Fidel Castro responds to BioWar accusations

Campaign News | Friday, 10 May 2002

TV address details Cuba's Biotechnology acheivements

Fidel Responds to US BioWar Allegations


315 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10016

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Official Translation - May 10, 2002

Hardly three days ago, someone only too well known to us, Assistant

Secretary of State Otto Reich, was caught out in an embarrassing lie

when he said that four Cuban planes had landed in the Venezuelan

capital on April 12, and that nobody knew "what they were doing

there, what they were carrying, we don't know." Apparently, it was

the beginning of an anti-Cuba campaign or a vendetta due to the

amazing failure of the fascist coup he set in motion, or both.

On Tuesday May 7, when the Ministry of Foreign Affairs challenged him

publicly, the State Department said that it had no confirmation

whatsoever, and that it did not want to discuss the subject any more.

The idea of destroying Cuba, an obsession that has lasted more than

43 years, has led and still leads U.S. policy down a tortuous path

filled with lies, mistakes, failures and crimes. What the US

government is telling the world today and what it is doing with Cuba

is perhaps the most grievous and demoralizing contradiction in its

foreign policy. This great power had never found itself in such a

compromising position and it has no alternative but to lie, lie and

lie. And there is no lack of unscrupulous characters in major public

positions willing to do so, no lack of press spokesmen caught up in

the continuous and bitter need to right wrongs and explain the

inexplicable in their bosses' statements.

Even a man like Colin Powell, son of Jamaican immigrants, despite his

military training or maybe because of it, is not considered a hawk

since he knows about war and has seen many men die -- a man that many

Americans even came to look on as a potential presidential candidate

-- has found himself enmeshed in shameful and un-ennobling intrigues

promoted by such characters. He knows better than anyone else how

inexperienced they are and what little intellectual and political

worth those people have.

Who can this new character involved in a sinister maneuver against

Cuba can deceive? Mr. John Bolton, an Under Secretary of State, none

other than the one for Arms Control. What are they aiming for with

the attack launched by this official in an aggressive speech against

Cuba given at the Heritage Foundation, famous for its ultra-rightwing


His statement, supposedly an analysis of the dangers of terrorism

threatening the United States, began by saying: "In addition to Libya

and Syria, there is a threat coming from another BWC signatory, and

one that lies just 90 miles from the U.S. mainland -- namely, Cuba."

Then, after the usual name-calling and stupid remarks full of the

hatred common in such arrogant and misinformed people, Mr. Bolton

added something all his own:

"We know that Cuba is collaborating with other state sponsors of


"Castro has repeatedly denounced the U.S. war on terrorism. He

continues to view terror as a legitimate tactic to further

revolutionary objectives. Last year, Castro visited Iran, Syria and

Libya -- all designees on the same list of terrorist-sponsoring

states. At Teheran University, these were his words: 'Iran and Cuba, in cooperation with each other, can bring America to its knees. The

U.S. regime is very weak, and we are witnessing this weakness from


"'But Cuba's threat to our security has often been underplayed. An

official U.S. government report in 1998 concluded that Cuba did not

represent a significant military threat to the United States or the

region. It went only so far as to say that, "Cuba has a limited

capacity to engage in some military and intelligence activities which

could pose a danger to U.S. citizens in some circumstances.'"

Mr. Bolton immediately looked for something to cover up the

suspicious fact that it had never before occurred to any US

government official to make such an infamous accusation against Cuba.

Mr. Bolton blames this weakness on William Cohen, who was the U.S.

Defense Secretary four years earlier when the criticized report was

issued. Mr. Bolton made not the slightest mention of the fact that

scarcely five months and two weeks earlier, on November 19, 2001, he

himself made absolutely no mention of Cuba in a speech given to the

conference of the parties to the Convention on Biological Weapons in

Geneva when he cited many countries that were a source of concern to

him as potential biological weapons producers. Why this sudden and

unexpected change?

Mr. Bolton's May 6 piece of tabloid journalism ends by saying: "For

four decades Cuba has maintained a well-developed and sophisticated

biomedical industry, supported until 1990 by the Soviet Union. This

industry is one of the most advanced in Latin America, and leads in

the production of pharmaceuticals and vaccines that are sold

worldwide. Analysts and Cuban defectors have long cast suspicion on

the activities conducted in these biomedical facilities.

