SUMMARY OF CUBA's BIOTECHNOLOGY CAPACITY
By Manuel Cereijo
Castro allowed the Soviet Union in 1962 to install atomic warhead missiles in Cuba. Once discovered, he tried to force the Soviet Union to launch a surprising missile attack against the United States. This is a fact.
Cuba has been classified by the United States government, for the last several years , as a terrorist nation. This is a fact.
With these premises, let us analyze what facilities and infrastructure Cuba has that could be used in bio terrorist activities.
CUBA'S BIOTECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT
Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology
· The most important institution in Cuba's biotechnology industry is the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, CIGB. It was established in La Habana, in 1986. Located west of La Habana. 31 Ave, between 158 and 190 Streets, Cubanacan.Cost: $150 million dollars.
· It has a total area of 60,000 square meters. The Center has state-of-the-art equipment, second only to the United States in the Americas. At the center work outstanding scientists and engineers dedicated to genetic research, virology, cloning, vaccines development.
· The main CIGB buildings cover an area of 43,200 square meters and contain specialized labs for both general purposes and dedicated research. The CIGB has a biotherium, barrier zones or white rooms, which allow research with sensitive and lethal agents.
· The CIGB's modern andefficient technological equipment includes mass spectrometers, infraredand ultraviolet, electron and scanning microscopes, gamma counters, DNA synthesizers. Also, and very important, downstream fermenters, drying and milling machines, centrifuges, which can, therefore guarantee research and development of bioweapons, such as bacteria and virus agents.
· In the CIGB work more than 700 highly skilled researchers, scientists, and engineers. Russians scientists cooperated with the CIGB several times, including, according to certain intelligence sources, assisting in the development of altered strains of bacteria. Capacity to produce bioweapons
· The National Bio-preparations center, Biocen, located in Bejucal, south of Habana province, at Carretera de Beltran km 1 1/2 is engaged in industrial scale production of human vaccines. It was built in 1992 at a cost of $15 million dollars
· Biocen's culture media plant has an annual 40 tons. capacity. It is equipped to carry out homogenization, hydrolisis, dehydration, milling, sifting, filtration, and several other processess required not only for the biotech and pharmaceutical industries, but for bacteria and virus weaponization.
· A new department that manufactures recombinant products went into operation in 1993. New cost: $7 million dollars. The complex also includes a plant producing immunological reagents and two vivaria labs.
· Innovative techniques have been developed at Biocen for obtaining culture media, substituting the traditional expensive nutritive bases, like meat, casein. They have developed 14 alternative protein sources. There is the capacity here to produce bioweapons
The Finlay Institute
· The Carlos J. Finlay Medical Research Institute is located in Ave. 27, No. 19805, La Lisa, Habana. Modernized in 1994 at a cost of $10 million dollars
· The Institute occupies an area of 23,000 square meters, divided into three areas: fermentation, purification, and "clean rooms". Over 950 persons work at the Institute. Of these, 70% are engineers and scientists.
· The Institute has done extensive work in the research and development of new vaccines. Among them, vaccines against Leptospirosis, Hepatitis, Cholera, and Meningitis. The Plant III area is well prepared for the production of the most sophisticated biomaterials. It is highly secured.
· The main areas of research and production of the Institute are related to bacteria and viruses. Commercially, it has worked on research and production of vaccines.
Capacity to produce bioweapons
The Institute of Tropical Medicine Pedro Khoury
· The Institute was founded in 1937 by Dr. Flori, a very well known Cuban scientist. The center's research area is in microbiology. The Institute has the necessary state-of the-art equipment for research and development related to tropical bacteria and viruses. Modernized and relocated in 1992 at a cost of $12 million dollars
· The Institute has also conducted extensive research on yellow fever. Yellow fever is a viral disease that has caused large epidemics in the world. Infection causes a wide spectrum of disease, from mild symptoms to severe illness and death..
· There are other tropicaldisease that could be used as bioweapons, such as: malaria,dracunculiasis, filariasis, leishmaniasis, dengue, dengue hemorrhagic fever.
Capacity to produce bioweapons.
· The Center for Molecular Immunology is a 15,000 square meter, two floor facility. Over 250 employees work at the Center, of which, 200 are scientists and engineers. It was built in 1994 at a cost of $10 million dollars. The ground floor includes development, pharmacology, and toxicology. The auxiliary technical services, and, secret research and development are on the second floor.
· Their main research activities are on antibodies-hybridoma, molecular biology, celular immunology. CIM has laboratories equipped for cell culture, immunochemistry, and radiochemistry. Their work on the immune system is related to the development of stronger strains of virus an bacteria. The Center has the capacity to produce bio-weapons
· Cuba's biotechnological capacity places it in group four of the World Health Organization's five categories. To reach group five,which is formed only by the eight top industrial economies, Cuba must produce at least 20% of the 260 basic materials. It regularly produces 18% of these and certainly has the scientific ability to produce the others with biotech methods.
· Cuba also has 160 distinct research and development units and over 10,000 researchers through out the country
· According to Cuba's own figures, as well as those provided by scientists and engineers, both from Cuba and other countries, the Cuban government has spent approximately $3,500 million dollars in this industry since 1986. The return of such investment has been approximately the sales of $200 million dollars in vaccines and medicines. The production for domestic use has been almost nothing, since the Cuban people lack the most basic medicines.