Foreign Policy News Stories
Why Are We Really In Somalia?
''THE OIL FACTOR IN SOMALIA"
by Mark Fineman; Los Angeles Times, 1/18/93
MOGADISHU, Somalia-Far beneath the surface
of the tragic drama of Somalia, four major U.S. oil companies
are quietly sitting on a prospective fortune in exclusive concessions
to explore and exploit tens of millions of acres of the Somali
That land, in the opinion of geologists
and industry sources, could yield significant amounts of oil and
natural gas if the U.S.-led military mission can restore peace
to the impoverished East African nation.
According to documents obtained by The
Times, nearly two-thirds of Somalia was allocated to the American
oil giants Conoco, Amoco, Chevron and Phi]lips in the final years
before Somalia's pro-U.S. President Siad Barre was overthrown
and the nation plunged into chaos in January, 1991. Industry sources
said the companies holding the rights to the most promising concessions
are hoping that the Bush Administration's decision to send U.S.
troops to safeguard aid shipments to Somalia will also help protect
their multimillion-dollar investments there.
Officially, the Administration and the
State Department insist that the U.S. military mission in Somalia
is strictly humanitarian. Oil industry spokesmen dismissed as
"absurd" and "nonsense" allegations by aid
experts, veteran East Africa analysts and several prominent Somalis
that President Bush, a former Texas oilman, was moved to act in
Somalia, at least in part, by the U.S. corporate oil stake.
But corporate and scientific documents
disclosed that the American companies are well positioned to pursue
Somalia's most promising potential oil reserves the moment the
nation is pacified. And the State Department and U.S. military
officials acknowledge that one of those oil companies has done
more than simply sit back and hope for peace.
Conoco Inc., the only major multinational
corporation to maintain a functioning office in Mogadishu throughout
the past two years of nationwide anarchy, has been directly involved
in the U.S. government's role in the U.N.-sponsored humanitarian
Conoco, whose tireless exploration efforts
in north-central Somalia reportedly had yielded the most encouraging
prospects just before Siad Barre's fall, permitted its Mogadishu
corporate compound to be transformed into a de facto American
embassy a few days before the U.S Marines landed in the capital,
with Bush's special envoy using it as his temporary headquarters.
In addition, the president of the company's subsidiary in Somalia
won high official praise for serving as the government's volunteer
"facilitator" during the months before and during the
Describing the arrangement as a "business
relationship," an official spokesman for the Houston-based
parent corporation of Conoco Somalia Ltd. said the U.S. government
was paying rental for its use of the compound, and he insisted
that Conoco was proud of resident general manager Raymond Marchand's
contribution to the U.S.-led humanitarian effort.
John Geybauer, spokesman for Conoco Oil
in Houston, said the company was acting as "a good corporate
citizen and neighbor" in granting the U.S. government's request
to be allowed to rent the compound. The U.S. Embassy and most
other buildings and residential compounds here in the capital
were rendered unusable by vandalism and fierce artillery duels
during the clan wars that have consumed Somalia and starved its
In its in-house magazine last month, Conoco
reprinted excerpts from a letter of commendation for Marchand
written by U.S. Marine Brig. Gen. Frank Libutti, who has been
acting as military aid to U.S. envoy Robert B. Oakley. In the
letter, Libutti praised the oil official for his role in the initial
operation to land Marines on Mogadishu's beaches in December,
and the general concluded, "Without Raymond's courageous
contributions and selfless service, the operation would have failed."
But the close relationship between Conoco
and the U.S. intervention force has left many Somalis and foreign
development experts deeply troubled by the blurry line between
the U.S. government and the large oil company, leading many to
liken the Somalia operation to a miniature version of Operation
Desert Storm, the U.S.-led military effort in January, 1991, to
drive Iraq from Kuwait and, more broadly, safeguard the world's
largest oil reserves.
"They sent all the wrong signals
when Oakley moved into the Conoco compound," said one expert
on Somalia who worked with one of the four major companies as
they intensified their exploration efforts in the country in the
"It's left everyone thinking the
big question here isn't famine relief but oil-whether the oil
concessions granted under Siad Barre will be transferred if and
when peace is restored," the expert said. "It's potentially
worth billions of dollars, and believe me, that's what the whole
game is starting to look like."
Although most oil experts outside Somalia
laugh at the suggestion that the nation ever could rank among
the world's major oil producers-and most maintain that the international
aid mission is intended simply to feed Somalia's starving masses-no
one doubts that there is oil in Somalia. The only question: How
"It's there. There's no doubt there's
oil there," said Thomas E. O'Connor, the principal petroleum
engineer for the World Bank, who headed an in-depth, three-year
study of oil prospects in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia's northern
"You don't know until you study a
lot further just how much is there," O'Connor said. "But
it has commercial potential. It's got high potential... once the
Somalis get their act together."
O'Connor, a professional geologist, based
his conclusion on the findings of some of the world's top petroleum
geologists. In a 1991 World Bank-coordinated study, intended to
encourage private investment in the petroleum potential of eight
African nations, the geologists put Somalia and Sudan at the top
of the list of prospective commercial oil producers.
Presenting their results during a three-day
conference in London in September, 1991, two of those geologists,
an American and an Egyptian, reported that an analysis of nine
exploratory wells drilled in Somalia indicated that the region
is "situated within the oil window, and thus [is] highly
prospective for gas and oil." A report by a third geologist,
Z. R. Beydoun, said offshore sites possess "the geological
parameters conducive to the generation, expulsion and trapping
of significant amounts of oil and gas."
Beydoun, who now works for Marathon Oil
in London, cautioned in a recent interview that on the basis of
his findings alone, "you cannot say there definitely is oil,"
but he added: "The different ingredients for generation of
oil are there. The question is whether oil generated there has
been trapped or whether it dispersed or evaporated."
Beginning in 1986, Conoco, along with
Amoco, Chevron, Phillips and, briefly, Shell all sought and obtained
exploration licenses for northern Somalia from Siad Barre's government.
Somalia was soon carved up into concessional blocs, with Conoco,
Amoco and Chevron winning the right to explore and exploit the
most promising ones.
The companies' interest in Somalia clearly
predated the World Bank study. It was grounded in the findings
of another, highly successful exploration effort by the Texas-based
Hunt Oil Corp. across the Gulf of Aden in the Arabian Peninsula
nation of Yemen, where geologists disclosed in the mid-1980s that
the estimated 1 billion barrels of Yemeni oil reserves were part
of a great underground rift, or valley, that arced into and across
Hunt's Yemeni operation, which is now
yielding nearly 200,000 barrels of oil a day, and its implications
for the entire region were not lost on then-Vice President George
In fact, Bush witnessed it firsthand in
April, 1986, when he officially dedicated Hunt's new $18-million
refinery near the ancient Yemeni town of Marib. In remarks during
the event, Bush emphasized the critical value of supporting U.S.
corporate efforts to develop and safeguard potential oil reserves
in the region.
