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Whatever Happened to the AIDS Conspiracy?

by Mark Sanborne, WW4 REPORT

“Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone.”

In the last installment in this series we discussed Biopreparat, the Soviet Union’s massive yet surprisingly covert biological warfare program, the frightening details of which only emerged in the West in the early 1990s. It didn’t become a huge public issue at the time because with the Cold War over and Russia our “friend,” Soviet-era misbehavior no longer had the same propaganda value. But a number of US scientists, security experts, and pundits did express shock and legitimate outrage over the extent of Soviet violations of the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC): “weaponizing” vast amounts and varieties of deadly bioagents, designing bioweapon warheads for their intercontinental MIRV missiles, and using the emerging science of gene-splicing to engineer ever-more deadly hybrid and “chimera” versions of existing pathogens.

Terrible stuff. So the question naturally arises: what, if anything, were US biowarriors up to during the heyday of Biopreparat in the 1970s and ’80s? Except, of course, the question is virtually never asked in official discourse and mainstream accounts. So let’s try to begin to answer it.

Both Washington and Moscow used the “defensive research” exception in the BWC to justify designing new varieties of bioagents, the argument being you had to create a threat (a new version of a virus or bacteria) so you could devise vaccines or other countermeasures against it before a potential enemy did. Specifically, the treaty only allows the possession of limited amounts of bioagents or toxins “for prophylactic, protective, and other peaceful purposes.” Both sides found ways to stretch that language considerably—except while the Soviets drove a tank through the loophole, the Americans used a sports car, leaving a much lighter footprint.

There’s no evidence that after signing the BWC the US developed new stockpiles of “classic” bioagents (such as anthrax, tularemia, brucellosis, bubonic plague, and smallpox), at least not on anything near the enormous scale the Soviets did. Nor has evidence emerged that the US ever put biowarheads on its ICBMs, though that could be one top secret that’s stayed buried. But, as with most technical fields, the US was ahead of the Soviets in the emerging science of molecular biology, and the record indicates that US military scientists played an important role in the development of that field in the 1970s.

Interestingly, as Washington was preparing to sign the BWC, President Nixon, as part of his “War on Cancer,” in 1971 shifted much of the Army’s biowar research facilities at Fort Detrick, Md., to the ostensible control of the National Cancer Institute. This allowed military scientists (or civilian scientists working for the military) to conduct cutting-edge genetic engineering experiments with biowar applications under the cover of legitimate cancer research. Much of the work was done as part of the somewhat sinisterly named Special Virus Cancer Program, which had been in existence since 1964—and about which more later.

And so the US bio-military-industrial complex continued to quietly thrive, spread out in an archipelago of government and private labs around the country, with much of the work being farmed out to drug giants like Merck and spookier outfits like Litton Bionetics. In a sense, it was a more under-the-radar version of Biopreparat, lacking its mass industrial-production facilities and toxic outdoor testing grounds, but surpassing it in developing the technical skills needed to devise a new generation of deadly bioagents.


Where did that path lead? When conspiracy-minded critics raise questions about the origins of the variety of new diseases and medical syndromes that “emerged” in the 1970s and ’80s, they often point to the so-called MacArthur testimony as a putative smoking gun. For those uninitiated into the mysteries, that would be one Dr. Donald MacArthur, then-director of the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, who on July 1, 1969, testified before the defense subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee on the “research, development, testing, and evaluation of synthetic biological agents,” among other things. A portion of his testimony was cited in Part 3 of this series, and referred to as a potential Rosetta Stone of bionia. Here is a more complete version, beginning with the good doctor’s exchange with Representatives Robert Sikes of Florida and Daniel Flood of Pennsylvania:

REP. SIKES: Tell us something about the biological weapons, both lethal and incapacitants. Tell us what we are doing and what the Russians are doing.

DR. MACARTHUR: I am sure all of you know biologicals are microorganisms. We have had a policy that the biological agents that we would try to develop would be noncontagious; that is, that it could not be passed on directly from individual to individual.

REP. FLOOD: Would they be effective if not contagious?

DR. MACARTHUR: They could be infectious from the standpoint that they would be used as a primary aerosol and infect people inhaling it. After that they could be carried from me to you, say by an insect vector—a mosquito, for example.

REP. FLOOD: Could they be effective and contagious?


REP. FLOOD: I doubt that. I doubt that.

DR. MACARTHUR: A contagious disease would not be effective as a biological warfare agent, although it might have devastating effects. It lacks the essential element of control which I alluded to earlier since there would be no way to predict or control the course of the epidemic that might result. [Emphasis added, here and below.]

REP. SIKES: Tell us the story of our progress and our capability.

DR. MACARTHUR: I want to reemphasize that our policy has been not to develop any contagious agents so that we could control the effects so that they would not “boomerang” on our own people if ever we were forced to use them. Typical examples of diseases caused by agents we have worked on are tularemia, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, “Q” fever, Venezuelan equine encephalitis. These agents are different from the chemicals in that they are naturally occurring diseases.

Talking about potential offensive agents, I will first restate the constraints I mentioned earlier that we have put on ourselves as a matter of policy to prevent exactly what people have been saying—that there will be a worldwide scourge, or a black death type disease that will envelop the world or major geographical areas if some of these materials were to accidentally escape. That could not possibly happen with the biological agents that we have. That is a constraint that we have put on ourselves.

However, to keep the record straight, we have done a small amount of research on a few agents that do not satisfy this constraint. [This is presumably a reference to US work with smallpox and bubonic plague.] The reason for this is that a potential enemy might use them against us and we have to be prepared to defend ourselves, so we try to develop vaccines and rapid identification systems, for example, for defensive purposes… Also, for most of these agents there is natural immunity. Some people will not be affected because of natural immunity. Second, you cannot use the same agent twice against the same population because after the first attack, the people build up immunity to that agent…

There are two things about the biological agent field I would like to mention. One is the possibility of technology surprise. Molecular biology is a field that is advancing very rapidly and eminent biologists believe that within a period of five to 10 years it would be possible to produce a synthetic biological agent, an agent that does not naturally exist and for which no natural immunity could have been acquired.

REP. SIKES: Are we doing any work in that field?

DR. MACARTHUR: We are not.

REP. SIKES: Why not? Lack of money or lack of interest?

DR. MACARTHUR: Certainly not lack of interest.

REP. SIKES. Would you provide for our records information on what would be required, what the advantages of such a program would be, the time and the cost involved?

MACARTHUR. We will be very happy to.

[The information follows:]

“The dramatic progress being made in the field of molecular biology led us to investigate the relevance of this field of science to biological warfare. A small group of experts considered this matter and provided the following observations:

1. All biological agents up the present time are representatives of naturally occurring disease, and are thus known by scientists throughout the world. They are easily available to qualified scientists for research, either for offensive or defensive purposes.

2. Within the next 5 to 10 years, it would probably be possible to make a new infective microorganism which could differ in certain important aspects from any known disease-causing organisms. Most important of these is that it might be refractory to the immunological and therapeutic processes upon which we depend to maintain our relative freedom from infectious disease.

3. A research program to explore the feasibility of this could be completed in approximately 5 years at a total cost of $10 million.

4. It would be very difficult to establish such a program. Molecular biology is a relatively new science. There are not many highly competent scientists in the field. Almost all are in university laboratories, and they are generally adequately supported from sources other than DOD. However, it was considered possible to initiate an adequate program through the National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council (NAS-NRC).

The matter was discussed with the NAS-NRC, and tentative plans were plans were made to initiate the program. However decreasing funds in CB [chemical and biological warfare], growing criticism of the CB program, and our reluctance to involve the NAS-NRC in such a controversial endeavor have led us to postpone it for the past 2 years. It is a highly controversial issue and there are many who believe such research should not be undertaken lest it lead to yet another method of massive killing of large populations. On the other hand, without the sure scientific knowledge that such a weapon is possible, and an understanding of the ways it could be done, there is little that can be done to devise defensive measures. Should an enemy develop it, there is little doubt that this is an important area of potential military technological inferiority in which there is no adequate research program.”

