From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Anne Gallman)
Subject: Genocide of 101 children through CIA-introduced dengue epidemic
Sender: Perdita Glover
Date: Sun, 10 Aug 2003 18:18:57 GMT
Genocide of 101 children through CIA-introduced dengue epidemic: Expert witnesses testify, Mothers accuse
SILVIA Torres Lara lost her 12-year-old daughter in less than 24
They admitted her into Abalí Hospital (in the capital). She
had a fever, but was talking. During the night they informed me that
her condition was grave. Before going to sleep she gave me a big kiss
that I can still feel. She died in the early hours of the morning. Now
the time has come for me to be able to come here (to the court). On
behalf of my daughter and other mothers I accuse the United
States. Don't they know what they did to us, the mothers?
The emotional atmosphere in the Supreme Court's main hall on July 20 was particularly somber. Lawyer Juan Mendoza requested that an event with national repercussions be laid before the court: the dramatic 1981 epidemic of hemorrhagic dengue which occasioned over 300,000 cases of sickness and the death of 158 persons, 101 of them children.
The 12th hearing of evidence session in the case of the People of Cuba vs. the Government of the United States was entirely dedicated to testimonies from expert witnesses, affected mothers, pediatrists and nurses.
The first to testify was Doctor Pedro Mas, head researcher at the Pedro Kouri Institute of Tropical Medicine, and a virologist of international repute, who gave an exhaustive explanation of the different types of dengue fever, its transmission, locations where it was present at the time and the situation in Cuba at that juncture.
Mas made reference to various investigations and a 1975 national survey which revealed that the last appearance of the virus in the country dated back to 1940, in spite of the fact that the disease was widely prevalent in the Caribbean Basin.
The microbiologist subsequently spoke of the first epidemic of dengue fever type 1, in 1977, confirmed not only by Cuban scientists but, via the World Health Organization (WHO), at the dengue fever reference center, based in the Walter Reed Institute in the United States. Dr. Mas himself delivered samples to this institute, which corroborated that it was dengue fever type 1.
In relation to the 1982 epidemic, the scientist stated that the Institutes of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and Epidemology diagnosed the virus as dengue fever type 2, which was not present in the Americas, nor in countries with which Cuba maintained relations.
This testimony was expanded on by Francisco Machado, Doctor in Chemical Science at the Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Center, who presented an expert-witness report compiled by an investigative commission set up at the time and composed of Cuban and foreign specialists, which interviewed hundreds of expert witnesses and studied thousands of clinical histories of the 1981 epidemic.
We reflected on three aspects: in 1981, did the U.S. Army and the
specialized services of the CIA possess the technical and scientific
capacity to utilize the dengue virus for military or terrorist ends?
Was dengue fever type 2 present in a particular part of the world and
could it have arrived in Cuba via migratory flows? And how could
dengue type 2 have reached the island?
In particular, Dr. Machado made reference to declassified U.S. documents on the utilization of dengue fever as a biological weapon; experiments on breeding mosquitoes, dengue's vector, in Fort Derrick, Maryland; and a report from the U.S. Army's Medical Research Development Command on the existence of a protective vaccine against Dengue-2.
The first point was demonstrated. The United States did possess the
technical and scientific capacity (production of the transmissive
agent and the vaccine) to utilize dengue as a biological weapon.
In relation to the commission's second point of investigation, Dr. Machado explained that they had access to WHO, Pan-American Health Organization (PHO) and USSR Ministry of Health sources, plus those of countries that possibly had dengue fever in their territories.
There were no outbreaks in Oceania, nor in South East Asia, nor in
Africa (only in Nigeria, with which country Cuba had no migratory
relations); and, according to the PHO, no cases of dengue-2 had been
recorded after 1978 in Latin America and the Caribbean. This led to
the conclusion that the virus could not have been imported through
Finally, he gave an exhaustive testimony on the propagation of the 1981 epidemic based on one district—Baluarte—in the capital municipality of Boyeros, in the vicinity of the José Martí International Airport.
The first child died in April, he noted and, in May, there were 200 cases of the disease. In June, there were 500 cases in the capital, and the epidemic had spread to the provincial capitals of Pinar del Río, Santiago de Cuba, Villa Clara, Holguín, Matanzas, Guantánamo and Granma.