In his speech, Bush stressed "the
growing strategic importance to the West of developing crude oil
sources in the region away from the Strait of Hormuz," according
to a report three weeks later in the authoritative Middle East
Bush's reference was to the geographical
choke point that controls access to the Persian Gulf and its vast
oil reserves. It came at the end of a 10 day Middle East tour
in which the vice president drew fire for appearing to advocate
higher oil and gasoline prices.
"Throughout the course of his 17,000-mile
trip, Bush suggested continued low [oil] prices would jeopardize
a domestic oil industry 'vital to the national security interests
of the United States, 'which was interpreted at home and abroad
as a sign the onetime oil driller from Texas was coming to the
aid of his former associates," United Press International
reported from Washington the day after Bush dedicated Hunt's Yemen
No such criticism accompanied Bush's decision
late last year to send more than 20,000 U.S. troops to Somalia,
widely applauded as a bold and costly step to save an estimated
2 million Somalis from starvation by opening up relief supply
lines and pacifying the famine-struck nation.
But since the U.S. intervention began,
neither the Bush Administration nor any of the oil companies that
had been active in Somalia up until the civil war broke out in
early 1991 have commented publicly on Somalia's potential for
oil and natural gas production. Even in private, veteran oil company
exploration experts played down any possible connection between
the Administration's move into Somalia and the corporate concessions
"In the oil world, Somalia is a fringe
exploration area," said one Conoco executive who asked not
to be named. "They've over-exaggerated it," he said
of the geologists' optimism about the prospective oil reserves
there. And as for Washington's motives in Somalia, he brushed
aside criticisms that have been voiced quietly in Mogadishu, saying,
"With America, there is a genuine humanitarian streak in
us...that many other countries and cultures cannot understand."
But the same source added that Conoco's
decision to maintain its headquarters in the Somali capital even
after it pulled out the last of its major equipment in the spring
of 1992 was certainly not a humanitarian one. And he confirmed
that the company, which has explored Somalia in three major phases
beginning in 1952, had achieved "very good oil shows"-
industry terminology for an exploration phase that often precedes
a major discovery-just before the war broke out.
"We had these very good shows,"
he said. "We were pleased. That's why Conoco stayed on....The
people in Houston are convinced there's oil there."
Indeed, the same Conoco World article
that praised Conoco's general manager in Somalia for his role
in the humanitarian effort quoted Marchand as saying, "We
stayed because of Somalia's potential for the company and to protect
Marchand, a French citizen who came to
Somalia from Chad after a civil war forced Conoco to suspend operations
there, explained the role played by his firm in helping set up
the U.S.-led pacification mission in Mogadishu.
"When the State Department asked
Conoco management for assistance, I was glad to use the company's
influence in Somalia for the success of this mission," he
said in the magazine article. '1 just treated it like a company
operation-like moving a big rig. I did it for this operation because
the [U.S.] officials weren't familiar with the environment."
Marchand and his company were clearly
familiar with the anarchy into which Somalia has descended over
the past two years-a nation with no functioning government, no
utilities and few roads, a place ruled loosely by regional warlords.
Of the four U.S. companies holding the
Siad Barre-era oil concessions, Conoco is believed to be the only
one that negotiated what spokesman Geybauer called " a standstill
agreement" with an interim government set up by one of Mogadishu's
two principal warlords, Ali Mahdi Mohamed. Industry sources said
the other U.S. companies with contracts in Somalia cited "force
majeure" (superior power), a legal term asserting that they
were forced by the war to abandon their exploration efforts and
would return as soon as peace is restored.
"It's going to be very interesting
to see whether these agreements are still good," said Mohamed
Jirdeh, a prominent Somali businessman in Mogadishu who is familiar
with the oil concession agreements. "Whatever Siad did, all
those records and contracts, all disappeared after he fled....
And this period has brought with it a deep change of our society.
"Our country is now very weak, and,
of course, the American oil companies are very strong. This has
to be handled very diplomatically, and I think the American government
must move out of the oil business, or at least make clear that
there is a definite line separating the two, if they want to maintain
a long-term relationship here."
Fineman, Times Bureau chief in Nicosia,
Cyprus, was recently in Somalia. Copyright, 1993, Los Angeles
Times. Reprinted by permission.
by Rory Cox; Propaganda Review, Number 10, Page 42
Could the preponderance of images of starving
Somalis all over the major media outlets during the end of 1992
and the first half of 1993 have been just a more refined and cynical
method of selling yet another war for oil? The US/UN military
involvement in Somalia began in mid-November, yet it wasn't until
January 19, Bush's last day in office, that the LA Times' Mark
Fineman came out with an article that revealed the oil connection
in Somalia. According to the piece, nearly two-thirds of the land
in Somalia was allocated to Conoco, Amoco, Chevron, and Phillips
in the years before President Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown
While State Department and oil industry
spokesmen dismiss as "absurd" and "nonsense"
allegations that oil was even in part a motivating factor behind
Operation Restore Hope, the oil industry's role in Somalia paints
a different picture. If peace is restored to Somalia, geologists
see a potential bonanza of untapped oil resources. According to
a 1991 World Bank-coordinated study, geologists put Somalia and
Sudan at the top of the list of perspective oil resources.
Conoco is the only major multinational
corporation which has maintained an office in Mogadishu throughout
the past two years. In what Conoco is describing as a "business
relationship," the Conoco office is now serving as a de facto
US Embassy. Some may see this as a blurred line separating Conoco
and the State
Department; Conoco sees it as being a
"good corporate citizen and neighbor." Further blurring
that line, the president of the Conoco Somalia office, according
to the Times, "won high official praise for serving as the
government's volunteer 'facilitator' during the months before
and during the US intervention."
This petroleum dimension to Operation
Restore Hope points to a rather cynical scenario. Certainly there
is nothing new about famine in Africa, and while any country as
well-fed as ours should feel compelled to offer aid, using military
force as a means to feed the hungry seems uncharacteristically
During the build-up phase of Operation
Desert Shield, the threat to US oil supply was initially given
as a rationale by Bush. That trial balloon sank fast in the public
opinion polls, however, and was quickly forgotten as stories of
Iraqi atrocities in Kuwait began to surface. Nevertheless, "No
blood for oil" was the rally cry amongst the opposition.
Could this be why the State Department
hasn't even mentioned the oil prospects of Somalia? Or why Fineman's
story isn't on the front page of the LA Times or any other US
paper? In the beginning days of Operation Restore Hope, opposition,
even on the left, was minimal, as it's hard to oppose the idea
of feeding the hungry. Would that have been different had the
oil connection been made earlier?
The Hidden Tragedy of Chernobyl Has Worldwide
"CHERNOBYL - THE HIDDEN TRAGEDY"
by Jay M. Gould; The Nation, 3/15/93
A heartbreaking report on the hidden dimensions
of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, written by the Ukrainian nuclear
physicist chosen to "liquidate the consequences" of
the accident, was published last year in Germany. The book, Chernobyl:
Insight From the Inside (Springer-Verlag, Berlin/New York), may
never be published in Ukraine or Russia, and the author, Vladimir
Chernousenko, now dying of radiation poisoning along with thousands
of others involved in the emergency cleanup, was dismissed from
his post at the Ukrainian Academy of Science for telling the truth
about the accident's catastrophic effect on Soviet society.