Postscript: The Pentagon got the requested $10 million for its research program, though it never officially announced what conclusions, recommendations, or “practical” results ultimately emerged from the effort. But here’s the key for those suspicious of the official story: MacArthur said the research could be completed in five years and that a synthetic biological agent “for which no natural immunity could have been acquired” could be produced “within the next five to 10 years.” A decade later, people—initially gay American men and shortly thereafter Africans and other populations around the world—suddenly began dying of what subsequently came to be called Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome: AIDS.

Technically speaking, despite some overlap in words, it’s clear that MacArthur was referring to a bioagent that, because of its laboratory origins, would be “refractory” (resistant) to the human immune system, not one that would damage or destroy it, as AIDS does by attacking crucial T-cells. However, that is a distinction without much difference, because suppressing immune function has the same effect as being resistant to it. Also, since MacArthur was speaking before the invention of such bioagents, he obviously couldn’t know what form their immunity resistance would ultimately take. But when all is said and done, the simple fact is that the man’s testimony is pretty damn spooky.


So what ever did happen to the purported AIDS “conspiracy”? We don’t hear much about it anymore—not that we ever really did, at least in the mainstream press. Interestingly, despite the lack of coverage, opinion polls over the years have consistently shown that many African Americans (though not a majority) believe AIDS is man-made and was deliberately targeted at black people, just as many believe that the CIA deliberately allowed crack cocaine to enter their communities during the Contra war in the 1980s. Such polls are sometimes cited by the press to show that blacks have a tendency to believe in such presumably false conspiracy theories due to their memory of real ones, like the Tuskegee syphilis experiments. (As in the case of Tuskegee, radiation experiments, Agent Orange, and Gulf War Syndrome, it’s generally a long time after the fact before the government fesses up to its role in any such terrible doings, and sometimes it never does.)

Some public figures have spoken out, though black politicians have generally shied away from the subject. In the early 1990s, comedian Bill Cosby said AIDS was “started by human beings to get after certain people they don’t like,” and director Spike Lee said, “AIDS is a government-engineered disease.” More recently, Kenyan ecologist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai in 2004 declared that HIV was created in a biological warfare lab, though she didn’t specify the country. “Us black people are dying more than any other people in this planet,” she said. “Why has there been so much secrecy about AIDS? When you ask where did the virus come from, it raises a lot of flags. That makes me suspicious.”

But way back, there were the initial stories that emerged out of East Germany in the 1980s that AIDS had been created in a US biowar lab. The fact that the accounts were widely disseminated at the time by the Soviets, particularly in the Third World, made them easy to dismiss as crude disinformation. But the original source for the charges, Jakob Segal, an emeritus biology professor at Humboldt University in East Berlin who died in 1995, was a Russian-Lithuanian Jew who adamantly denied being a state propaganda tool, saying he couldn’t convince his East German academic colleagues to even consider his AIDS claims.

“Nobody in the Stasi [East German intelligence] had the technical expertise to have produced such a theory,” he said in 1992. “It was my work and mine along, and I refuse to allow a few sensation-hungry journalists to deprive me of the credit for it.”

In brief, Segal asserted that HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), believed to be the cause of AIDS, was actually Visna, a fatal sheep virus, that had been combined in a lab—he pointed to Fort Detrick—with a small percentage of HTLV-1 (Human T-Cell Leukemia Virus). The more detailed genomic analysis of HIV that has since become possible reportedly rules out Segal’s hypothesis, and the current establishment view is that HIV is most closely related to the variety of SIV (Simian Immunodeficiency Virus) found in West African chimpanzees, and which somehow “jumped species” into humans sometime in the relatively recent past.

One of the more detailed and fascinating (if rambling) accounts of the Segal saga is a 30-page article titled “Was There an AIDS Contract?” posted on the Internet in 1994 by layman Michael Morrissey, who cites his numerous written exchanges with Segal and other scientists about the possibility of an AIDS conspiracy. Morrissey apparently likes writing about his back-and-forths with controversial figures, having penned another discursive online narrative called “My Beef With Chomsky,” which involved both AIDS and the JFK assassination.


In fact, along with such non-experts, there are a number of interesting characters with MDs attached to their names who regularly crop up when you type AIDS conspiracy queries into your search engine. Here are some of those who appear most often, either in their own writings (some of them quite dated) or cited by others for their supposed expertise:

Dr. Robert B. Strecker: Author of the “Strecker Memorandum,” a video peddled online that cited government documents and medical literature to connect AIDS to infected smallpox and hepatitis vaccines administered in Africa and the US in the 1970s. The tale of the Los Angeles internist and pathologist comes complete with two possibly suspicious deaths: his brother and research assistant, Ted, an attorney who supposedly shot himself but left no note, and Illinois state Rep. Douglas Huff, a vocal proponent of Strecker’s theories in the Chicago area who died of an overdose of cocaine and heroin. Both deaths took place within weeks of each other in 1988.

Dr. Boyd E. Graves: Links AIDS to biowar research by both the US and Soviet governments. In 1999 he claimed to have discovered a “flow chart” of the Special Virus Cancer Program from 1971 that demonstrated the incremental development of a lab-produced virus designed to undermine the immune systems of people of African descent. He also claims to have been infected by AIDS and then cured by a single injection of tetrasilver teotroxide, which he said was a US patented cure to the disease that’s been suppressed by the government, though he also points the finger at an Israeli medical institute and pharmaceutical company.

Dr. William C. Douglas: Includes elements similar to both Strecker and Graves, and like Graves he seems to believe there was some kind of communist role in fostering AIDS, whether in conjunction with the US or by infiltrating agents into Fort Detrick. Douglas also believes that the UN’s World Health Organization essentially created the AIDS epidemic via contaminated smallpox vaccines administered around the world, particularly in African locations, between 1966 and 1977. (See his online article “WHO Murdered Africa.”)

Dr. Leonard Horowitz: A doctor of dental medicine with a masters in public health from Harvard, “Len” is a motivational speaker who’s been dubbed (or dubs himself) “The King David of Natural Healing vs. the Goliath of Slash, Burn and Poison Medicine.” He’s published Emerging Viruses: AIDS & Ebola: Nature, Accident or Intentional? and Death in the Air: Globalism, Terrorism and Toxic Warfare under his own Tetrahedon imprint. A self-described Messianic Jew, he claims to have discovered codes in the Bible relating to electromagnetic, tone, and sound frequencies that can be used for healing. He was invited to testify before Congress about the dangers of vaccines and their reputed role in causing autism among children. And according to the Quackerywatch website, while waiting for Armageddon Horowitz lives on an isolated lake in northern Idaho not far from Ruby Ridge, an area famous for its white supremacists and end-timers. Nevertheless, he is a source of interesting information.

Dr. Alan Cantwell: A retired dermatologist and researcher who published dozens of scientific papers through the mid-1980s, many on Kaposi’s sarcoma, the “gay cancer.” He is the author of AIDS and the Doctors of Death: An Inquiry into the Origins of the AIDS Epidemic and Queer Blood: The Secret AIDS Genocide Plot, which like Horowitz he had to publish under his own imprint. Despite such dramatic titles, by the evidence of his numerous online articles Cantwell is actually one of the more careful writers of his ilk, generally not getting too far ahead of the evidence he cites or uncovers. He believes AIDS grew out of the Special Virus Cancer Program and was most likely deliberately tested on gay men with infected Hepatitis B vaccines in major American cities from 1978 to 1981, as well as in the WHO smallpox vaccination campaigns in Central Africa in the 1970s.


