Germ warfare, political coups, and the Venezuelan opposition’s latest gambit

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By now, any watcher of the situation in Venezuela is all too familiar with the tactics of the local right-wing — which is to say, pretty much everyone in opposition to the elected president. Start vicious rumors, tell improbable lies, and when that invariably fails, stage a violent “demonstration” in which a handful or so of people end up very conveniently dead. All this to force the hand of Washington, which, as everyone who’s been tracking events in Latin America for several decades knows, is all too happy to get involved in local politics. And when the dust settles, somehow a fascist always winds up in charge down there…or did, until recently. The fact that Washington’s grip is coming loose is the reason why the smell of desperation down there has gotten so strong of late.

And don’t think that the local authorities haven’t picked up on it, either. They have, and they’re not keeping quiet, as this Aporrea piece shows:

Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro announced on Sunday afternoon that physicians from several parts of the world and Cuban experts in bacterial warfare will be arriving in order to investigate occurrences at the Central Hospital of Maracay.

Ángel Sarmiento, director of the local College of Physicians, stated a week ago that eight persons had died there of an unidentified illness.

“We are investigating, friendly physicians from other parts of the world are arriving already, including our sister Cuba, which sent us experts in bacteriological warfare to determine what this fascist right-wing is trying to do in Aragua,” said Maduro, from Bolívar Avenue in Caracas, during a speech celebrating the International Day of Peace.

“Bacterial warfare, psychological warfare, international financial warfare — no and no, they won’t succeed, Venezuela is solid in all aspects of our social, economic, political and financial life,” Maduro declared.

The secretary of health for the state of Aragua, Luis López, denied the existence of any cases related to the Ebola virus, after completing an inspection of the Maracay hospital.

“it is absolutely false that there exists in the Central Hospital of Maracay or in the state of Aragua any case related to Ebola or meningococcemia,” stated López during a press conference there on September 12. “We are appealing for calm in the land, there is no case of that type anywhere in Venezuela.”

Translation mine.

So far, no word on what that mystery killer stalking the state of Aragua could be, but at least, two particularly nasty (and newsworthy) scares have already been ruled out: Ebola virus, and meningococcus.

International assistance, particularly from Cuba, should assure that they will get to the bottom of this problem. Venezuela’s healthcare system still has plenty of room for improvement, to be sure, but it’s already been radically transformed for the better since Chavecito was elected in 1998. The Cubans were instrumental in that, providing doctors in the poorest neighborhoods and bringing the preventive Cuban approach to long-standing problems in the Venezuelan system. And since their own country has been subject to constant coup attempts from Washington and Miami ever since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, it stands to reason that they have had germ warfare on their radar for the longest time, too.

One of the more than 600 attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro was, in fact, a germ warfare program, in which cancer-causing monkey viruses (SV40 in particular) were cultivated, and strengthened with the aid of a linear particle accelerator at the US Public Health Service Hospital in New Orleans. The irradiated monkey cancer viruses were first tested in mice, then marmosets, then African green monkeys, and finally, human “volunteers” supplied by the Louisiana state penitentiary at Angola. The human phase of the testing took place at the East Louisiana State Hospital in Jackson, LA. A number of men transferred from the Angola penitentiary to the state mental hospital in August of 1963 were first subjected to a huge overdose of x-rays to disable their immune systems, then injected with a “soup” containing living cancer cells…and the virus. The first “volunteer” to die of the induced galloping cancer took just under a month to succumb.

The “kill-Castro” project was uncovered in two books: Dr. Mary’s Monkey, by Edward Haslam, and Me and Lee, by Judyth Vary Baker. The first concerns the mysterious death of Dr. Mary Sherman, who headed up the practical part of the operation, and who had access to the linear particle accelerator (since dismantled and mysteriously vanished) at the Public Health Service Hospital. Dr. Sherman’s body was found, badly burned, on a smoldering mattress at her apartment in New Orleans, in 1964 — just hours before the Warren Commission was scheduled to begin local hearings into the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Haslam was unaware of the connections between the two at first, but then he met the author of the second book, who happened to have worked on the project herself as a technician, as well as becoming deeply intimate with Lee Harvey Oswald. Judy Baker was promised entry to Tulane Medical School by none other than Dr. Sherman’s superior, both officially and in secret: Dr. Alton Ochsner, the legendary “Surgeon of the South”. He was famous for his crusade against cigarettes at a time when the smoking habit was still being overtly glamorized in movies and on TV. Had he stuck strictly to his anti-cancer work, he would have gone down in history as an unalloyed hero.