"Here is what we now know: The United States believes that Cuba has

at least a limited offensive biological warfare

research-and-development effort. Cuba has provided dual-use

biotechnology to other rogue states. We are concerned that such

technology could support BW programs in those states. We call on Cuba

to cease all BW-applicable cooperation with rogue states and to fully

comply with all of its obligations under the Biological Weapons


The international press immediately picked up Mr. Bolton's string of

Olympic-size lies, which is exactly what he wanted:

"Washington, May 6 (ANSA)--Under Secretary of State John Bolton today

accused Cuba of helping "enemy governments' with biological weapons


"'Cuba had at least an offensive biological weapons program and could

be transferring its results to other states hostile to the United

States', Bolton said.

"The Under Secretary Bolton spoke to the Heritage Foundation, one of

the ultraconservative groups in Washington."

"Washington, May 6 (DPA)--The United States today accused Cuba of

developing offensive biological weapons and of providing information

about them to states hostile to the United States, and urged

President Fidel Castro's government to cease this cooperation."

"Washington, May 6 (REUTERS)--On Monday, the United States accused

three countries -- Cuba, Libya and Syria -- of trying to develop

weapons of mass destruction and warned that it would take steps to

prevent them from supplying these arms to terrorist groups.

"'States that sponsor terror and pursue weapons of mass destruction

must stop. States that renounce terror and abandon WMD can become

part of our effort. But those who do not can expect to become our


"Washington, May 6 (EFE)--The United States today added Cuba to Syria

and Libya on the list of countries who are part of the "axis of evil'

dedicated to manufacturing weapons of mass destruction, and warned

that it would take steps to prevent them from supplying such weapons

to terrorist organizations."

"Washington, May 6 (NOTIMEX)--The United States today included Cuba

in the so-called "axis of evil' because it thinks it has the capacity

to develop biological weapons which are a threat to United States

security, a greater threat than that from Iraq, Iran and North


"Washington, May 6 (AFP)--On Monday, the United States warned Cuba

against any proliferation of biological weapons, urging the Havana

government to cease providing any kind of biotechnological equipment

to countries that Washington considers dangerous, such as Iraq and


The list and the extension of articles and reports on the subject

would be endless.

The job is already done! The entire world, especially the American

public that is constantly bombarded with perfidious lies, has been

informed and is ready to believe that Cuba is a biological power, that it has a program for producing such weapons and that it poses a

danger to the United States. And as John Bolton, the very

distinguished Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and

International Security, has said it, we have to believe it.

However, as the old saying goes: "Lies have short legs." In the

United States itself some people are astounded and they are beginning

to figure out the whole game:

"Washington, May 6 (NOTIMEX)--The United States today refused to

produce the evidence it had claimed to have to back up the

accusations made against Cuba.

"Both, the White House and State Department spokesmen said that the

accusation against Cuba is not based on assumptions but on

confidential information about the biological and chemical potential

of the Cuban pharmaceutical industry.

"This accusation took not only the international community by

surprise but also members of the United States Congress."

According to the same dispatch, "political analysts pointed out that

the accusation against Cuba made by President George W. Bush's

administration could be part of a White House strategy to find a

justification for tightening its isolationist policy on Cuba.

"The statement that Cuba could pose a terrorist threat to the

security of the United States was made at a time when several

proposals to relax Washington's Cuba policy are being analyzed on

Capital Hill.

"Nevertheless, political analysts maintain that in view of this and

bearing in mind that his brother Jeb will be seeking reelection as

governor of Florida this year, President Bush wants to ingratiate

himself with the Cuban exile community.

"Given the fact that more than four decades of economic blockade

against Cuba have not removed Fidel Castro from power in Havana, the

only people who want this isolationist policy to remain in effect and

[more extreme] are the vast majority of the Cuban exile community in

the United States.

"The possibility of including Cuba as a member of the so-called 'axis

of evil' with Iraq, Iran and North Korea at the head would make it

easier for Bush to obtain the Congress backing for increasing instead

of reducing the economic stranglehold on the Island."