Leaving the “fringe” for the moment, it’s also interesting to note the amount of uncertainty that exists about the origins of AIDS even among some of the field’s top scientists:

Robert Gallo—the disputed co-discoverer of the HIV retrovirus along with French scientist Luc Montagnier—stated in 1987 that the proposed link between the WHO smallpox vaccination campaign and AIDS was “interesting and important,” adding that “live vaccines such as that used for smallpox can activate a dormant infection such as HIV.”

Matilde Krim, a top cancer virologist and co-chair of the American Foundation for AIDS Research, has raised the possibility that AIDS was caused by the experimental hepatitis-B vaccine, though unlike Cantwell she believes it was due to accidental contamination.

Harvard virologist Max Essex performed experiments that he says showed that the American strain of HIV spreads more easily via anal tissue, whereas the African strains spread more readily via vaginal tissue. This could explain the higher percentage of African women who become infected, while also raising further questions about the virus’ possibly “customized” origins.

Montagnier himself became less of a darling of the official AIDS establishment when in 1990 he declared that HIV by itself was “a peaceful virus” that only became dangerous in the presence of another co-factor: a hard-to-detect, super-tiny, bacteria-like bug called a mycoplasma, which in its normal form is mostly harmless to humans. Similar conclusions were arrived at in separate studies by Shyh-Ching Lo, director of AIDS pathology at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, and Robert Root-Bernstein, winner of a MacArthur “genius grant.” (No, not that MacArthur.) The work of all three men was ultimately either dismissed or ignored by the AIDS establishment. Gallo, who had also raised the idea of an AIDS co-factor, stopped discussing the subject.

Another of the country’s top virologists, Peter Duesberg of UC Berkeley, who isolated the first oncogene (cancer gene) through his work on retroviruses in 1970, has also been cast out as a heretic for saying HIV does not cause AIDS but is merely a coincidental marker for some people in high-risk AIDS populations. He became even more of a pariah when his theory that AIDS infections result from a complex combination of poverty, malnutrition, chronic disease, and other environmental factors was embraced by South African President Thabo Mbeki and other top African National Congress officials. Duesberg maintains that the many conditions lumped together under the rubric of “AIDS” are not sexually transmissible or otherwise infectious, and that AIDS is not viral in nature. He says AIDS (as opposed to HIV) cases in the US and Europe occur almost entirely among long-term intravenous and recreational drug users—primarily gay men. Most shockingly, he contends that when people test positive for the “harmless” HIV retrovirus and are then treated with toxic antiviral drugs like AZT, eventually it actually causes AIDS-like symptoms by compromising otherwise healthy immune systems.


Smallpox and hepatitis-B vaccines aren’t the only possible alternative culprits for the spread of AIDS. In his 1999 book The River: A Journey to the Source of HIV and AIDS, author Edward Hooper marshals much evidence to support his hypothesis that the origin of HIV could be traced to the testing of an oral polio vaccine called Chat, which in the late 1950s was given to an estimated one million people in what was then the Belgian Congo. The theory is that vaccine may been cultivated in kidney cells harvested from local chimpanzees who were infected with SIV, ultimately causing the virus to jump species. However, one of the original manufacturers of Chat announced in 2000 that it had discovered a single leftover phial of the virus that had been used in the program, analyzed it, and found that it had been made from monkeys and did include HIV or chimp SIV.

Whether or not or not that finding is the death-knell of Hooper’s theory, it’s certainly not the end of controversy for the polio vaccine. It turns out AIDS was not the only primate virus to make the jump to humans. In a shocking and virtually unknown yet true story, it turns out that virtually every dose of Jonas Salk’s oral polio vaccine that was given to 98 million Americans in the baby-boom years between 1954 and 1963 was contaminated with a monkey virus known as Simian Virus #40. Numerous independent studies have shown that SV40 can cause cancer in humans, including rapidly fatal lung cancer (mesothelioma), bone marrow cancer (multiple myeloma), and brain tumors in children. Yet the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control down through the years have continued to deny or ignore any such links.

The details of this horrifying story are laid out in a 2004 book, The Virus and the Vaccine: The True Story of a Cancer-Causing Monkey Virus, Contaminated Polio Vaccine, and the Millions of Americans Exposed, by Debbie Bookchin and Jim Schumacher. As if the story couldn’t get any worse, the authors report that Lederle Laboratories, the government’s sole supplier of oral vaccines from 1977 onward, continued to use monkey kidneys possibly infected with SV40 in its production process until oral polio vaccine was removed from the market as late as January 2000.


Getting back to the “fringe,” it should be noted that most if not all of the non-establishment AIDS conspiracy theorists cited earlier agree that a primary reason that Western elites would choose to design and loose something like the AIDS pandemic upon the world would be as a radical method of population control. In this context, two more of the “usual suspects” pop up: the Rockefeller family and one of their most loyal servants, Henry Kissinger.

Many conspiracist accounts (at least those that don’t go all the way back to the Illuminati or some other such uber-group) start with the Third International Conference of Eugenics held in 1932, coincidentally the same year the Tuskegee experiments began. The sponsors included members of leading families like the Rockefellers, Duponts, Harrimans, Morgans, Kellogs, and even Leonard Darwin, the son of Charles Darwin. The conference unanimously elected as president of the International Federation of Eugenics Organizations one Dr. Ernst Rudin, who later became the architect of Hitler’s “racial hygiene” program. Around the same time, as discussed in Part 3 of this series, Dr. Erich Traub was studying bacteriology and virology at the Rockefeller Institute in Princeton, N.J. He would subsequently head Hitler’s secret biological warfare laboratory during World War II before returning to the US and helping establish the Plum Island, N.Y., animal disease research lab, which played a shadowy role in the US biowar effort.

Critics then trace the transformation of eugenics—which thanks to the Nazis became taboo in the post-war period—into the more palatable modern concept of population control, as exemplified by the formation of the Population Council by the Rockefeller Foundation in 1952 and the establishment of State Department’s Office of Population Affairs in 1966. Finally, along the with the MacArthur testimony, the conspiracists like to point to a slightly less smoking gun: “National Security Study Memorandum 200: Implications of Worldwide Population Growth for US Security and Overseas Interests,” released in 1974 under the auspices of Kissinger, then serving as both national security adviser and secretary of state. The document remained classified until 1990. However, while it makes clear that aggressive Third World population-control measures would be necessary to ensure US “national security” in the decades ahead, and points to the likelihood of future famines and disease outbreaks as putting some brakes on population growth, it doesn’t hint at any covert strategies to help the process along. Then again, you wouldn’t really expect such evidence in an official government document.


Alan Cantwell has written at length about the experimental hepatitis-B vaccine that was given to healthy gay men beginning in 1978 in New York City and shortly thereafter in other major cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver, and St. Louis. In 1979, the first cases of what would become known as AIDS began appearing in Manhattan and subsequently in the other cities as well. Cantwell obviously doesn’t think that’s a coincidence. He writes in his “The Secret Origin of AIDS in America”:

The exclusive introduction of HIV into the homosexual population of New York City is an unprecedented event in the history of medicine. This biologic phenomenon has never been explained scientifically. There is certainly no evidence to indicate white gay men were the only people exposed to sexual contact with Africans, particularly at a time when the epidemic did not even exist in Africa. [Or at least was not recognized—MS] Furthermore, it is biologically impossible for a purported sexually-transmitted and blood borne “virus out of Africa” to infect only young, white, healthy men in Manhattan! Yet the impossible did happen. Despite these facts, we are repeatedly told that AIDS began in Africa, even though the American epidemic began before the African epidemic.