Chernousenko's treatment was reminiscent
of that accorded to the Soviet Union's greatest scientist, Andrei
Sakharov, who was also punished for revealing the lethal effects
on the immune system of ingesting food or water containing man-made
nuclear fission products.
In his 1990 Memoirs Sakharov writes that
he came to the conclusion that the nuclear bomb was primarily
a biological weapon. After the success of his 1955 H-bomb test,
he worried more and more about the biological effects of nuclear
tests....The long-term biological consequences (particularly atmospheric
testing, in which radioactive fallout is dispersed throughout
the hemisphere) can be predicted and the total number of casualties
calculated with some accuracy.
Considering only such fission products
as radioactive carbon, strontium and cesium, he calculated that
genetic damage, plus the immediate and delayed damage to immune
systems, would accelerate the deaths of between 500,000 and I
million people worldwide for every fifty megatons of nuclear explosive
power. An important consideration was what he termed "non-threshold
effects," by which he meant that every radioactive particle
released had a statistical probability of doing damage to either
the DNA of a cell or to the immune system, by low-level internal
radiation from ingesting such particles. He also predicted that
radiation would accelerate the mutation of microorganisms, leading
to the inference that persons with damaged immune systems would
in time succumb more easily to these new strains of infectious
Chernousenko's revelations about the health
effects of the Chernobyl accident validate Sakharov's ominous
predictions. He begins by demolishing many Chernobyl myths propagated
by the Soviet authorities and eagerly accepted by the international
nuclear establishment. The accident, he says, was not the result
of operator error but was caused by major flaws of design present
in fifteen other Soviet reactors that are still in operation.
In contrast to the widely accepted belief that only thirty-one
people died from exposure to radiation in the effort to contain
the emissions, Chernousenko asserts that between 7,000 and 10,000
volunteers were killed.
But his most serious charge is that the
accident released the lethal contents of 80 percent of the reactor
core rather than the 3 percent figure announced to the world.
Chernousenko estimates that the radioactivity released was equivalent
to more than one curie for every person on earth, i.e., more than
I trillion picocuries per capita, to use the unit in which radioactivity
concentrations in milk and water are customarily measured. The
radiation released was roughly equivalent to the explosion of
1,000 Hiroshima bombs.
Chernousenko offers the first set of figures
available on the great wave of morbidity that swept through the
Soviet population after Chernobyl. The fallout was concentrated
mainly in the three Soviet republics of Belarus (formerly Byelorussia),
Ukraine and Russia, where the bulk of the emissions settled on
more than 100,000 square kilometers. But the reluctance of the
Soviet authorities to recognize the true extent of the contamination
of farmland resulted in the shipment of contaminated food and
grain to all the former Soviet republics, thus spreading radiation
Public health surveys in which Chernousenko
participated revealed that in Belarus, which was hardest hit,
there is hardly a child who is not suffering from some immune
deficiency disease, either cardiovascular, Iymphoid or oncological;
most of these children are unable to attend a full day in school.
A 1989 public health survey indicated that in the three biggest
provinces of Ukraine every second adult was ill. In Ukraine and
Belarus, the incidence of immune deficiency diseases has doubled
or tripled since 1985 and is now spreading to all other areas
that have been consuming radioactive food. Confirmation of this
finding came in a letter endorsed by World Health Organization
officials that was published in the September 3, 1992, issue of
Nature. The letter revealed that the incidence of thyroid cancer
cases among children in Belarus rose from two in 1986 to fifty-five
in 1991. Similar extraordinary increases in children's thyroid
cancer were reported in Gdansk, Poland, using the same World Health
Chernousenko suggests that Chernobyl's
massive secondary insult to human immune systems literally sickened
Soviet society. Effects of the Chernobyl accident were even apparent
in the small but statistically significant excess mortality in
the United States in May 1986 that was noted by myself and Dr.
Ernest Sternglass and published by the American Chemical Society
in January 1989. Our findings have never been challenged. Similar
observations on excess infant mortality immediately after the
arrival of Chernobyl radiation in southern Germany were made by
Professor Jens Scheer of the University of Bremen and published
in the November 4,1989, Lancet.
Sakharov's thesis received other confirmations
in a report by a Canadian pediatrician, Dr. R.K. Whyte, published
in the February 8, 1992, British Medical Journal, attributing
some 320,000 excess neonatal deaths (babies dying within the first
month) since 1950 in the United States and Britain to fallout
from nuclear bomb testing. Low birthweight is the largest single
cause of neonatal mortality, and a review of data on the percentage
of live births in New York State of babies weighing less than
5.5 pounds reveals a rise from about 6 percent in 1945 to a peak
of 8 percent in 1966, when the buildup of strontium-90 in the
bones of New York adults reached an all-time high. When the United
States first transferred bomb testing from the Pacific to the
Nevada Test Site in 1951, the percentage of low birthweight infants
in Nevada that year rose by 70 percent!
It now seems clear that the atmospheric
bomb tests caused sufficient harm to developing hormonal and immune
systems to justify Sakharov's fear of future immune deficiency
epidemics. Radiation physicists Sternglass and Scheer point out
that the AIDS epidemic first emerged during the early 1980s in
the high rainfall areas of Africa that twenty years earlier registered
the highest levels in the world of strontium-90 in human bone
after receiving heavy fallout from the atmospheric bomb tests.
They conclude that fallout is a factor in the impairment of immune
response that can show up when young adults encounter the newly
mutated strains of sexually transmitted viruses.
In the 1980s, concomitant with the continued
routine and accidental emissions from military and civilian reactors,
mortality rates were on the rise in some major nuclear nations,
reversing the declines registered in the 1970s. Data on civilian
reactor emissions of radioactive iodine and strontium, published
each year by the Brookhaven National Laboratory, indicate that
from 1970 to 1987 some 370 trillion picocuries of these deadly
fission products were released into the atmosphere, enough to
expose Americans to a cumulated total of 1.6 million picocuries
per capita. While the nuclear establishment will claim that not
enough of these dangerous fission products would be ingested by
any one individual to produce adverse health effects, Sternglass
and I calculated that there is a significant degree of correlation
between the varying degrees of geographic exposure to such fission
products and mortality from cancer and other immune deficiency
Another example relates to the anomalous
recent increases in the mortality rates of young people. According
to the United Nations Annual Demographic Yearbooks, in the United
States, Britain and France mortality rates for the most productive
component of the labor force-those between the ages of 25 and
44-have been increasing since 1983 for the first time since World
War 11. This surprising trend for American males was acknowledged
by the Atlanta Centers for Disease Control in an article by J.W.