"Washington, May 6 (AP)--"'I think that it will delay us taking new

steps towards a trade opening,' said Graham, chairman of the Senate

Select Committee on Intelligence. 'Unilateral steps will be most


"Graham, however, did not hide his amazement at Bolton's accusation.

He said that in March the Committee he chairs held a secret hearing

on security related issues and the administration made no mention of

biological weapons."

On May 7, when a journalist asked White House spokesman Ari

Fleischer: "Is there any proof of this, or is this an assumption of

the United States?" Fleischer replied: "No, it's not an assumption. I

assure you that Secretary Bolton would not have said it if he did not

have good cause, reason and fact to say it. That was based on sound

analysis, and on information that is studied and available to the

United States government."

This is a typical reply by someone who is launching an absolutely

baseless and groundless accusation. The only thing studied carefully

is lies and deceit. It is certainly a very sad role this spokesman

has. Furthermore, why should we believe Mr. Bolton?

Anyone who remembers the fifteen incredible pretexts, known today

through declassified official documents, that were elaborated at the

end of 1961 by the high US authorities to undertake a direct military

attack against Cuba in 1962, would not be surprised by such a

sinister lie. We demand proof. Let them produce even the tiniest

piece of evidence! They do not have any, and they cannot have them

because they simply do not exist. They should not be hiding behind

the alleged sensitivity of their sources, when there is actually not

an atom of truth in what they are saying. This very old trick and

overly stupid argument only serve to demonstrate their little

consideration for, and low concept of, the American people whose

intelligence deserve more respect.

I will also say this: If a Cuban scientist from any of our

biotechnology institutes had been cooperating with any country in the

development of biological weapons, or if he or she had tried to

create them on his or her own initiative, he or she would be

immediately presented in a court of justice as we would consider it

an act of treason to the country.

The Law against Terrorist Acts passed by the National Assembly of

Cuba, in its Article 10, provides: "The person who manufactures, facilitates, sells, transports, sends, introduces in the country or

keeps in his or her possession, under any form or in any place {...}

chemical or biological agents, or any other substance from whose

investigation, design or combination thereof any product can be

derived that meets the description offered," is liable to sanctions

of 10 to 30 years of imprisonment, life sentence or capital


This is really an absolute lie, a treacherous blow against the sale

of food to Cuba authorized in a Law from the year 2000, which was

subsequently modified on many occasions through amendments introduced

by the staunch advocates of the blockade that made it practically

impossible to apply it after it had been passed. They are simply

trying to mislead and dishearten the growing number of Americans who

are increasingly upset by the most cruel and inhuman measures against

the Cuban people, which clash with the idealism, and ethics of a

nation that has, in fact, been deceived for dozens of years with

regards to Cuba.

The only truth in Bolton's lie is that Cuba is 90 miles from the

continental territory of the United States.

It is a false and manipulated assertion that our country has

repeatedly denounced the United States war against terrorism. I have

said, and I stand by it, that the solution to this scourge will not

be reached through war, which would only serve to breed hatred and

fanaticism but rather through a sincere and determined cooperation

among all countries in the world and by building a truly universal

culture and conscience against terrorism.

We were the first to put forward this form of cooperation the very

same day of the tragedy in New York.

It is a slanderous invention, a fabricated lie, to say that Castro

considers terror as a legitimate tactic for furthering revolutionary

objectives. Actually, everybody knows that our revolutionary movement

never used such methods that do not fit in with our doctrine, our

principles and our concept of the armed struggle.

Mr. Bolton, you'd better get your facts right. Don't be misled by the

fantastic stories told by your dear friends from the CANF. Never were

the civilian population and innocent people the victims of our

actions. Our tactic always was to fight against heavily equipped

enemy units. Presently, you want to call terrorism any armed

resistance, regardless of the legitimate causes that may justify it.

Along that line you could end up applying such definition to the

struggle of the American colonists who rebelled and fought against

English domination. George Washington and those who, after long years

of war and enormous sacrifices, conquered the independence of the

United States of America were not terrorists.