Cantwell also details how the New York Blood Center, which conducted the hepatitis-B campaign, used vaccines developed from chimpanzees—theoretically the source of the SIV strain that mutated into HIV. In 1974, the center switched the chimp hepatitis research from a local New York animal lab to a new primate center called VILAB II in Liberia. “Chimps were captured from various parts of West Africa and brought to VILAB,” according to Cantwell. “The lab also prides itself on releasing ‘rehabilitated’ chimps back into the wild. One cannot help but wonder if some of the purported ‘ancestors’ of HIV in the African bush have their origin in chimpanzees held in African primate labs for vaccine and medical experimentation.”

Yet another disturbing wrinkle involves Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS), the cancer associated with AIDS. “In 1994 it was reported that KS is actually caused by a new ‘herpes-8’ virus,” Cantwell writes. “KS cases were first discovered in the late 19th century, and before AIDS it was a rare form of cancer. Before AIDS, KS was a non-transmissible disease that was never seen in young American men. The finding of a new KS virus indicates that two different viruses were simultaneously introduced into gay men when AIDS began in the late 1970s. No rational explanation has been put forth for this bizarre occurrence.”


Under the category of leaving the scariest bit for last, we conclude with a look at the aforementioned Special Virus Cancer Program, or SVCP. Started in 1964, its name was shortened to the Cancer Virus Program (CVP) in 1973 “to integrate the program’s research activities into the framework of the new National Cancer Plan.” It brought together many of the nation’s top virologists, biochemists, molecular biologists, and related specialists, including some familiar names: Robert Gallo, Peter Duesberg, and Max Essex. Much of the work was contracted out to private companies like the military-linked Litton Bionetics. The aim was to discover if viruses caused some kinds of human cancer so that vaccines could be derived to prevent them. Eventually, studies focused on two classes of theoretically carcinogenic viruses: RNA-type tumor retroviruses and DNA herpes-type viruses. Officially, however, the program did not succeed in finding any human cancer-causing viruses before it closed up shop in 1980. But shortly thereafter AIDS exploded and the HIV retrovirus was discovered, and a decade later the “herpes-8” virus was found to be the cause of the now transmissible Kaposi’s sarcoma.

For most of the “usual suspect” critics cited above, the SVCP/CVP is the holy grail of the whole AIDS conundrum because, while little known and supposedly unsuccessful in its key aim, the program spawned much of the cutting-edge research that would have been necessary to design a new class of contagious cancer-causing agents. While many of the critics have written about its importance (such as Boyd Graves and his famous “flow chart”), to explain the program in more detail we will again turn to the work of Cantwell because unlike others he appears to have done significant original research on the subject. Specifically, he has studied the CVP’s annual reports (published by the NIH but hard to find) from the years 1971-74 and 1976-78. As he notes: “Each report is 300-400 pages, and the cumulative volumes refer to thousands of animal cancer virus and genetic engineering experiments.”

“The annual CVP Reports must be studied with an awareness that the program became wedded to secret biological warfare research in the early 1970s,” Cantwell notes. Officially, the SVCP/CVP became part of the Frederick Cancer Center at Fort Detrick when the Army joined much of its biowar facilities to the National Cancer Institute in 1971. According to the 1970s documents, the new center’s main task was “the large-scale production of oncogenic [cancer-causing] viruses and suspected oncogenic viruses to meet research needs on a continuing basis,” with a special focus on primate viruses and the successful propagation of “human candidate viruses,” defined as animal or human viruses that might cause human cancers. Scientists also studied the role human and non-human primate viruses as “helper viruses” in the production of cancer.

“By the early 1970s, experimenters had transferred cancer-causing viruses into several species of monkeys,” Cantwell writes. “Herpesvirus saimiri, a monkey virus discovered in 1967 in the squirrel monkey, has a close genetic relationship with the new KS herpes virus. H. saimiri virus is harmless in the squirrel monkey, but when the virus was forced in the lab to ‘jump species’ into different animal species, such as the owl monkey, marmosets, and rabbits, it produces cancer in the form of fatal malignant lymphoma. By 1971 Dharam V. Ablahsi of the NCI succeeded in transferring H. saimiri into various cell lines of human origin. Cancer-causing cat and hamster viruses were also engineered into macaques and other monkey species.”

There’s lots more where that came from, though it’s pretty gruesome stuff to read, never mind to contemplate it actually happening. Here are some other “highlights” of the program’s work:

* The 1978 report from the Offices of Biohazard Safety of the CVP states: “The inadequate care and handling of animals during the past several years have created a potential for the occurrence of infection of humans with simian microorganisms and cross-infection between species. Such interspecies disease transmission may seriously compromise the integrity of the experiment as well as the health of the experimenter.” Really?

* “By the late 1970s the mixing of animal cancer viruses with human cells to produce new ‘xenotropic’ viruses was commonplace,” Cantwell writes. “The human cells in question were placenta cells from patients with immune disease and cells from leukemia. Xenotropic viruses are viruses taken from one species and transplanted into another species. All these experiments represent ‘species jumping’ performed in the laboratory.” (Shades of The Island of Dr. Moreau.)

* By 1977 the program was producing “approximately 60,000 liters [15,840 gallons] of tissue culture-grown viruses, propagated in over 40 different cell lines, and distributed in over 1,250 shipments to over 250 participating laboratories throughout the world.” (This recalls the US Centers for Disease Control’s “foreign exchange program” that shipped disease-causing bacteria and viruses to scores of countries, including Iraq in the 1980s.)

* A CVP report stated that: “Attempts are being made to chronically infect cell cultures of human epithelial and fibroblast cells and similar cell cultures from non-human primates (marmosets) with simian sarcoma virus, gibbon ape leukemia, and baboon endogenous virus.” Cantwell adds: “A few years later primates in the Africa bush would be blamed for starting AIDS and the KS epidemics.”

* The CVP was interested in acquiring “information and materials from carefully selected patients suffering from immunodeficiency diseases.” This is made clear in a progress report from the University of Minnesota entitled, “The search for tumor virus related information in human immunodeficiency patients with cancer.” The researchers proposed “continuation of studies linking immunodeficiency, cancer, and oncogenic viruses.”

* Citing an experiment from a 1973 report, Cantwell writes: “Newborn chimps were taken away from their mothers at birth and weaned on milk from cancer virus-infected cows. Some of the chimps sickened and died with two diseases that had never been observed in chimpanzees. The first was Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (later known as the “gay pneumonia” associated with AIDS); the second was leukemia, a cancer of the blood.”

* “By 1977,” Cantwell writes, “the year the experimental hepatitis-B vaccine was being made, scientists in the CVP aimed ‘to determine the oncogenic potential of putative human viruses’ and ‘to begin viral vaccine (conventional or other) testing and immunization programs.’ The exact methods by which this was to be accomplished was not stated.”

That’s not a smoking gun, it’s an arsenal of smokestacks.

From a scientifically informed layman’s perspective, here’s what sticks out from that litany of horrors: If the whole point of the program was to determine if viruses caused some human cancers, why, when no evidence of that emerged, did researchers nevertheless obsessively continue to seek ways to introduce exotic animal viruses into human cell lines, including some with immodeficiency disease? If it didn’t occur naturally, why make it occur unnaturally? What’s that all about?

“By 1980 the CVP came to an inglorious end with the inability to prove that viruses were involved in human cancer,” Cantwell concludes. “More than any other program it built up the field of animal retrovirology, which led to a more complete understanding of how cancer and immunosupressive retroviruses caused disease in humans. The CVP was the birthplace of genetic engineering, molecular biology, and the human genome project. I am convinced the CVP (and not Africa) is the birthplace of HIV/AIDS as well.”


Whither the AIDS conspiracy? The evidence seems way more than suggestive. Coincidently or not, the CVP’s work kicked into high gear in the years after DARPA’s Dr. MacArthur got his go-ahead to proceed with a research program into the prospects for designing synthetic bioagents for which humans would have no natural immunity. AIDS appeared suddenly less than a decade later—and strangely, more than two decades after that, despite billions of dollars of research, we still have no vaccine. So was there an operational relationship between the CVP and the US military’s ongoing biowar “research” program? As noted earlier, the CVP was folded into the Frederick Cancer Center at Fort Detrick, which continues to be the home of the US biowar establishment. Though the main CVP scientists were civilians, it’s hard to believe they had no interaction with their military counterparts, who included civilians under contract with the Army.

