Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the May 22, 1997 issue of Workers World newspaper
Has Cuba been the target of covert U.S. biological warfare? The Permanent Mission of Cuba to the United Nations presented compelling evidence to the UN Secretary General on April 28 that Washington may be responsible for spreading a suspicious and devastating crop plague.
According to Cuba's report to the UN, on Oct. 21, 1996, Cuban Airlines crew members on a commercial flight reported a single-engine plane about 1,000 feet above them flying north to south above Matanzas Province. The plane was intermittently spraying a grayish-white mist.
The aircraft was identified as a fumigation aircraft Model SAR, register N3093M. That plane is listed on the civilian aircraft registry of the U.S. as being operated by the State Department. The airplane had taken off from Patrick United States Air Force Base in Cocoa Beach in Florida.
A Cuban air controller asked the pilot of the U.S. plane whether the craft was experiencing any technical problems. In a taped conversation, the pilot replied "No." When asked, the pilot identified the aircraft as a single-engine AY-65.
On Dec. 18, the first evidence of Thrips palmi plague emerged in Matanzas Province. Thrips palmi is an insect plague previously unknown in Cuba. It nestles and propagates in seedlings, fruits, vegetation and top soil. Its larvae scatter through the air.
Outbreaks of the infestation were reported in numerous other fields in and around Matanzas and La Habana Provinces, infecting corn, beans, pumpkins, cucumbers and other crops.
Although the Cuban government purchased expensive pesticides to combat the infestation, the chemical control has reportedly not been effective.
On Dec. 26, the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked the U.S. Interest Section in Havana to clarify the flight incident.
The U.S. government claimed in reply that when the single- engine aircraft pilot saw the Cuban commercial airplane flying below, the pilot used the "smoke generator" to indicate his location.
But the SAR aircraft is a crop-duster, used by the U.S. to destroy crops in the so-called war on drugs. While the aircraft has sprinkling systems for liquids, aerosols and solids, there is no known smoke generator installed. And the smoke release argument contradicts the taped conversation with the U.S. pilot.
The Cuban commercial pilot, experienced at flying fumigation planes, asserts he saw the release of a substance, not smoke. And the territories infected with Thrips palmi match the flight of the U.S. crop-duster.
In addition, personnel of the Cuban National Pest Control Center detected the insect population on Dec. 18. The pest specialists estimated the plague was in its third or fourth generation. Considering that the insect reproductive cycle is 15 to 21 days, depending on its host plant, the beginning of the outbreak was estimated to be Oct. 21--precisely the date when the U.S. SAR crop-duster flew over the fields.
Based on these and other supporting facts, the Cuban government charges in its statement to the UN, "There is reliable evidence that Cuba has once again been the target of biological aggression."
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