“CIA Link to Cuban Pig Virus Reported,”
reprinted from Newsday in San Francisco Chronicle, Jan. 10, 1977.
January 10, 1977 Front page
CIA Link to Cuban
Pig Virus Reported
at least the tacit backing of U.S. Central Intelligence Agency officials,
operatives linked to anti-Castro terrorists introduced African swine fever
Six weeks later an outbreak of the disease forced the slaughter of 500,000 pigs to prevent a nationwide animal epidemic.
A U.S. intelligence source told Newsday last week he was given the virus in a sealed, unmarked container at a U.S. Army base and CIA training ground in the Panama Canal Zone, with instructions to turn it over to the anti-Castro group.
The 1971 outbreak, the first and only time the disease has hit the
All production of pork, a Cuban staple, halted, apparently for several months.
A CIA spokesman, Dennis Berend, in response to a Newsday request for comment, said, "We don't comment on information from unnamed and, at best, obscure sources."
Why the virus turned up in
However, on the basis of numerous interviews over four months with U.S. intelligence sources, Cuban exiles and scientists concerning the outbreak — which occurred two years after then-President Nixon had banned the use of offensive chemical and biological warfare — Newsday was able to piece together this account of events leading up to the outbreak.
The source said he was given instructions to turn the container with the virus over to members of an anti-Castro group.
The container then was given to a person in the
Another man involved in the operation, a Cuban exile who asked not to be identified, said he was on the trawler when the virus was put aboard at a rendezvous point off
The source on the trawler, who had been trained by the CIA and had carried out previous missions for the agency, said he saw no CIA officials aboard the boat that delivered the virus to the trawler off Panama, but added: "We were well paid for this and Cuban exile groups don't have that kind of money . . ."
He said he was revealing the information because he is a member of an exile group being investigated by the United States in connection with terrorist activity in Florida. His account was confirmed by another intelligence source in
The investigation referred to by the operative on the trawler involves a federal inquiry into terrorist acts allegedly carried out by Cuban exiles. Those include bombings and assassination attempts in the