Someone has failed you badly, Mr. Bolton, when they told you about my

speech at the university of Teheran. It was not one speech, but two, in two universities and a few remarks at the end of my visit to the

mausoleum that keeps the remains of the Imam Khomeini. I have gone

over them both in detail. In my remarks to the students in Teheran, there is not one single paragraph that resembles the one you

dishonestly included in your speech at the Heritage Foundation on May

6. I never said that "Iran and Cuba in cooperation with each other

could bring the United States to its knees." I did say, in one of the

three speeches I made during that visit, that imperialism was bereft

of ideas, that ideas are more powerful than weapons, and that one day

imperialism would crumble. I also said that "the Iranian people, with

heroism and not with weapons, defeated the Shah, and this showed the

power of ideas. Also, there could never be anyone in the world so

powerful that could not be defeated by ideas."

Finally, I added: "That is our hope. There is a superpower with

thousands of nuclear arms, planes, armored ships, aircraft carriers, intelligent missiles [...] No matter how many weapons nor how much

wealth it has, it will not be able to defeat human beings."

I made not the slightest mention of the use of weapons in that

struggle. In fact, I said just the opposite. That is what I think, that is how I saw it then and that is what I said. I am not in the

habit of hiding my thoughts or manipulating my words. My three

speeches in the Iranian capital were broadcast on Cuban radio and

television. Thus, Mr. Bolton did not discover anything, and I do not

renounce my ideas. I said some other things about doctrines and

political principles. I have all the tapes and the transcription of

those speeches. I can prove what I have said.

It should also be said that when I visited Iran, I had the honor of

getting to know a great country with a culture that goes back

thousands of years, a country with deep religious beliefs and a great

spiritual strength; a country wanting to eradicate poverty, fighting

against drug trafficking and other such plagues, determined to bring

education, health, employment and well being to more than 60 million

people. Not one of the many leaders I talked to said anything to me

about biological weapons or any other kind of weapon.

What a great difference I could perceive between that culture and

customs with those of the West. But, I did not only visit that

country, I also visited Algeria, Malaysia, Qatar, Syria and Libya

where they showed me how Ghadafi's family home had been destroyed and

spoke about the loss of human life caused by the F-16 brutal air

raid, including a little girl.

Thousands of years of history accumulate in that part of the world, which must not be destroyed, nor their people annihilated. Billions

of people in the world have seen with deep indignation the televised

images of the terrible events in Palestine.

Apparently, when Mr. Bolton alluded to my speech in Teheran, he

irresponsibly and dishonestly mixed excerpts of what I had said with

fragments and statements of what other people said to foreign press

agencies, and information from wire service cables given by someone

else or things the speechwriter invented. My clear, precise, transparent statements can be found in the speeches I have mentioned

and in the press communiqué of May 10, 2001 issued by both

delegations where, by the way, the Cuban position against terrorism

is described in point 6 of the agreed document that literally reads:

"While condemning the phenomenon of terrorism in all its forms, especially state terrorism, the two parties agreed to cooperate

closely at a bilateral and international level to fight against and

eliminate this terrible phenomenon, to cooperate in the fight against

international organized crime and drug trafficking, being always

mindful of the cardinal principles of international law, and

particularly those of sovereignty and non-interference in the

internal affairs of states."

This statement was issued 127 days before September 11.

I should thank Mr. Bolton for his praise of our pharmaceutical

industry, one of the most advanced in Latin America, which "leads in

the production of pharmaceuticals and vaccines that are sold

worldwide," according to his own words. We only wish it was more

advanced. Even his country could benefit from some of its

discoveries, but they would not allow it. However, he lies

shamelessly when he tells the American and world public opinion that

the United States believes that Cuba has at least a limited offensive

biological warfare research and development effort. This statement is

as false as it is grave.

Our researchers and doctors are educated with an elevated concept of

solidarity and ethics. Millions of people in the world can testify to

that. They work for the well being and health of human beings. For 40

years, 34,307 Cuban medical doctors and health workers have worked

free of charge in a large number of poor countries saving the lives

and safeguarding the health of millions of people. Nobody in the

world could beat them in their dedication and their willingness to

make sacrifices.

At this very moment, 2,671 of them are working in isolated and

inhospitable places in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa. It

would be very difficult to persuade these men and women to produce

viruses and bacteria to kill children, women, old people or the

people of any country. The pride and high moral standards of our

people, which have led them to stand firm against 43 years of attacks

and blockade, rests on the rationality of a policy that does not

contradict their ethics and principles.