But the devil in any conspiracy theory is in the hard-to-swallow details. Easier to digest is the idea of an accident. (As noted above, this is what leading virologists Robert Gallo and Matilde Krim have acknowledged as a possibility.) Or more precisely, a number of distinct, widely separated accidents that achieved the same effect. This would involve both the hepatitis-B vaccine given to gay American men and the smallpox vaccine administered to Central Africans (both in the mid- to late-1970s) having been inadvertently contaminated with chimp SIV. Then in both cases the simian virus, which is mostly harmless to chimps, somehow mutated into HIV, which, if we are to accept the current paradigm, is far from harmless to its human hosts.

On second thought, maybe that’s not so easy to swallow. In fact, it’s much closer to the official story, in that it posits that HIV/AIDS was not bioengineered but was instead a mishandled product of nature. (A related scenario is that some of the frankenstein viruses concocted by CVP researchers and shipped around the world accidentally escaped into the environment, and then somehow initially infected only gay American men and Africans.)

So let’s return to the official story. The question then arises: What are the odds that an unprecedentedly deadly disease would “naturally” jump genus from ape to human at the precise moment—the precise decade—in history when man first gained the ability to play god and fiddle with his own genetic code? More specifically, at that exact moment when American (mad?) scientists were mixing exotic viral cocktails that infected immune-compromised human cell lines with simian and feline leukemia and a host of other cancers. (Note to cat-lovers: FIV, or feline immunodeficiency virus, made its first appearance in the 1980s, possibly due to the “inadequate care and handling” of infected lab animals, including cats, cited in the CVP documents above.) Whatever the odds, that remains the official story. A similar long-shot logic is entertained by those who assert that the earth “just happens” to be warming up by natural processes at the exact point in history when our species achieved the dubious ability to alter our planet’s temperature.


Now for the hard-to-swallow: Let us postulate what is almost unthinkable, at least for most of us. That is, that HIV/AIDS (leaving aside whether AIDS is actually caused by HIV or some other hidden co-factor, like mycoplasmas) was deliberately engineered in a lab and loosed upon the world for nefarious, eugenics-inspired Kissingerian purposes. One was to target a hated minority: homosexuals. The other was to put a dent in the so-called Third World’s burgeoning population, starting with the birthplace of humanity: Africa.

But a cognitive problem now arises, which can be summarized as TMEP: Too Many Evil People. Many people find it hard to believe that such a vast and history-altering conspiracy could occur without at least one confirmed insider having gone public by now. Common sense tells us that too many evil people (many of them doctors) would be necessary to carry out the AIDS plot, and that over the years somebody would have had a crisis of conscience and spilled his guts to a reporter. The average person (indeed, the majority of Americans) can buy a JFK assassination conspiracy because it’s simpler and could involve a limited number of plotters, and so would be easier to cover up. But the case for much wider and elaborate conspiracies like AIDS and 9-11 is, well, harder to swallow.

But these are subjective judgments about human nature, and don’t prove or disprove anything. We can only try to deal with the facts. It’s hard to believe that key CVP scientists like Gallo and Duesberg could have been knowing actors in an AIDS plot (though they may have had their suspicions later), but it’s not so difficult to conceive that their work could have been hijacked by those working on the Dark Side of Fort Detrick. Earlier installments in this series dealt with evidence of illegal US biological warfare against North Korea in the 1950s and broad-spectrum biowar attacks on Cuba from the 1960s onward, including the introduction of a virulent form of dengue fever that then spread through the Western Hemisphere. We also explored the possibility that US biowarriors may have had a hand in introducing Lyme disease and West Nile virus into their own country. Despite significant evidence dating back half a century, no whistle-blowers have emerged to confirm any of these “conspiracy theories.” This either means that there were no such plots (though the long-standing US biowar attacks on Cuba are a matter of historical record), or that US covert operators—with the assistance of a compliant media, intellegentsia, and government—are better at keeping secrets than we might think.

A similar situation pertains at the international level. Could the UN World Health Organization’s smallpox vaccine campaign have been infiltrated by US agents in order to induce an AIDS epidemic in Africa in the 1970s? Though the idea seems outlandish, US intelligence operatives have a long history of infiltrating and co-opting UN agencies and other international bodies. One example, examined in Part 4 of this series, involved the WHO being used as a cover to conduct a massive mosquito-release program in Sonepat, India, in 1975. Though the operation was aborted by bad publicity, it appears likely to have been part of a US biological warfare program designed to lay the groundwork for the subsequent introduction of mosquito-borne dengue fever into Cuba.


Oddly, for all the charges thrown around by AIDS conspiracists, hardly anyone seems to have pointed a finger at apartheid South Africa and suggested it may have played a role in propagating the pandemic. The deeply racist ruling Afrikaner elite certainly had an interest in killing as many black Africans as possible. (Remember their nuclear weapons program?) There was also a decades-long history of under-the-table intelligence cooperation between Washington and Pretoria. And it’s fairly certain that out of the 250 laboratories that received bioengineered interspecies viruses from the CVP in the 1970s, at least one was in South Africa.

The early 1980s, when the spread of AIDS in Africa first began to be noticed, was a time of particularly warm relations between the Reagan administration and the P.W. Botha regime. It was also a time when the black townships were in full revolt and the security forces responded with every criminal and terrorist tactic at their disposal, including an elaborate biological warfare program that targeted black activists with various diseases, toxins, and poisons.

If AIDS was indeed created in an American lab and introduced into Africa via vaccine programs, one would think the Afrikaner securocrats would have been thrilled to be junior partners in such a genocidal enterprise, particularly in their own backyard. While this is a completely speculative hypothesis, it’s interesting to note that although HIV/AIDS is supposed to have emerged in Africa’s equatorial rain forest belt, and hence that region should have the highest rate of infection, today South Africa’s AIDS epidemic is widely considered the worst on the continent. Almost one in five adults are infected with HIV and an estimated 1,000 deaths blamed on AIDS occur every day. Perhaps the ghost of the white regime is still reaching out from beyond the grave to strangle South Africa’s future. Many critics, however, blame this state of affairs on the ANC government’s embrace of Duesberg’s heretical theories and the shortage of antiretroviral drug treatments.

As the decades pass, the full truth about the origins of this post-modern plague continues to elude us. In the end, after looking at all the evidence, the hypothesis that AIDS is a man-made catastrophe—whether by horrible accident or genocidal design—remains almost too shattering to contemplate, and yet too compelling not to at least consider. So let’s end by considering some stark, simple numbers.

According to UN figures, as many as 25 million people have died worldwide from AIDS since 1981, with nearly three million deaths in 2006. There are an estimated one million people living with HIV in the US and roughly half a million Americans are thought to have died of AIDS. Over 42 million people are living with HIV/AIDS around the world, and 74% of those infected are in sub-Saharan Africa. Young people under 25 now account for over half of all new HIV infections, around 6,000 every day. There are currently 14 million AIDS orphans, most of them African, and by 2010 there will be 25 million…

And we thought 9-11 was bad.