Buehler et al. in the September 1990 American Journal of Public
Health. The increase was attributed to AIDS, although the article
admitted that in states with high AIDS mortality rates there are
"associated" abnormal increases in septicemia (blood
poisoning), pneumonia, tuberculosis, diseases of the central nervous
system, heart and blood disorders, and "other immune defects."
People in this age group were born between
1945 and 1965, and were therefore most heavily exposed in utero
to the low-level bomb-test radiation. In an aging population,
in which deaths of old people make up an increasing share of total
deaths, the proportion of deaths among younger age groups should
decline over time. In the United States this percentage had declined
fairly steadily, from 11.3 in 1940 to 5.4 in 1983, but it then
abruptly rose to 6.6 in 1989, according to data from the National
Center for Health Statistics.
The corresponding percentage in France,
according to the United Nations Demographic Yearbook, rose from
4.26 in 1983 to 4.71 in 1987, and in Britain from 2.42 in 1983
to 2.61 in 1988. No comparable data were available from the former
In the United States, we can assume that
in addition to the surviving number of baby boomers born with
low birthweight, there may be an equivalent number whose radiation-induced
damage took other forms, so that a significant number of baby
boomers, perhaps one-third, now make up a disproportionate segment
of the swelling ranks of those who are mentally ill, permanently
unemployed, homeless, in prison, on drugs or ill with AIDS and
other immune deficiency diseases, such as chronic fatigue, toxic
shock, tuberculosis, etc. The removal from the U.S. Iabor force
of such a large part of the most productive age group may be one
of the most neglected factors in explaining why our productivity
is lagging so far behind that of the Japanese and Germans, whose
baby-boom generations display no mortality deterioration since
Immune deficiency problems of the kind
anticipated by Sakharov can also be seen in the epidemic rise,
since 1950, of cancer and septicemia mortality among the aged.
Mortality from septicemia, the quintessential immune deficiency
disease of old people, was extremely rare in 1950. Since then
it has risen fifteen-fold.
The biochemical link between low-level
internal radiation and immune deficiency anticipated by Sakharov
was discovered in 1971 by Abram Petkau, a biophysicist working
for the Canadian Atomic Energy Commission. That year he performed
an unplanned experiment on an animal membrane that completely
overturned conventional ideas on the biological damage produced
by extremely low levels of radiation. In the March 1972 issue
of Health Physics, under the innocuous title "Effect of Na-22
on a Phospholipid Membrane," he described how he found that
cells that had withstood radiation doses as large as tens of thousands
of rads without breaking ruptured at less than one rad when subjected
to low-intensity, protracted radiation from mildly radioactive
Petkau and his followers have theorized
that ingested radionuclides promote the formation of oxygen free-radicals,
which, in a chain reaction, can quickly destroy the membranes
of cells, such as those of the immune system. At higher intensities
of radiation, the free-radical concentrations increase and quench
each other. As a result, per unit of radiation absorbed in tissue,
the process is perversely more efficient at lower rather than
higher doses or intensities. The has been confirmed by recent
findings of Dr. Alice Stewart, the world-renowned British epidemiologist,
that low-level radiation raised the cancer risk for workers at
the Hanford, Washington, nuclear weapons plant more rapidly than
Thus the so-called Petkau Effect explains
why man-made fission products introduced into a pristine biosphere
in the earliest years of the nuclear age did so much damage that
remained unrecognized at the time. The
Petkau Effect also explains what happened to the many millions
of people in the former Soviet Union forced to ingest food and
water contaminated by Chernobyl fallout; most of the damage is
done by the initial exposure, when the dose response rises most
Chernousenko suggests that in the case
of Chernobyl, for every death there were a large number of premature
illnesses. Such widespread illness could not be concealed despite
all efforts by Soviet authorities to do so, and it contributed
to the consequent despair that helped unravel the social fabric
of Soviet society after the accident. It may help explain the
mystery of why the Soviet Union collapsed so quickly after 1986,
with a suddenness that completely upset the geopolitical balance.
Chernousenko's book should prepare us for the nuclear horrors
that will come with another such catastrophe, but if we really
wish to heed the warnings of both Sakharov and Chernousenko, we
must put an end to all forms of nuclear emissions released into
Jay M. Gould, a member of the E.P.A.'s
Science Advisory Board during the Carter Administration, is co-author
of Deadly Deceit: Low-Level Radiation, High-Level Cover-Up (Four
Walls Eight Windows).
U.S. Army Quietly Resumes Biowarfare Testing
After Ten-Year Hiatus
"ARMY RESUMES BIOLOGICAL" AGENT
TESTS AT DUGWAY AFTER 1O-YEAR CESSATION''
by Jim Woolf; Salt Lake Tribune, 1/27/93
The Army this week resumed its most dangerous
type of testing with disease-causing agents at western Utah's
Dugway Proving Ground, ending a 10-year hiatus.
Researchers at the isolated Baker Laboratory
injected weakened or killed strains of two deadly organisms into
the air in a test chamber to see whether they could be detected
by a machine designed to warn American troops of an attack with
biological-warfare agents. The military does not have such a machine.
Mixing biological agents with air-a process
called "aerosolization"-is risky because a tiny leak
in the test equipment could allow the organisms to escape.
Army experts claim their elaborate safety
precautions will prevent such a leak, but critics contend a serious
accident is possible.
State officials and independent scientists
were briefed on this test during a public meeting April 1, 1992.
They raised no objections.
Such testing was routine at Dugway until
early 1983 when the army concluded its equipment was too old to
ensure safety. The Baker Laboratory has been renovated since then,
allowing testing to resume.
Dugway officials have announced plans
to conduct several biological defense tests involving the aerosolization
of disease-causing organisms and natural toxins. The tests were
supposed to have started last year, but unexpected problems delayed
testing until this week.
Melynda J. Petrie, spokeswoman for Dugway,
said scientists have started tests of a Chemical Biological Mass
Spectrometer (CBMS). This hand-held device is designed to sound
an alarm when it detects the presence of either biological- or
The tests will determine whether the device
can detect two dangerous micro-organisms: Coxiella burnetii, the
bacteria that causes Q fever; and Yersinia pestis, the bacteria
that causes bubonic plague.
Ms. Petrie said the Q fever bacteria is
killed prior to testing to reduce the chance of an accident. That
is done by heating it for an hour in an autoclave. The plague
bacteria is from a weakened strain used to vaccinate humans.
The CBMS detector cannot tell the difference
between the organisms being tested and their more dangerous cousins,
said Ms. Petrie.
She said some of the tests will mix the
disease-causing organism with such things as diesel fumes and
the smoke from burning plants to see whether the device is overwhelmed
by chemicals that might be found on the battlefield.
"BIOWARFARE IS BACK," by Jon
Christensen; High Country News, 8/9/93
The Army has resumed tests with disease-causing
bacteria and viruses at the Dugway Proving Ground in western Utah
after a 10-year hiatus. Researchers are spraying deadly, infectious
micro-organisms into an isolated chamber to test a "chemical
biological mass spectrometer." The device warns soldiers
of biological and chemical warfare agents in the air or on the
battlefield. The tests involve bacteria that cause bubonic plague
and Q fever, reports the Salt Lake Tribune. Such "aerosol"
testing was routine until 1983, when the Army concluded that its
containment equipment was too old to ensure safety. The biowarfare
lab has been renovated since then, and when Utah state officials
were briefed on the testing plans last year, they raised no objections.
