Culture and Life
by Rob Gowland
A slight case of overkill
Have you noticed how everything these days is so much bigger than used to be considered necessary? Especially numerically: action films used to have an explosion as the climax — now there's one every few minutes. A thriller could get by and even be considered artistic with only three or four or maybe five people killed; now nobody blinks when the body count goes into triple figures. Even politics are affected by this blight: look at the multitude — and magnitude — of the US Government's lies about Yugoslavia. When Robert Menzies wanted to run a Red scare election campaign he used a solitary Russian agent, Vladimir Petrov. When certain quarters wanted to do the same thing nine days before the presidential elections in Venezuela last month they told the media that Cuba had planted no less than 1500 agents in Venezuela to "indoctrinate" the civilian population and members of the military. Fidel Castro didn't know whether to be flattered or disgusted. As he told journalists, the CIA must be very jealous: for all their tens of billions of dollars they could never muster 1500 agents in one country. Castro quickly identified the source of this gargantuan piece of anti- communist nonsense: Miami's hysterically anti-communist Cuban-American mafia, still smarting from the way their kidnapping of six-year-old Elian backfired on them. US citizens overwhelmingly supported the child's return to Cuba and the emigres' political clout was considerably weakened by the affaire. So, to get back at the Castro Government and probably to ingratiate themselves with their CIA handlers — who, after all, control the purse strings for these drug-running terrorists — the Miami emigres discovered Cuban agents in Venezuela. As stories go, it wasn't new: a variation of it had been tried with some success in Grenada during Reagan's unfortunate tenure in the White House. The Cuban Government knew that one aim of the "revelation" was to blacken Cuba's name in the USA media once again and to provide a new pretext for maintaining trade sanctions. It was also a crude attempt to interfere in Venezuela's internal affairs. But why choose so incredible a number as 1500 agents? Could anyone believe such an absurdity? Apparently, the CIA's tame Cubans have fallen for the "make it bigger — much bigger" — syndrome afflicting the movies. It is alleged that the figure was provided by a defecting Cuban agent, one Juan Alvaro Rosabal Gonzalez. He is certainly a Cuban — but a most unlikely agent. Fidel Castro provided reporters with details of Gonzalez's age, place of birth, education (school dropout), employment (never known to have held down a job) and criminal record (arrested in 1992 for theft and cattle rustling). Castro noted that in 1997, a Venezuelan citizen invited Gonzalez to travel to Venezuela, which Gonzalez did. Castro also noted that Gonzalez's attorney, Ricardo Koesling, has close ties to Miami's ultra-right wing Cuban-American National Foundation. If there are any agents they would seem to be among those who invited Gonzalez to Venezuela in the first place. Koesling is now saying that there are another five defectors from what Castro derisively calls "the phantom army of Cuban intelligence officials". The Cuban President, presumably after he stopped laughing, told the press that if the attorney is trying to make money with this story, Cuba will pay him one million dollars if can prove the existence in Venezuela of just one of the alleged 1500 Cuban agents.
* * *Capitalism spurns international health appeals Although the number of really rich people grows exponentially, and capitalist governments squander money on handouts to large corporations whenever they suffer a dip in their profits ("corporate welfare" as it has been called), the World Health Organisation is struggling to raise money for genuine national disasters. A WHO release issued on July 26, says that "of 21 appeals to international donors to support life-saving programs for peoples hit by war, population displacement and natural disaster", five produced "a resounding zero response so far this year". Another four appeals achieved less than ten percent of the money needed to restore "any semblance of basic health care". The WHO has been offered no cash for its emergency health programs in Burundi, the Republic of Congo, Uganda, Sudan and the Indonesian islands of Maluku, despite the fact that the wars and civil conflicts that ravaged them were fostered, promoted or prolonged by the machinations of wealthy Western powers. The appeal for Afghanistan has also garnered less than one percent of the US$2.8 million which WHO believes is "crucial to reverse the inexorable decline of the population's health". Which is ironic, if you consider that the US is primarily responsible for the social and material devastation in the country. It was the US that launched a war there to stop the Communists from developing the country, and succeeded in turning it into a hell on earth. The US is also behind the intervention by its proxies Uganda and Rwanda in the Democratic Republic of Congo, again to thwart a revolutionary government from achieving any betterment of the people's position. Not surprisingly, WHO's appeal for the D R Congo has received less than ten percent of the money it sought. The US probably spent more on subversion than WHO raised. Significantly, only two appeals — for North Caucasus and Angola — "have passed the 50 percent mark". Both are areas where imperialist powers are trying to secure influence and domination. Both are rich in resources: oil and minerals in the North Caucasus, oil and diamonds in Angola. But even then, they only get half the money that's needed. Good old, big hearted capitalism.