“The Secret Origin of AIDS in America,” by Alan Cantwell, Paranoia Magazine, 2005

“Is HIV Guilty?” Miami Herald, Dec. 23, 1990, online at

“Was There an AIDS Contract?” by Michael Morrissey

“My Beef With Chomsky” by Michael Morrissey

“WHO Murdered Africa” by Dr. William C. Douglas

QuackeryWatch on Dr. Leonard Horowitz

“National Security Study Memorandum 200:
Implications of Worldwide Population Growth for US Security and Overseas Interests,” April 1974

See also:

Biopreparat: Biowar on Steroids, Soviet-Style
WW4 REPORT #125, September 2006


Special to WORLD WAR 4 REPORT, April 1, 2007
Reprinting permissible with attribution

Continue ReadingBIONOIA, Part 6 

Issue #. 132. April 2007

Electronic Journal & Daily Weblog YEMEN: ON THE BRINK OF SECTARIAN WAR Shi’ite Insurgency in Washington’s Strategic Red Sea Ally by Mohamed Al-Azaki, WW4 REPORT SOMALIA: THE NEW RESISTANCE Successor Factions to the Islamic Courts Union by Osman Yusuf, WW4… Read moreIssue #. 132. April 2007


from Weekly News Update on the Americas:

Guatemala: Three Salvadoran Reps Murdered; Accused Killers Follow Them to Grave

Three Salvadoran legislative deputies to the Central American Parliament (PARLACEN) were murdered along with their driver on the afternoon of Feb. 19 as they were visiting Guatemala to attend a session of the parliament. Assailants followed them in vehicles to a place about 36 km from Guatemala City, killed them and set their van on fire—although there was evidence that some of the victims may have been alive when the fire was set.

The deputies were Eduardo D’Aubuisson, William Pichinte and Jose Ramon Gonzalez; the driver was Gerardo Ramirez. All three deputies were from the rightwing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) of Salvadoran president Elias Antonio Saca; D’Aubuisson’s father, the late Roberto D’Aubuisson, founded ARENA and reportedly led the notorious death squads of the 1980s.

Four agents from the Criminal Investigation Division (DINC) of the National Civilian Police (PNC)—Luis Arturo Herrera Lopez, head of the Section Against Organized Crime, and agents Jose Adolfo Gutierrez, Marvin Langen Escobar Mendez and Jose Korki Lopez Arreaga—were arrested on Feb. 21 and Feb. 22 and charged with the murders. According to the Guatemalan government, the agents had followed the Salvadorans in a patrol car with global positioning equipment, which allowed investigators to place the agents at the crime scene.

The four police agents reportedly confessed to executing the Salvadorans but claimed they thought the victims were Colombian narco-traffickers. The agents refused to say who had told them to carry out the executions. Their lawyers, Sandra Aguilar and Amanda Salazar Rodriguez, charged that the agents were beaten and tortured after their arrests. The agents were placed in the El Boqueron maximum security prison in Cuilapa, Santa Rosa department. On Feb. 23 Salazar filed an appeal asking for her clients to be placed in a more secure unit on the grounds that they feared for their lives.

The four agents were found dead in El Boqueron on Feb. 25; a prison guard was also killed. According to Governance Minister Carlos Vielman, who is in charge of national security, a group of prisoners rioted, took the warden and four guards hostage, and cut the throats of the four agents with knives. According to the authorities, the 177 prisoners who rioted were members of the notorious Mara Salvatrucha gang. The authorities suggested that the killers were prisoners who had been arrested by these agents in the past. Some 300 polices and soldiers with anti-riot equipment regained control of the prison.

Some of the prisoners and family members visiting the prison gave a different version. According to them, a group of masked armed men entered the prison without opposition, cut the electricity and executed the agents. The other prisoners then took the warden and guards hostage because they feared that they too would be executed or would be blamed for the murders. The daily Siglo Veintiuno obtained a report from the Public Ministry that seemed to back the prisoners’ version. The killers had altered the scene to make it appear that they had had to force the lock, according to the report, which found no evidence of a struggle at the scene. The report said the agents were killed by gunfire; there was no mention of knives. Four eyewitnesses were willing to testify if they were guaranteed protection, according to the report.

On March 2 Governance Minister Vielman announced that police operations assistant director Javier Figueroa had resigned on Feb. 26 and that Victor Soto had been removed from his post as chief of DINC, the division to which the agents belonged. On Feb. 27 the Guatemalan Congress had passed a resolution calling for Vielman himself to resign, but Vielman said he would keep his position. (Guatemala Hoy, Feb. 21, 22, 23, 26, 28, March 3; Adital, March 26 from Grupo de Apoyo Mutuo, March 1)

The Mutual Support Group (GAM), a Guatemalan human rights organization, charged that the murders of the agents were “a demonstration of the degree to which organized crime and drug trafficking have penetrated the structures of Guatemalan state agencies, particularly in the national security forces.” Others noted that 43 complaints were filed against the DINC in 2006, including three for extrajudicial execution and 10 for forced disappearances. The GAM called the “indifference of the international community” to criminality in the Guatemalan government “worrying.” (GH, Feb. 23; Adital, Feb. 26 from GAM)

Weekly News Update on the Americas, March 4, 2007

PNC agent Marvin Roberto Contreras Natareno testified on March 16 for the first time since his arrest in connection with the murder of the Salvadoran deputies. In his three-hour testimony Contreras Natareno told Judge Nery Medina that he had been called in as backup after four police agents stopped the deputies’ vehicle. According to Contreras Natareno, the deputies and their driver were still alive when he arrived, and the police agents were searching the vehicle for drugs. Later the agents shot some or all of the deputies and set the car on fire with the deputies inside. As of March 16 the Public Ministry had not decided whether to charge Contreras Natareno with murder or treat him as a witness. (Diario Colatino, San Salvador, March 16; Miami Herald, March 16 from AP; La Prensa Grafica, San Salvador, March 16)

In an interview published on March 10, PNC director Erwin Sperisen told the Guatemalan daily Prensa Libre that “Guatemalan drug traffickers” were behind the murder, but he refused to give details. (El Nuevo Herald, Miami, March 11 from EFE) Salvadoran officials have said that the three lawmakers were not linked to organized crime. (MH, March 16 from AP) In Guatemala the case has led to the resignations of DINC director Victor Soto and assistant director Javier Figueroa; Figueroa fled to Costa Rica on March 4. (La Prensa Grafica, San Salvador, March 16)

Guatemalan authorities still maintain other prisoners were responsible for the execution-style killings of the four DINC agents. According to Mario Falla, head of the attorney general’s technical bureau, four pistols were found in electrical appliances that the prisoners had in their possession; three of the pistols were used in the killing of the agents, Falla says. Some prisoners said the weapons were in fact planted in the appliances, which had been in the hands of the authorities for several days. (La Nacion, Costa Rica, March 15 from AFP)

Weekly News Update on the Americas, March 18, 2007

Guatemala: Student Leader Murdered, Peasants Block Highways

On the night of March 9, unidentified assailants shot to death Guatemalan student leader Oscar Abelardo Chata as he was walking to his home in Peten. He was in his fourth year of teachers’ college. Chata’s killing is believed to be political, since none of his belongings were stolen. The Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity-Broad Movement of the Left (URNG-MAIZ) condemned the killing, noting that it was one in a string of recent attacks against leftist activists. (Guatemala Hoy, March 17)

The Movement of Human Rights has recorded 278 attacks in the past three years against community leaders, human rights and union activists, designed to intimidate them into discontinuing their work. Many of the attacks and threats have come from public security forces. (La Semana en Guatemala, March 14-19)

On March 15, members of the Committee of Campesino Unity (CUC) and the National Coordinating Committee of Campesino Organizations (CNOC) blocked several highways in Huehuetenango, Izabal, Zacapa and Chiquimula to demand justice for murdered community members. CUC leader Jose Domingo said the protest commemorated the second anniversary of the killing of CUC member Juan Lopez Velasquez by soldiers and police during protests against the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA) in Colotenango. Some 500 campesinos from Izabal, Zacapa and Chiquimula held a similar demonstration to demand a prompt and thorough investigation into the murder last Feb. 6 of community leader Israel Carias Ortiz and his two sons, nine and 10 years old, in Los Achiotes, Zacapa. (La Semana en Guatemala, March 14-19)