The Army also announced plans to test the equipment's ability
to test five other biological agents in water, including the poison
that causes botulism, the bacteria that causes anthrax and a virus
that causes encephalitis.
Haiti: Drugs, Thugs, The CIA And the Deterrence
'WHAT'S BEHIND WASHINGTON'S SILENCE ON
HAITI DRUG CONNECTION?"
by Dennis Bernstein; Pacific News Service, 10/20/93
At stake in the U.S. confrontation with
the Haitian military regime is a cocaine smuggling operation that
earns millions of dollars for Haitian military officials while
dumping tons of the deadly white powder on American streets. Yet
while the country debates the merits of armed intervention in
Haiti, the Clinton administration has remained mum on the Haitian
A confidential report by the Drug Enforcement
Agency obtained by Pacific News Service describes Haiti as "a
major transshipment point for cocaine traffickers" funnelling
drugs from Colombia and the Dominican Republic into the U.S.-with
the knowledge and active involvement of high military officials
and business elites.
The corruption of the Haitian military
"is substantial enough to hamper any significant drug investigation
attempting to dismantle" illicit drug operations inside Haiti,
the report states. Echoing the report's findings, exiled Haitian
President Jean Bertrand Aristide recently blamed the military's
role in the drug trade for his ouster.
Despite extensive DEA intelligence documenting
Haiti's drug role, neither the Clinton administration, nor the
Bush administration before it, have ever raised that role publicly.
Now critics of U.S. policy on Haiti, including one Congressman,
are questioning that silence, suggesting it reflects de facto
U.S. support for the Haitian military and a reluctance to offer
unqualified support for Aristide.
"I've been amazed that our government
has never talked about the drug trafficking...even though it is
obviously one of the major reasons why these people drove their
president out of the country and why they are determined not to
let him back in. We're talking hundreds of millions of dollars
of illegal profits that are having disastrous consequences for
the American people," says Rep. John Conyers (D-MI).
Larry Burns, head of the Washington, D.C.-based
Council on Hemispheric Affairs, claims, "From the moment
Aristide was overthrown two years ago, Washington has equivocated
on whether it wanted him back or not..." To secure the military
"as an anchor to Aristide's sail," Burns charges, Washington
"turned a blind eye to the corruption charges, and pretended
that it could be reformed through professionalization and U.S.
A senior administration official at the
National Security Council dismisses the charge but when asked
why the administration has failed to publicize DEA allegations
of drug trafficking, the spokesman had no comment.
The DEA first established a Country Office
(CO) in Port-au-Prince to assist the Haitian government with its
anti-narcotics activities in November 1987. Throughout Aristide's
brief tenure in office, DEA agents worked closely with Haitian
military narcotics services, investigating an illegal cocaine
network estimated to be moving some $300-$500 million worth of
cocaine into the U.S. per year. Although the DEA office was shut
down after the 1991 coup, it reopened in the fall of 1992. But
soon after DEA intelligence prompted the arrest of a member of
Haiti's ClA-linked National Intelligence, DEA local agent Tony
Greco received death threats from a man identifying himself as
the National Intelligence member's boss.
A Congressional source familiar with the
DEA's history in Haiti told PNS that Greco had also "connected
(Lt. Colonel Michel) Francois to the drug trafficking operations
in Haiti." Francois, the current chief of police, is alleged
to be behind the current campaign of terror.
What disturbs Rep. Conyers is that none
of this information ever reached the public. "By turning
a deaf ear to what is obviously a prime force behind Aristide's
ouster, we raise questions about our own involvement in drug activities,"
Conyers says. He is currently investigating how it is that the
ships and aircraft necessary to sustain such a large operation
evade detection and interdiction, while the U.S. government has
managed to spot, stop and turn back almost every ramshackle boat
Indeed the DEA report shows that after
the 1991 coup sent Aristide into exile, there were virtually no
major seizures of cocaine from Haiti as compared to nearly 4,000
pounds seized in 1990.
Michael Levine, author of "Deep Cover"
and a decorated DEA agent with 25 years of experience fighting
drugs overseas, says what's going on in Haiti is "just another
example of elements of the U.S. government protecting killers,
drug dealers and dictators for the sake of some political end
that's going to cost a whole bunch of kids in this country their
"I saw the drug traffickers take
over the government of Bolivia in 1980, ironically with the assistance
of the CIA, and we (the DEA) just packed up our office and went
"THE CIA'S HAITIAN CONNECTION"
by Dennis Bernstein and Howard Levine; San Francisco Bay Guardian,
Although the Clinton administration insists
it is making every effort to return ousted Haitian president Jean-Bertrand
Aristide to power, covert connections between Haiti's military
junta and the CIA may be helping to keep the regime in place.
Confidential government documents obtained
by the Bay Guardian show that the CIA helped establish and finance
Haiti's powerful National Intelligence Service, which played a
key role in the 1991 coup and continues to provide paramilitary
muscle for the anti-Aristide dictatorship. As recently as February
1993, a confidential congressional report described the NIS as
"working closely" with the CIA.
The documents-along with interviews with
members of Congress, senior administration sources, and a high-ranking
member of Aristide's cabinet-in-exile-raise troubling questions
about Clinton's policy toward the tiny, impoverished Caribbean
nation and provide strong evidence to support critics who claim
the United States is giving little more than lip service to the
cause of Haitian democracy.
Among other things, the Bay Guardian has
Haitian Lt. Col. Joseph Michel Francois-the
reputed kingpin behind the military junta-was trained at a clandestine
U.S. Army combat facility known as the "coup school,"
whose alumni also include jailed Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega
and former Salvadoran president Roberto d'Aubuisson.
Paramilitary death squads controlled by
Francois and Frank Romain, the former mayor of Port-au-Prince,
are carrying out what some critics call a systematic attempt to
wipe out Aristide's base of support, making it difficult if not
impossible for the ousted president to reclaim political power.
The death squads, known as attaches have been linked to roughly
4,000 murders since the coup.
Former Haitian officials and congressional
sources link Francois and the NIS to a massive drug-smuggling
and money-laundering operation that sends at least a billion dollars
worth of cocaine a year to the United States. Aristide's attempt
to crack down on the drug ring may have helped spark the coup-and
since the military junta took power, cocaine exports have soared.
In fact, a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency
operative who was investigating an NIS officer allegedly involved
in drug smuggling had to flee Haiti in 1992 after receiving death
threats on a private telephone line with a secret number known
only to a few top government officials.