Machado recalled that during the central event for the 26th of July, President Fidel Castro spoke about the epidemic and the suspicion that it had been expressly introduced into Cuban territory.
The morning session also heard the testimony of Carlos Dotres, current minister of public health, who was head of the Pediatrics Group in the capital and a pediatrist at the Pedro Borrás Hospital.
Evaluating the situation, he informed the court,
I can say
that, in 1981, we faced the gravest health situation ever to have
confronted our country, with tens of thousands of persons
hospitalized, and over 10,000 in shock and bleeding.
He explained that, according to specialized literature on the subject,
dengue-2 can be fatal in 40-50% of cases, and that only through the
will of the government and the tens of millions of dollars
directed—with great difficulty and obstacles—to the
purchase of medicines and other supplies, was the death of between
40-4,5000 persons prevented.
As Dr. Dotres affirmed: :This biological aggression was a genocidal act.
Rosa Acuña's son was 10 years old.
They took him into intensive
care in Borrás hospital (in Havana province) and I never saw him
again. He died of hemorrhagic dengue. He was my only son, a healthy,
happy child. I accuse the government of the United States of having
introduced dengue fever and having made so many Cuban homes places of
They did everything they could for my five-year-old daughter in the
William Soler Hospital, affirmed Inocencia Ledón,
but she died
and I authorized an autopsy to help save other children. Thank you to
those who are sending us death charges, but I say that, with all our
heartache, you're not going to stop us.
Casimira Camejo lost a daughter of 13 and with her,
I lost part of
my life, I can never forget what I went through with her in the
hospital. I lost her in one week, a healthy child. I want to say that
with or without food, clothed or unclothed, I will give the last drop
of my blood for this homeland.
Other mothers and relatives of the victims likewise made statements to the court. Isnayda Marrero lost her three-year-old daughter; Zenaida Isla, her daughter of four and a half; Dagoberto Ramos his grandson who had just had a birthday. Testimonies of pain which should haunt the guilty ones for the rest of their lives.
To that human catastrophe must be added the tremendous social tension and stretched economic resources.
That terrible stage lived through by the Cuban people is preserved in the collective memory with great sadness, in spite of the 18 years that have gone by since then. Testimonies presented by witnesses in the final hearing of evidence session confirmed this.
Hector Terry, who was deputy minister of public health at the Department of Hygiene and Epidemology in 1981, told the court that, out of every 100 cases, three were recorded as grave. In terms of the total of 116,000 cases, the largest outbreak was reported between July and August, where there were days on which the country had as many as 9000 sick persons. The highest number of hospital admissions occurred in the months of July and August, 33% of the total number of cases. In July alone over 50,000 persons became ill.
From the outbreak of the disease, radical measures were taken with the creation of a national operative group to confront it. Some 50 additional teaching units were set up in the country, on top of the 121 already existing. Even schools and polytechnics were utilized to assimilate the high number of admissions, necessary in terms of monitoring patients and preventing shock.
According to Terry, the epidemic took the country by surprise, given that dengue fever type 2 had not been present in this hemisphere and there was no diagnostic or treatment information whatsoever. Medical literature provided some ideas and led them to establish a preliminary calculation of some 3000 fatalities in the initial weeks. The country's effort prevented such a total being reached.
Terry also referred to a national campaign for the eradication of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the vector of the disease. Over 42 million pesos were invested in this undertaking. In the case of fumigation equipment, this had to be purchased on the international market at three times the price, due in certain cases to the U.S. blockade which prevented Cuba from acquiring resources produced in that country or from subsidiaries of such companies elsewhere.
A further witness, Dr. Eric Martínez Torres, deputy medical director of the William Soler pediatric hospital in 1981, highlighted in his statement the dedication of technical and medical personnel at the facility who, by sheer willpower, barely slept. Medical students and nurses also contributed to care in hospitals, where 7000 extra beds were provided throughout the island.
Collective thinking, stated Martínez,
allowed for integrated
treatment of patients; all the specialists were brought in to deal
with the epidemic, cases were analyzed as a whole and thus many
conclusions on symptoms emerged.
Cuba's experience during the hemorrhagic dengue catastrophe was adopted by the Pan-American Health Organization.