Thirty-nine thousand and eight hundred youths coming from more than

120 Third World countries have graduated in Cuba from 33 technical

and university specialties. Even under the conditions prevailing in

the special period, which resulted from the cruel blockade by the

United States, 8,053 youths from Latin America, the Caribbean and

Africa are studying medicine in our country free of charge, a career

that costs more than $200,000 in the United States.

In spite of Bolton's lies and those of many others like him, Cuba

enjoys great prestige because of the health services it has provided

to humanity. That is, for its true fight against another kind of

terrorism that many choose to ignore: the diseases that kill more

than 11 million children every year, whose lives could be saved were

it not for the selfish attitude of the industrialized world. An

incalculable number of people survive or recover their health thanks

to the selfless work of the doctors who come from a poor small

country and treat them with vaccines and preventive methods or

therapies developed by Cuba.

We would like to know if the U.S. government is doing something

similar, or if it would be prepared to cooperate with such programs

for the benefit of those that it euphemistically describes as

"emerging countries," as we have not excluded any economically

developed nation from our programs.

We have even offered hundreds of scholarships to study in the Latin

American School of Medical Sciences to U.S. youngsters who don't have

the money to study medicine in their country.

Cuban children are vaccinated against 13 diseases and enjoy wonderful

health. The infant mortality rate for every thousand live births is

lower than that of the United States itself. Medical care is

guaranteed to one hundred percent of the population absolutely free

of charge. Unfortunately in the United States, with a population of

over 280 million, 16 percent of the people do not have medical

insurance, and that includes more than 10 million children. In such

an immensely rich and scientifically advanced country where hundreds

of thousands of people die every year for these reasons, who is to

blame? Who kills these people? Who denounces such facts? How can they

invent, what gives them the moral right to claim from over there, and

who is going to believe their heinous slander that we Cubans are

developing biological warfare programs?

On the other hand, never in the 43 years of the Revolution's history

has anyone in our country launched or taken part in a terrorist act

against the United States from our territory. Not one drop of US

blood has been shed nor has any US company lost a single screw due to

terrorist acts originated in Cuba.

Those who in the United States are accusing our country of terrorism, or of supporting or sponsoring terrorism, cannot say that about Cuba.

Thousands of our compatriots have died and tens of thousands of acts

of sabotage have been recorded as part of terrorist actions and US

aggression against Cuba. Can their spokesmen deny these facts? I am

not referring to the American people; I am referring to their

government. The overriding question of the powers given to U.S.

government officials to effectuate extrajudicial executions and to

kill people anywhere in the world has not even been clarified. I have

personally often been the target of these sinister plans. That was

how they operated in the past. Have they or haven't they gone back to

such disgusting methods? Why doesn't Mr. Bolton tell us a little bit

about that subject?

As for weapons of mass destruction, Cuba's policy has been

irreproachable. No one has ever produced a single piece of evidence

that any program for developing nuclear, chemical or biological

weapons has been set up in our country. Those who have no sense of

ethics, or who fail to understand that the government of Cuba abides

by truth and transparency, might at least understand that it would

have been utterly stupid to behave in any other way. Any such program

would lead the economy of any small country to bankruptcy. Cuba would

never have been able to transport such weapons. Moreover, it would

be a mistake to use them in battle against an enemy that has a

thousand times more of those weapons and that would be only to happy

to find an excuse to use them.

>From a political point of view, we are living in an era when there

are and there will be weapons much more powerful that any produced

through technology, namely: the weapons of morality, reason and

ideas; with them no country is weak, but without them no nation is

powerful. Adherence to such a maxim requires exceptionally strong

convictions, steel nerves and talent. They should know by now that, as far as the Cuban people is concerned, the ideals that inspire

freedom, dignity, love of one's homeland, its identity, its culture

and the strictest sense of justice that human beings can conceive of

are more valuable than anything on Earth. These are not weapons of

mass destruction, but rather weapons of mass moral defense, and we

are willing to fight and die for them.