At least two senior members of Congress,
Rep. Charles Rangel and Rep. Major Owens, both New York Democrats,
told the Bay Guardian they have enough reason to suspect CIA involvement
in the Aristide coup that they are calling for a full congressional
HALF HEARTED EFFORTS
As the crisis in Haiti drags on and the
military junta refuses to relinquish power, critics have charged
that the United States is making only token efforts to restore
Aristide to office.
Larry Burns, an analyst at the Washington,
D.C.-based Council on Hemispheric Relations, pointed out that
the United States has not fully participated in the United Nations
embargo of Haiti (unlike most other countries, the U.S. has exempted
its own companies in Haiti from the embargo). It's also curious,
he told the Bay Guardian, that the Clinton administration has
failed to make a public issue of the military regime's role in
drug trafficking-a tactic that the Bush administration used extensively
to discredit Panama's Manuel Noriega.
"You would think that the White House
would want, as one of its major points, to pin the drug tail on
the military donkey in Haiti," Burns said. "It would
be their best opportunity to rally the American people to a pro-Aristide
position. Yet they never used it."
White House Deputy Press Secretary Don
Steinberg told the Bay Guardian that "there's nothing halfhearted
about our administration's commitment to returning democracy to
Haiti and Aristide to power."
"We sent military trainers to Haiti,
we've supported the embargo, and we've fully supported the Governor's
Island accords," which were supposed to lead to Aristide's
return, Steinberg said. "This administration has not for
a second coddled Francois or Cedras." Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras
heads the military junta.
But Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) said he
was worried that the administration's silence on the military's
connection to the drug trade would only embolden the junta and
tighten its grip on power.
"We have turned a very deaf ear to
what is obviously a moving force," he said. "It leads
you to wonder if our silence is because we knew this was going
on and that our complicity in drug activity may parallel the accusations
that were raised about our involvement in drug activities-that
is, our government and the Central Intelligence Agency's-during
the Vietnam conflict."
Although they admit they have no hard
evidence, both Rangel and Aristide's exiled interior minister,
Patrick Elie, told the Bay Guardian they see shadows of the ClA's
hidden hand behind the September 1991 coup, which overthrew Aristide
after only seven months in office.
"I don't have a specific answer as
to whether the CIA was involved," Rangel said. "But
I do know that our feelings against Aristide were made pretty
clear before the coup."
Rangel was referring to the Bush administration's
open backing of former World Bank official Marc Bizan against
Aristide. But in a show of popular support that caught the Bush
administration by surprise, Aristide received 67.5 percent of
the vote, while Bizan captured only 13 percent.
Elie told the Bay Guardian that the relationship
between the CIA and Haiti's National Intelligence Service went
far beyond mere cooperation.
"In fact," he said "the
NIS was created by the Central Intelligence Agency. It was created
by it and funded by it."
Elie, whose job included oversight of
the NIS, launched an investigation shortly after taking office
that revealed that the CIA had covertly given the NIS $500,000-twice
what the U.S. government was providing Haiti overtly for drug
He said that although the NIS was supposed
to be used to combat drug smugglers, "in fact, all the NIS
has done has been political repression and spying on Haitians."
Records of the Drug Enforcement Administration
confirm that the NIS operates with CIA assistance. According to
a confidential DEA document titled "Drug Trafficking in Haiti,"
presented to members of Congress in February 1993 and obtained
by the Bay Guardian, the NIS "is a covert counter-narcotics
intelligence unit which often works in unison with the CIA."
On Sept. 26, 1992, the report states,
the DEA itself was driven from Haiti when its main agent was forced
to flee the country after receiving death threats. DEA attaché
Tony Greco received the threats on his private line in the U.S.
embassy, "given out to only a few trusted individuals,"
the memo says, within a week of his providing information that
led to the arrest of a NIS officer for drug trafficking. "The
unidentified threat," the report states, "came from
an individual who claims to control many Haitian soldiers in the
narcotics distribution trade."
Rep. Major Owens (D-N.Y.), who chairs
the Congressional Black Caucus task force on Haiti, told the Bay
Guardian: "I worry about the CIA having had a role in the
overthrow of the Aristide government. The Congressional Black
Caucus has joined with congressman Joseph Kennedy (D-Mass.) in
calling for a full-scale investigation. "
Bay Guardian phone calls to the CIA headquarters
in Langley, Va., were not returned. Steinberg said he knew nothing
about possible CIA involvement in the coup and was "hearing
about it for the first time." He refused to comment on the
allegations of drug smuggling.
THE SCHOOL OF COUPS
Rangel, who has traveled several times
to Haiti and is close to the deposed administration of Aristide,
told the Bay Guardian that although Cedras heads the junta, Francois,
who is also Port-au-Prince's chief of police, wields the real
Francois, Rangel said, "has been
targeted as being directly responsible for the recent murder of
[Justice Minister] Guy Malary," who was dragged out of church,
beaten, and killed on Oct. 14.
Michel Francois learned some of his skills
right here in the United States. He is a graduate of the U.S.
Army's School of the Americas (SOA), which Father Roy Bourgeois,
founder of SOA Watch in Columbus Georgia, described as a "combat
and counterinsurgency training facility for soldiers from Central
and South America and the Caribbean."
White House spokesperson Steinberg didn't
deny that Francois had attended the Army training school. "But
just because he graduated from SOA doesn't mean he has U.S. government
intelligence connections," Steinberg said. "A lot of
people graduate from that school."
Bourgeois said SOA was founded in 1946
and operated in Panama until it was kicked out in 1984 as part
of the canal treaty. It was reestablished in Ft. Benning, Ga.
"In Latin America," he said,
"it's known as La Escuela de Golpes, the school of coups,"
because of the achievements of some of its 55,000 graduates, including
d'Aubuisson; Noriega, who is serving 40 years in federal prison
for drug trafficking; Gen. Hugo Banzer, who ruled as Bolivia's
dictator from 1971 to 1978; and Hector Gramajo, Guatemala's former
defense minister who helped oversee years of
brutal repression in that country and
was the guest speaker at SOA's graduation in December 1991.
On March 15, 1993, the United Nations
Truth Commission released its report on El Salvador and, Bourgeois
said, "about 75 percent of the officers cited in the most
serious massacres, including the killing of six Jesuit priests,
the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero, and the rape and
murder of four U.S. nuns, were SOA graduates."
Bay Guardian calls to SOA were not returned.
The coup and resulting embargo may have
left thousands of Haitians dead and created terrible hardship
for many thousands more, but it's apparently been quite profitable
for the drug traffickers.
According to a Feb. 10, 1993, memo from
one of Conyers' congressional staffers, a copy of which was obtained
by the Bay Guardian, "the wholesale value of Haiti's drug
industry on the U.S. market is now equal to $1 billion a year,
which equals the entire revenue of Haiti's population of six million.
"Haiti has become the second most
important transshipment point, after the Bahamas, for cocaine
shipments from Colombia to the U.S.," the memo states.
The DEA's "Drug Trafficking in Haiti"
document also says that Haiti is believed to be a main center
for laundering of drug money.
