the use of cancer-causing agents that could infect their victims through injection; inhalation; skin contact through contaminated clothing, especially underwear – Chavez’s formation of aggressive in his pelvic region is germane in this respect; and contact with the digestive system through the use of contaminated food, drink, and even toothpaste.
There is such a wealth of documentation on the CIA’s use of cancer weapons against its enemies that the existence of such weapons is not the issue. The only issues are for Venezuela and other victimized countries to determine how the cancer-causing agents were delivered and the identities of the assassins and would-be assassins.