It was in the summer of 1962 that this campaign began, when Sidney Gottlieb, the CIA’s chemist, devoted all his efforts to contaminating a diving suit that was supposed to be worn by Fidel.
Each part of the diving equipment that would come into contact with the respiratory tracts and skin, was carefully infected with the tuberculosis bacterium and a poisonous mushroom called “pie maduro” which, on post-mortem examination, is found to trigger death by decomposing the victim’s tissues while he is living until causing death under excruciating pain.
To execute the plan, the CIA factored in exploiting Fidel’s hospitality to James Donovan. Donovan was the US lawyer who was trying to reach a bargain with Castro for the Bay of Pigs mercenaries to be set free; but several versions would have it that the North American Donavan refused outright or looked for a pretext not to hand over this fatal gift to his host.
Perhaps ethical principles motivated Donavan’s conduct. This is plausible for it is difficult to find an example of a government acting with equal treachery when dealing with another state in times of peace.
In addition, at that time, the US CIA perfected another plan: they would irrigate a TV studio where the Commander-in-Chief was scheduled to appear with a drug which would cause him to conduct himself irrationally before the public. They also pursued other attempts to apply a substance that would make him lose the beard, that by this time, was a hallmark of his appearance.
Neither was there a shortage of attempts to put before Fidel, tobacco contaminated with a fatal bacterium and to poison him with cyanide pills, expressly conceived so as not to leave traces.
Following the defeat at the Bay of Pigs, the United States was seeking revenge, to destabilize the Island and to create conditions for a direct invasion under the so-called “Plan Mangosta”. This plan was made public some years after and specified that one of the missions was to “destroy the harvests with biological or chemical weapons, and to change the regime before the forthcoming Congressional elections in November 1962”.
Shortly after this plan was articulated, the Cuban agriculture was contaminated with a pathogen, the Newcastle virus, that almost entirely eliminated the poultry population from Cuba.
Almost all the cultivated fields and the entire production of livestock and poultry were subject to endemics and illnesses concocted in CIA laboratories; in the years to come, the Cuban population would be affected chiefly by unexpected outbreaks of conjunctivitis bleeding, dysentery and dengue serotype 02, that caused 158 deaths, including those of 101 children in the 1980s, this being the worst human loss inflicted on the Cuban people by US biological terrorism.
These aggressions continued even following the dissolution of the USSR and the socialist camp in the 1990s, when US Special Services and the Cuban-American Right considered that the time had come to provoke famine and despair in the difficult economic situations that the country was faced with.
Important aspects of the bacteriological war that the US was waging against Cuba, the biggest in History, would come to light after the findings of the Senate Committee (investigating into the CIA’s illegal actions in 1975) and other official documents and public testimonies of participants. These would give historic reason to the declarations on these events that the Leader of the Revolution had already begun to make as far back as 1964.
by Jorge Wejebe Cobo