One of Elie's key tasks was to have been
overseeing the drug interdiction efforts, and he had developed
an extensive program that included close cooperation with U.S.
agencies. But the program was barely off the ground when the coup
drove him into hiding in Haiti-and five months later, into the
United States. (He has since fled the U.S., fearing for his life,
and called the Bay Guardian from an undisclosed location because
he was told there is a $750,000 contract on his head. Three pro-Aristide
radio broadcasters have been murdered in Florida.)
"While I was in hiding," he
said, "I monitored Michel Francois over the airwaves directing
the landing of a [drug smuggling] plane right in the middle of
Port-au-Prince. I immediately notified the U.S. embassy in Port-au-Prince.
I was in touch with the CIA main agent there at the time, and
I gave him the time and date of that landing.
"I don't know if he did anything
with it. Since the coup, despite our repeated attempts to continue
this collaboration with the U.S. as the legitimate government
of Haiti, we were met with stonewalling."
Elie's account is supported by the memo
to Conyers, which stated that after the coup, "all those
jailed for drug-trafficking have been released and...Michel Francois
has personally supervised the landing of planes carrying drugs
And a September 1992 State Department
report titled "International Narcotics Control Strategy Report:
Mid-Year Update" noted that "although President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide was planning new policies and institutions to combat
narcotics trafficking, his ouster...crippled narcotics control
efforts in Haiti."
Meanwhile, observers say, the violence
continues-targeted largely at the popular organizations that helped
bring Aristide to power. As part of the reign of terror, death
lists are being posted in small Haitian villages, Liam Mahoney,
an independent human rights monitor in Haiti, told the Bay Guardian
by phone on Nov. 3.
The military regime so far has ignored
the Governor's Island accords that on Oct. 30 called for Aristide's
return to power, leading some to speculate that the junta wants
to completely destroy Aristide's power base before they allow
him to return-if they allow him to return at all.
"If something is not done soon, there
will be no Aristide supporters left," said Rep. Owens. "They
will all be destroyed."
Dennis Bernstein is coproducer of KPFA's
Flashpoints and an associate editor at Pacific News Service. Additional
reporting by Greg Saatkamp and Julie Light.
Public Input and Congressional Oversight
Locked Out of NAFTA
THE PROGRESSIVE Date: January 1993 Title:
"Citizens Shut Out" Author: Jeremy Weintraub
ROLLING STONE Date: 10/28/93 Title: "Congress:
Kill NAFTA-The free-trade agreement is a bad deal" Author:
THE TEXAS OBSERVER Date: 6/18/93 Title:
"Mexico Buys Free Trade" Author: Don Hazen
SYNOPSIS: The North American Free Trade
Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico, cited as perhaps one
of the most important international trade policies in history,
was created in what one member of Congress called "fifteen
months of the most secretive trade negotiations I've ever monitored."
Researcher and author Jeremy Weintraub
reports, "From the beginning, negotiations were conducted
clandestinely, documents classified, and statements veiled, all
because, according to Administration officials, NAFTA was far
too complex, too dense for the average member of Congress."
Nonetheless, those same members of Congress
were given ninety days to make a decision on whether to support
or reject the treaty. It makes sense to ask, if NAFTA is as wide-ranging
and complex as touted, how can the "average member of Congress,"
let alone his or her constituents, make a reasonable, let alone
intelligent, decision on the agreement.
Of course, most constituents won't have
a chance to read the treaty, Weintraub writes, "When NAFTA
was completed...the U.S. trade representative's office began allowing
interested citizens to view the 2,000-page document-for one hour."
And while public participation was barred from the negotiation
process, one industry expert after another was called in to comment
Critics also suggest that NAFTA is beginning
to look a lot like the Reagan/Bush era's final coup de grace for
the labor movement and manufacturing in the U.S. and Canada. The
flow of jobs to Mexico, already a major concern, is expected to
increase with NAFTA, creating a long-term downward pressure on
wages in the U.S. Meanwhile, labor in Mexico is also suffering.
In a well-documented Rolling Stone article, author William Greider
describes how American corporations already are trying to break
the labor movement in Mexico.
Meanwhile, opponents charge that environmental
oversight and standards are expected to devolve to the lowest
common denominator under NAFTA, exacerbating the problems of toxic
dumping and environmental abuse already evident in the maquiladora
zone along the border. While the Mexican government has promised
reforms, and has some highly paid public relations firms working
to sell the American people on those promises, it has a long history
of empty rhetoric.
In an interview published in The Texas
Observer, Chuck Lewis, executive director of the Center for Public
Integrity and the "scourge of the lobbying world," said,
"Since 1989, the Mexican government and the various Mexican
corporate groups tied to the government such as COESCE [the Mexican
Chamber of Commerce] have spent from $25 to $30 million for trade
lobbying." For perspective, that is more than twice what
Kuwait spent to persuade Congress to attack Iraq.
While NAFTA has received considerable
media coverage and will no doubt be one of the top 10 news stories
on the Associated Press list for 1993, this nomination deals with
the lack of information regarding the secretive trade negotiations
that went into the development of the treaty and the lack of public
input and congressional oversight.
Public Relations: Legalized Manipulation
COVERTACTION Date: Spring 1993 Title:
"Public Relationships: Hill & Knowlton, Robert Gray,
and the CIA" Author: Johan Carlisle
SYNOPSIS: Edmund Burke said there were
Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters' Gallery yonder,
there sat a Fourth Estate more important by far than them all.
So it once may have been. Today it would appear that journalism
and the reporters of the Fourth Estate have been replaced by the
public relations flacks of Madison Avenue.
Few Americans have ever heard of Hill
and Knowlton (H&K). Yet it is one of the world's most influential
corporations with virtually unregulated status, long-standing
connections to intelligence agencies, and the power to shape national,
if not international, policy. But H&K is just the jewel on
the gaudy crown of the propagandists. Altogether, in 1991, the
top 50 U.S.-based PR firms charged more than $1,700,000,000 for
manipulating public opinion.
As Johan Carlisle noted in CovertAction,
"One of the most important ways public relations firms influence
what we think is through the massive distribution of press releases
to newspapers and TV newsrooms." A study by Scott M. Culip,
ex-dean of the School of Journalism at the University of Georgia,
revealed that 40 percent of the news content in a typical U.S.
newspaper originated with public relations press releases, story
memos, or suggestions.
An analysis of a typical issue of the
Wall Street Journal by the Columbia Journalism Review once found
that more than half the journal's news stories "were based
solely on press releases." And while the releases were reprinted
"almost verbatim," many of the articles were given a
Wall Street journal staff reporter byline.
Hill & Knowlton's clients include
Turkey, China, Peru, Israel, Egypt, and Indonesia, all well-known
chronic human rights abusers. H&K's executives, such as former
Vice President George Bush's Chief of Staff Craig Fuller, and
Democratic power broker Frank Mankiewicz, have run campaigns against
abortion for the Catholic Church; represented the Church of Scientology
and the Moonies; made sure gasoline taxes were kept low for the
American Petroleum Institute; handled the critics of Three Mile
Island's near catastrophe; and mishandled the apple growers' assertion
that Alar was safe.