Weekly News Update on the Americas, March 25, 2007

Zacapa: Campesino Leader Murdered

On Feb. 6 in the Guatemalan municipality of Zacapa, unidentified assailants shot to death campesino leader Israel Carias Ortiz and his two sons, nine-year old Ledwin Anilson Carias Ramirez and 10-year-old Ronald Haroldo Carias Ramirez. The family was ambushed on a rural road while heading home to the Los Achiotes farm. According to Radio Sonora, Nelly Ortiz, the campesino leader’s mother, died of shock upon hearing the news. Carias Ortiz was a leader of the Los Achiotes Indigenous Campesino Development Association (ACIDEA), a group of 150 families fighting to recover their lands on the Los Achiotes farm in Zacapa, which is currently occupied illegally by large-scale landholders. The Committee of Campesino Unity (CUC) blamed the murders on landholders Geraldina Cordon, Faustina Barrillas, Jorge Madrid, Victor Hugo Salguero, Edwin Ruiz, Salvador Cabrera and others. According to CUC, these landholders have been threatening local campesino leaders, including Carias and his family, and regional CUC leader Abelardo Roldan. (AP, Feb. 7; CUC communique, Feb. 6)

Weekly News Update on the Americas, Feb. 11, 2007

Costa Rica: 50,000 Protest Free Trade

Some 50,000 people took to the streets of San Jose, Costa Rica, on Feb. 26 to demand that the country’s Legislative Assembly not ratify the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA), a US-sponsored trade pact referred to in Central America by the Spanish initials for free trade treaty, TLC. The demonstration, dubbed “A Day for the Homeland” and organized by the National Front to Support the Struggle Against the TLC, was the largest one yet in Central America against the trade pact, and one of the largest protests ever in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica signed DR-CAFTA last year but is the only participating nation which has not yet ratified the pact. The Legislative Assembly had planned to debate the TLC on Feb. 26. President Oscar Arias, who has been pushing heavily for DR-CAFTA’s approval, claimed his supporters have the 38 votes they need to ratify the pact. But in the end the Legislative Assembly was unable to debate the treaty on Feb. 26 because it lacked a quorum. (Red de Comunicacion Alternativa contra el TLC, Feb. 26; El Comerico, Peru, Feb. 27 from DPA; Inter Press Service, Feb. 26)

Ricardo Segura of the National Committee of Struggle Against the TLC said simultaneous demonstrations were also held in San Carlos and Palmares de Alajuela in Guanacaste province, in Coto Brus in the south of the country, and in Limon on the Atlantic coast, among other areas. Carlos Arguedas, leader of the Union of Agricultural and Plantation Workers (SITRAP), said riot police violently attacked more than 600 demonstrators who blocked Route 32 in Siquirres, Limon province. The agents destroyed banners and signs and confiscated a loudspeaker vehicle, detaining its driver. At least five people were arrested, and a group of at least 80 demonstrators encircled the Siquirres jail to demand their release. (Red de Comunicacion Alternativa contra el TLC, Feb. 26; Argenpress, March 4)

Leaders of the Union of National University Workers (SITUN) and the Union Association of Industrial Communication and Energy Workers (ASDEICE) said separately that police stopped and searched several buses taking workers to the demonstration in San Jose, and a number of protesters had to continue on foot. (Red de Comunicacion Alternativa contra el TLC, Feb. 26)

Weekly News Update on the Americas, March 4, 2007

El Salvador: Students Block Streets

In El Salvador, 27 people—most of them students of the University of San Salvador—were arrested on Feb. 28 for “public disorder” after blocking traffic on Constitucion Boulevard in the northern sector of San Salvador during a protest against DR-CAFTA. The protest marked the close of the country’s first year under DR-CAFTA; El Salvador was the first nation to implement the pact, on Mar. 1, 2006. (El Vocero de Michigan, March 2 from AFP)


Weekly News Update on the Americas

See also:

WW4 REPORT #130, February 2007

From our weblog:

Guatemala: Maya priests to purify sacred site after Bush visit
WW4 REPORT, March 13, 2007


Reprinted by WORLD WAR 4 REPORT, April 1, 2007
Reprinting permissible with attribution



from Weekly News Update on the Americas:

On March 24, two separate but nearly simultaneous marches were held in Buenos Aires to mark the anniversary of Argentina’s 1976 coup and remember the 30,000 people who were disappeared by the military regime.

The first march—attended by 10,000 people, according to the Buenos Aires daily Clarin—was called by organizations allied with or supportive of the government of President Nestor Kirchner, including the Grandmothers and Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo-Founding Line, the Permanent Assembly for Human Rights, the Good Memory Association, Relatives and Siblings of the Disappeared, and the Historical Memory Foundation. The second march was organized by the Memory, Truth and Justice Encounter, a coalition of 185 human rights, community, media and cultural groups not aligned with the government, including the HIJOS group of children of the disappeared and the Association of Former Detained-Disappeared. Both marches ended at the Plaza de Mayo, the second one arriving just after the first rally ended. According to the Buenos Aires daily Cronica, the two marches together drew about 100,000 people.

In addition to marking the coup anniversary, the marchers were commemorating the 30th anniversary of the murder of journalist Rodolfo Walsh, who authored an open letter to the military regime on March 24, 1977, the first anniversary of the coup, and was disappeared hours later. Both marches also coincided in demanding the reappearance—alive—of human rights activist Jorge Julio Lopez, who disappeared last September after testifying against former military officer Miguel Etchecolatz in a trial over dirty war human rights abuses. (Prensa Latina, March 24; Documento del 24 de marzo Memoria, Verdad y Justicia, March 24, posted on Argentina Indymedia; Clarin, March 25; Cronica, March 24; La Jornada, Mexico, March 25)

President Nestor Kirchner headed a separate commemoration earlier on March 24 at the former clandestine detention center of La Perla, in Cordoba province, where an estimated 2,000 political prisoners were held during the dictatorship. (PL, March 24; LJ, March 25)

In Jujuy, protesters held an “escrache”—a noisy human rights protest—at a police station where a detention center operated during the dictatorship. (Clarin, March 25) Protests were also held in Rosario, Salta, La Pampa, Chaco, Santiago del Estero and Entre Rios. (LJ, March 25)

Another protest was scheduled for March 25 at the former detention center of Campo de Mayo, in front of a building where pregnant political detainees gave birth; the regime routinely disappeared the mothers, and illegally gave the infants into adoption with falsified birth papers. (Clarin, March 25)

Santa Fe: Police Attack Water Protest

On the morning of March 22, World Water Day, activists from the Coordinating Committee of Neighborhood Unity-Teresa Rodriguez Movement (CUBa-MTR) in Rosario, Santa Fe province, held a demonstration protesting the government’s failure to provide running water to the city’s Santa Clara neighborhood. Provincial police attacked the protesters, firing metal bullets into the air and rubber bullets into the crowd. Dozens of people were wounded, and nine people—five women and four men—were arrested. An eight-year-old boy was among those hit by rubber bullets. Agents also used clubs to beat demonstrators, including children and pregnant women.

The protesters regrouped at the police station to demand the release of those arrested. The nine detainees were freed around 6:30 PM but were ordered to appear in court the next day. In a communique, the CUBa-MTR blamed the Santa Fe provincial government for the violence, and warned that its members would not be intimidated. (CUBa-MTR Communique, March 22)

Weekly News Update on the Americas, March 25, 2007


Weekly News Update on the Americas

See also:

WW4 REPORT #130, February 2007

From our weblog:

South America protests Bush
WW4 REPORT, March 13, 2007


Reprinted by WORLD WAR 4 REPORT, April 1, 2007
Reprinting permissible with attribution



Israel and its Allies Instrument Social Disaster

by Jennifer Bing-Canar and Adam Horowitz, Peacework

2006 marked yet another difficult year for residents of the Gaza Strip. In the words of John Ging, the Gaza-based director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the Palestinians are “effectively living in one big prison.” Despite hopes that the Israeli withdrawal of its settlements in the Gaza Strip in 2005 might make life better for Gazans, 1.4 million Palestinians continue to live in devastated, poverty-stricken communities on a strip of land 25 by 6 miles long.