I understand that for a man like Bolton, intoxicated with the

military, economic and technological might of the superpower on whose

behalf he speaks, it might not be easy to understand these things.

However, it would be a good idea if he tried.

Cuba has absolutely nothing to hide. On the contrary, it is proud of

its development in the biomedical research field.

I shall offer a brief historical summary.

-1979: the Genetic Engineering Group was set up in the National

Center for Scientific research.

-1981: the first biotechnology scientific-productive institution

devoted to producing alpha and beta interferon was founded.

-The medical-pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry program: this

came into being as a result of the scientific, economic and social

development the country had achieved.

-Cuba met the standards for inspection and certification by

international agencies and by the national regulatory agencies of

those countries with which it was to have trading relations.

-The major part of the investment program is developed between 1990

and 1997. It would comprise 40 facilities.

-A completely humanitarian industry is developed to research and

produce medicines for preventing disease and saving lives, as well as

to increase food production.

-The purchase of technological equipment used worldwide from

commercial companies with an international reputation.

-Abiding by agreements entered by Cuba in compliance with the

Convention on Biological and Toxin Weapons, the Cuban biotechnology

industry, the health system and the civil defense organizations

submit an annual report to the United Nations on confidence building


-Many regulatory agencies from various countries have visited Cuban

productive biotechnology facilities as a prerequisite for marketing

our products in their countries.

-In the next few years, 50 new products will come on to the market.

These include biopharmaceuticals, vaccines and diagnosis kits.

-Our country already has a stock of intellectual property consisting

of more than 150 inventions and over 500 patents registered abroad.

The results of scientific research are published in the most

important international journals.

-1990: Our products began to be exported and exports have increased

every year since then.

-1992: Cuba signed the Convention on Biological Diversity ratified in


-1995: landmark forms of marketing are introduced: technology

transfers, at-risk development contracts with foreign companies, and

production-commercial partnerships.

-Today, products and technology of the Cuban biotechnology industry

are available in more than 40 countries

Agreements for Technology transfers or negotiations are currently

underway with 14 countries:

India: 4 transfers, 4 products

China: 2 transfers, 4 products.

Brazil: 2 transfers, 2 products.

Egypt: 4 transfers, 1 product under negotiation.

Malaysia: 6 transfers.

Iran: 4 transfers, 4 products.

Russia: 1 transfer, 1 product.

South Africa: 1 transfer, 1 product.

Tunisia: 1 transfer, 1 product.

Algeria: 1 transfer, 3 products.

Great Britain-Belgium: 1 transfer, 1 product.

Venezuela: 1 transfer, 2 products under negotiation.

Mexico: 1 transfer, 1 product

New trade and production negotiations are underway with 10 countries:

Malaysia, Holland, Spain, Brazil, Venezuela, Vietnam, Mexico, Ukraine, Germany and the United States (in this case, negotiations

over the use of the Cuban anti-meningitis vaccine and the first

contacts for possible clinical trials with the EGF vaccine for lung


Cuban biotechnology centers have already registered:

24 products, both biopharmaceuticals and vaccines.

49 cutting edge generic medicine.

5 products for treating AIDS.

15 new medical equipment

24 diagnosis systems.

And moving on from these results, scientific research is now focusing

on 60 projects.

Among the most significant new products that scientific researchers

try to obtain are the following:

29 new vaccines including 8 cancer vaccines, 4 of which are in the

clinical trial stage not only in Cuba but also in Canada, Argentina

and England.

21 innovative products for treating cancer plus the 28 cytostatics

already known, which a new plant will begin producing.

Cuban biotechnology centers have filed for patents on 150 inventions

that would bring our total number of patents registered to 505. Four

of these patents have been awarded the Medal of the World

Intellectual Property Organization.

Countless politicians, scientists and businesspeople have visited

Cuban biotechnology institutes. In the year 2000, 1520 people visited

just one of the most important centers; 484 of them came from the

United States.

The doors of our research centers are opened to any international


In an official public note, Cuba has proposed three important draft

agreements to the United States, which are more beneficial for the

United States than they are for Cuba, given the extent of the

problems in each of the two countries. One, a draft agreement on

immigration issues; two, a draft cooperation agreement to fight

illegal traff

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