One of H&K's better known propaganda
coups was on behalf of Kuwait. H&K was hired by Citizens for
a Free Kuwait and eventually received nearly $10.8 million to
conduct one of the largest and most effective public relations
campaigns in history.
Perhaps its most stunning promotion was
when it presented 15 year-old "Nayirah" before the House
Human Rights Caucus to tearfully testify about Iraqi soldiers
taking Kuwaiti babies out of incubators at the al-Addan hospital
and leaving them on the cold floor to die. As it turned out, "Nayirah"
was the daughter of Sheikh Saud Nasir al-Sabah, Kuwait's ambassador
to the U.S. Her story, which was impossible to corroborate, was
neatly orchestrated by H&K and coordinated with the White
House on behalf of the government of Kuwait.
The problem did not end with the Reagan/Bush
administrations. Ron Brown, who was a lobbyist and attorney for
Haiti's "Baby Doc" Duvalier, is President Bill Clinton's
Secretary of Commerce. Howard Paster, former head of H&K's
Washington office, directed the confirmation process during the
transition period and went on to become director of intergovernmental
affairs for the White House. And after managing public relations
for the Gulf War, H &K executive Lauri J. Fitz-Pegado became
director of public liaison for the inauguration.
SSU Censored Researcher: Kristen Rutledge
COMMENTS: Johan Carlisle, a San Francisco-based
investigative journalist, strongly believes that public relations
firms and their ability to form public opinion have not received
the coverage they deserve. "I don't think this subject, the
incredible power of public relations companies to influence U.S.
domestic and foreign policy, is dealt with at all in the mass
media," Carlisle said.
"Since we supposedly live in a democracy,
more information about how government policy is shaped and how
public perceptions are manufactured would undoubtedly change the
way the democratic process works. Public relations and lobbying,
in particular, are two elements of our democracy that few citizens
know much about. I asked an official at H&K why domestic lobbying
and public relations are virtually unregulated. He said that would
be a violation of free speech. I think the public has a right
to know how these powerful companies affect our lives.
"The large transnational corporations
that benefit from the militaristic foreign policy of the U.S.
and from the widespread ignorance of Americans about what is really
going on in this country and the world," are the primary
beneficiaries of the limited coverage given this issue, according
to Carlisle. He believes that public relations practitioners and
lobbyists constitute the fifth branch of government-considering
their influence and power.
Thousands of Cubans Losing Their Sight
Because of Malnutrition
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER Date: 4/16/93 Title:
"Malnutrition in Cuba so severe, thousands are losing their
sight" Author: Lizette Alvarez
THE CUBA ADVOCATE Date: May 1993 Title:
"Dateline: Miami" Authors: Jamie York and Emily Coffey
SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER Date: I 1/4/93
Title: "Allies desert U.S. on Cuban embargo"
SYNOPSIS: In mid-April, 1993, the Knight-Ridder
News Service carried a lengthy article by journalist Lizette Alvarez
that warned of a rare disease caused by malnutrition. The rare
malnutritional ailment, called optic neuropathy, can lead to blindness.
Alvarez reported that after two years
of severe food shortages, thousands of Cubans were going blind
and that some 12,000 Cubans were treated for the ailment at hospitals
and clinics in Havana during the last two months. On July 17th,
the Toronto Star reported that some 45,000 Cubans had been affected
by the epidemic of optical neuritis.
Cubans are losing their eyesight because
of an almost total lack of meat, milk, cheese, and vegetables
in their diet. A number of them also are suffering from beriberi,
an illness related to Vitamin B1 deficiency that attacks muscles
and nerves and can lead to paralysis.
Most Cubans can only afford the food they
get from the government: one bread roll a day; ten ounces of beans
a month; and six pounds of rice a month, for three people. Alvarez
reported that when Cubans get hungry, they heat water and add
The article was an important one, well-researched
and well-written, except for one critical oversight. The story
did not mention one of the prime causes of malnutrition in Cuba-the
U.S. economic blockade.
Jamie York and Emily Coffey, editors of
The Cuba Advocate, in Boulder, Colorado, point out that the story
accurately portrayed the scope of the crisis, but did not mention
that the U.S. government was using food as a political weapon.
While the Cuban government confirms the
epidemic, it says only a few thousand people have been affected
and denies reports of widespread malnutrition. At the same time,
it says excessive smoking and drinking-not just malnutrition-
are to blame. U.S. doctors say smoking and drinking are not to
blame-starvation is to blame. "It's an indication that these
people are starving," said Matthew Kay, a neuro-ophthalmologist
at Miami's Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.
A Havana doctor, who sees patients with
neuropathy almost every day, said, "This is a big, big problem.
Rice and beans just won't cut it. We are all petrified of going
blind." Another Cuban doctor said that without the proper
food and a steady supply of vitamins the crisis would become a
The U.S. embargo, implemented in 1961,
has already cost Cuba more than $37 billion in trade and investment;
created fuel shortages that have slowed agricultural and industrial
development; and now is causing tens of thousands of people to
go blind. The United States stands nearly alone in world opinion
on the Cuban embargo. On November 3, 1993, the United Nations
General Assembly, in a non-binding but forceful resolution, repudiated
the 33-year-old embargo and urged nations to ignore it. The vote
in the General Assembly was 88-4, with 57 abstentions. The four
nations voting against the resolution were the United States,
Israel, Albania, and Paraguay.
Referring to the growing tragedy in Cuba,
York and Coffey wondered, "How does the public learn about
U.S. government policies if they are not mentioned by the media?
What happened to the public's right to know?"
SSU Censored Researcher: Kristen Rutledge
COMMENTS: Jamie York and Emily Coffey,
co-editors of The Cuba Advocate, a monthly newsletter dedicated
to providing "censored" news about Cuba, both feel that
the mass media have failed to provide the U.S. public with an
accurate, fair, and truthful account of life in Cuba and U.S.
policy on Cuba. "The Cuban Democracy Act of 1992 (The Torricelli
Bill) is in effect preventing U.S. subsidiaries of foreign countries
from around the world from trading with Cuba," Coffey said.
"This turns the U.S. embargo into an economic blockade. Nothing
is said in the media about the blockade preventing food and medicine
from going to the Cuban people."
In response to who will benefit from better
media coverage of the Cuban situation, Coffey said, "Everybody
will. Most U.S. citizens do not realize that if we were free to
travel to Cuba and trade with Cuba this would be good economics
for both people. Cuba has 10 million people that would like to
buy a lot of products from us."
York feels that the limited media "coverage
of U.S. policy on Cuba benefits a handful of wealthy, influential
Cuban-Americans who want the total capitulation of socialist Cuba
to capitalism. This elite group has the most to gain by returning
Havana to its former status as the gambling and prostitution playground
of the Caribbean."
Both York and Coffey said there were a
number of other stories that would contribute to public knowledge
and understanding of U.S.-Cuba relations if they had not been
censored by the media.