But Dr. Ochsner was not only a cancer researcher; he was also a prominent anti-communist. He was a co-founder of INCA, the Information Council of the Americas, whose mission was to spread anticommunist propaganda (and provide a convenient smokescreen for the CIA, too, as it happens). He was friends with a number of wealthy, right-wing oil men, who generously supplied him with cars, land for his private cancer clinic, and the money to build it. He also treated a number of US-friendly Latin American leaders when they came down with cancer. There was no prominent anticommunist in Latin America or the US south that he did not work hand-in-glove with. And it was his meddling in politics that would wind up leaving him with blood on his hands. For it was he who tapped the not-yet-20-year-old Judy, whom he recognized as having a gift of “serendipity” when it came to infecting mice with cancer, to be the covert project’s technician. It was a brilliant move, strategically speaking; since she was so young and little-known, nobody would suspect that she was the one who developed the means to induce cancer in humans. She could easily be made to disappear from the official records. And for more than three decades, her part indeed remained a well-kept secret.

Judy Vary had started out with the goal of finding a cure for the disease which had killed her grandmother, her friend and mentor Georgia Watkins, and eventually would kill her grandfather as well. But to be able to cure cancer, one first has to be able to cause it in test animals; only that way can one determine the biochemical pathways by which cancer operates. While still in high school, Judy figured out a way to do just that: by irradiating lab mice with high doses of X-rays before injecting them with carcinogens. This would weaken their immune systems so that the cancer-causing agent — be it cigarette tar, other chemicals, or viruses — could take hold. And it was this research that brought her to the attention of various powerful entities: the US military, for one; Dr. Ochsner, for another. And US Senator George Smathers, a liberal anticommunist from her home state of Florida, who pulled strings to get her into university there, as well as mobilizing a great deal of material support from various locally based scientific corporations.

Ultimately, it was Ochsner who would take the reins of the project that ended up ruining Judy’s life, as well as terminating in the assassination of JFK, and the death of the falsely-accused Lee Oswald, who was Judy’s friend, confidant and lover in the summer of 1963. By dangling the prospect of a full scholarship to Tulane Medical School, Ochsner was able to hook the brightest and most promising young cancer researcher in the land right at a time when she was still below the nation’s radar. Prior to the project, a smattering of press clippings, most of them local, had recorded Judy’s meteoric progress as a scientist; after, they dropped off to almost none. The few that did come out, painted her as one who had rejected the feminist goal of becoming a great scientist, in favor of “fulfillment” as a housewife and mother of five. It was a ludicrous sham, but it worked; as long as Judy pretended to be just a “vanilla girl”, in the words of David Ferrie (another undercover scientist of the project), her life was safe. But the cost was terrible; not only did she lose the love of her life in Lee Oswald (whose end is all too familiar to the world), she also lost the chance to fulfill her life’s greatest goal. The girl who set out to cure cancer wound up with a much more dubious achievement to her credit: “eternal death” in the form of a cancer virus that, if the cell culture was cryogenically frozen, could live on indefinitely.

Why mention this? Because if the CIA could enlist top scientists to secretly cultivate a virus that could cause death by cancer within a month, and keep it alive indefinitely as far back as 1963, there is nothing they could not do today where germ warfare is concerned.

And Venezuela, as a “rogue” democracy and the world’s oil-richest nation, is most definitely a CIA target as far as coups and assassinations are concerned. Socialism continues to thrive there, much to the dismay of the oppos and Washington both. The cancer that killed Hugo Chávez has been described as of an “unknown” type. Could it have been descended from the same cancer-causing “chicken broth” that Lee Harvey Oswald tried, without success, to hand off to “dissident” Cubans in Mexico City two months before he was accused of the murder of JFK, in an effort to save his own president by destroying another? It would not surprise me if that turned out to be the case. Just as it would not surprise me to learn that a bacterial or viral agent heretofore unknown was unleashed on purpose in Maracay to destabilize the Venezuelan government. Neither the fascist opposition nor its US puppetmasters are above doing anything to achieve their ends, no matter how ridiculous, or how nefarious. A few propaganda-worthy deaths due to germ warfare are right up their alley, and right in line with their general pattern of misbehavior.

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