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Why Are We Really 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 countryside.

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 military effort.

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 U.S. intervention.

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 people.

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 late 1980s.

"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 much?

"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 coast.

"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 northern Somalia.

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 Bush.

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 Economic Survey.

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 refinery.

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 at stake.

"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 our assets."

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 in 1991.

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 ambitious.

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 Implications

"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 diseases.

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 illness.

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 Organization criteria.

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 diseases.

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 Soviet Union.

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 1983.

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 sodium salts.

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 high doses.

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 rapidly.

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 the environment.

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

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 chemical-warfare agents.

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 Of Democracy

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 "drug connection."

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. training."

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 carrying refugees.

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 lives.

"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 home."

by Dennis Bernstein and Howard Levine; San Francisco Bay Guardian, 11/3/93

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 learned:

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 investigation.


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 interdiction.

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.


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 power.

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 weapons."

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: William Grieder

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 or participate.

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 and Deceit


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 sugar.

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 plague.

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.

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