Palestinians in Gaza continue to be subjected to Israeli air assaults, military raids, arrests, and house demolitions. As of July 5, 2006, 840 homemade Palestinian rockets had been fired towards Israel from within Gaza that year. During the same period, the Israeli military fired 8,300 shells and rockets into Gaza, nearly ten times the number of Palestinian rockets. These attacks have resulted in eight Israeli and over four hundred Palestinian deaths. One Gaza journalist and father of two, Nidal al-Mughrabi, wrote in a personal account for Reuters this January, “It is not often safe to take your family out of the house. It’s your fortress, and your prison, much like Gaza itself.”

The humanitarian crisis in Gaza is heightened due to the fact that Gaza is almost completely sealed off from the rest of the occupied Palestinian territories and neighboring Egypt. Ironically, this process began in the heyday of the Oslo peace process when Israel began building a “security barrier” surrounding Gaza. Although different from the current Separation Wall in the West Bank in that it conformed to Gaza’s internationally recognized border, this barrier served a similar role in extending strict Israeli control over Palestinian freedom of movement. The 30-mile-long barrier contains three crossing points for Palestinians to exit and enter Gaza: Erez Crossing (from northern Gaza to Israel), the Rafah Crossing (from southern Gaza to Egypt), and the Karni Crossing, which is used mainly for cargo. Control over these crossings gives Israel control over daily life in Gaza, including over Gaza’s economy. Thus, Gaza remains under effective Israeli occupation nearly a year and a half after the unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza settlements.

Israeli control over these crossings has resulted in almost complete closure since the beginning of the Israeli military’s “Summer Rain” offensive in Gaza in June 2006. During 2006 alone, unemployment in Gaza rose from 33.1% to 41.8% due to decreases in economic activity and humanitarian aid (this is compared to less than 12% in 1999). According to the Gisha Center for the Legal Protection of Freedom of Movement, an Israeli human rights group: “Imposing a strict curfew on the movement of people and goods in and out of the Gaza Strip and halting funding for public services have contributed to an economic and humanitarian crisis in the Strip of a severity unknown in the 38 [sic] years of occupation.”

By the end of 2006, 89% of the population was living on less than $2 a day. Over 860,000 Gazans are living on food parcels distributed by the UN. The World Bank has characterized the situation facing Palestinians as the worst economic depression in modern history.

The people of Gaza have not only been physically sealed off from their surroundings—Gaza has also been diplomatically and politically isolated. The United States and the European Union have led a campaign of sanctions against the Palestinian people following the January 2006 Palestinian legislative council elections, which resulted in a Hamas party victory. The international community responded to the election by cutting off economic and humanitarian aid, and by supporting Israel as it refused to transfer tax revenue it had agreed to collect for the Palestinian Authority as part of the Oslo accords. As a result of these policies, over 100,000 Palestinian public employees have not received salaries in nearly a year. The economic embargo is interpreted by many as a form of collective punishment of a Palestinian populace for exercising its democratic rights.

In the United States this policy took the form of the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006. This draconian legislation labels the Palestinian Authority a “terrorist sanctuary” (which carries penalties for international private sector cooperation), effectively bans US aid to the West Bank and Gaza while Hamas holds the majority of the Palestinian legislative council, and encourages the US to use its influence to block international financial institutions from aiding the PA. Although there are some exemptions to the legislation, including assistance to meet human needs, democracy promotion, and “assistance in the national security interest of the United States,” the legislation has been used thus far to complement the US strategy of regime change within the Palestinian Authority. Although poverty rates among Palestinians are jumping to alarming levels, the only US aid that has been proposed to this point is a promised $86.4 million to bolster Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ security services in anticipation of an armed confrontation with forces loyal to Hamas. The US government hopes that a policy of economic deprivation, combined with the power of a US-backed proxy military force, will lead to a regime change in the Palestinian government acceptable to the US and Israel.

Thus, Israeli closure policies, international sanctions, and US maneuvering to topple the democratically elected Hamas-led legislature have together led to a devastating situation for civilians. By April 2006 79% of households in Gaza were living under the poverty line (compared to less than 30% in 2000). This outcome appears consistent with the goals Dov Weisglass, an adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert explained soon after the Hamas election victory. He joked of the sanctions, “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.”

One result of US policies forcibly promoting regime change is a marked increase in factional violence. In the first month of 2007, over two dozen Palestinians were killed in factional violence, adding to the 300 killed in internecine fighting in 2006. The escalation in fighting followed the failed efforts to form a unity government between Hamas and Fatah, and Mahmoud Abbas’s call for new elections—although it is reported that even Pentagon officials have acknowledged that US policy has served as a catalyst for the violence.

Several voices, including some from within Israel, have warned of the consequences of an effort to topple Hamas’ leadership of the Palestinian Authority. Senior Israeli intelligence officials have warned that Fatah is disintegrating and would not win even if new elections were held. Civil war would be a disaster for Palestinians, and would also clearly set back any opportunities to resume negotiations for peace with Israel. Henry Siegman and Robert Malley wrote at the end of 2006: “The most fundamental miscalculation of all is the notion that there can be a peace process with a Palestinian government that excludes Hamas. Hamas is not an ephemeral phenomenon that can be extinguished by force of arms. It is as permanent a feature of the Palestinian political landscape as Fatah, which means that no enduring change in relations between Israelis and Palestinians—and certainly no end to violence, or beginning of a political process, let alone meaningful Israeli withdrawals from the West Bank—can occur over its opposition.”

Despite the growing hardship and desperation of life in Gaza, inspiring examples of nonviolent civil resistance continue. In addition to the daily steadfastness to survive under worsening conditions, there have also been several instances of unarmed Palestinian civilians offering protection for houses marked for demolition by the Israeli military. In one example, hundreds of residents of the Jabaliya refugee camp protected a house marked for demolition for several days until Israel called off the demolition order. The attack would have created widespread destruction in the incredibly densely populated camp. Women in Beit Lahiya also protested factional violence by taking to the streets chanting, “Spare the bullets, shame, shame” after a Hamas official was killed by Fatah gunners. Such actions have served as an example which many in Gaza are calling for people to emulate in hopes that Palestinians can prevent Israeli military attacks and end the recent deadly internal strife, through nonviolent means.

It is essential that we in the US work to change our government’s foreign policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. One important upcoming opportunity to stand for justice in Palestine and Israel will be June 10-11, 2007, when the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, United for Peace and Justice, and hundreds of other organizations will converge in Washington, DC to protest US support for 40 years of Israel’s illegal military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. The weekend’s events will include a rally, teach-in, and lobby day and will be part of a global week of action entitled “The World Says No to Israeli Occupation.”

Jennifer Bing-Canar and Adam Horowitz work in the National Middle East Peacebuilding Unit of the American Friends Service Committee. For more information about their work visit

This story originally appeared in the February issue of Peacework,
American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Cambridge, MA


“Working in the Gaza Strip is like…”
by Nidal al-Mughrabi, Reuters, Jan. 4, 2007[…]9 131

Gisha: Center for the Legal Protection of Freedom of Movement

US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

See also:

This Is What Democracy Looks Like!
by Nirit Ben-Ari
WW4 REPORT #121, May 2006

From our weblog:

UN rights rapporteur on Palestine: Yes, it’s apartheid
WW4 REPORT, March 23, 2007


Reprinted by WORLD WAR 4 REPORT, April 1, 2007
Reprinting permissible with attribution