Ciencia y Sociedad

Friday, May 15, 2009


( This note is dedicated to mexican ornithologists like Carlos Juárez López, who still beleive in the words PATRIOTISM and ETHICS...)

As soon as it was discovered in 1943 in the Caribbean Island of Trinidad, "across the street" from Venezuela, this nation equine virus –or VEE, short for Venezuelan equine encephalitis- caught the eye of the US military; their "Biowar Program" had just been installed and this virus offered good potentialities as a bioweapon.



Eventually, three decades later, this would explain the thousands of gallons of the "weaponized" virus in US Army arsenals that not even with a President´s Nixon mandate the CIA destroyed…

Too bad for horses, mules and donkeys but how does the VEE virus manifests itself in humans? Considered technically a "zoonoses" –infecting both humans and animals- it produces sudden, very severe flu-like symptoms, muscle and headaches, plus high fever for 3 to 10 days; in children, furthermore, there may be somnolence, disorientation, convulsions, paralysis, coma and death…or neurological disorder sequels, -nice bioweapon, isn´t it?- The arbovirus producing the disease is transmitted by mosquitoes or arthropods, involving also wild animals and birds in the cycle. Known previously only in the Venezuela-Colombia region, the VEE virus was surprisingly recovered in Veracruz, México in 1964, and it´s translocation attributed "perhaps to migrating birds" ( 1 ).


This event sparked a chain of studies on VEE in both Mexican Pacific coast near San Blas, Nayarit and Gulf coast near Tlacotalpan/Lake Catemaco in Veracruz under the support of The Smithsonian Institution of Washington –DC- . Simultaneously, this last source was beign accused of beign "a front" for the US Army with the purpose of studying the use of migratory birds as "vectors" or transports to disseminate microbes ( 2 ).


Two research groups were apparently formed, one led by Philip S. Humphrey from the University of Kansas and another, for México and Middle America, led by William Scherer and Robert Dickerman of Cornell University. Both had "colossal" funds at their disposal ( 3 ), from the the official USA umbrella "Biowar Program" ( 4 ).


Mexican government authorities, then as now frequently acquiescent to acritical initiatives from their USA counterparts, PAHO (Pan American Health Organization) or USAMRIID-Fort Detrick-US Army officials, gave green light for research about the "natural history" of the VEE virus within Mexican spaces ultimately focused on verifying it´s presence. Further on, as "an unexpected" epizoodemic of the disease surged in México´s south east the irresponsible "ignoramus" permission was extended to produce, test, use, evaluate and sell an EXPERIMENTAL vaccine labeled TC-83, originally developed for US Army soldiers in Vietnam ( 5 ). The huge funding through PAHO, US army or Smithsonian channels allowed an enormous amount of un- classified research papers on VEE, migratory birds, their air-routes, their ecology, related wild fauna and their interactions. Not always prudent as to their author´s financial support, credit was given generously to US Army DOD (Department of Defense) or similar agencies ( 6 ) ( 7 ).


It is worth mentioning that at least in one case the institutional affiliation of the investigators performing innoculations of fauna, was NOT in "academia" but, surprinsingly, in the American Embassy itself...( 8 )With the amount of funds involved, large numbers of personnel were mobilized: senior investigators, graduate students, health officials, technicians from a number of laboratories on both sides of the border, administrators;


big money flowed for research teams of epidemiologists, physicians, microbiologists, virologists, veterinarians, biologists, bird traffickers…Fellowships for investigators and students were numerous and generous which makes me remember that in due time I interviewed a number of them such as one student working for his degree in ornithology (1963-1966); then young with a promising career ahead told me:…"At one point I did not like what we were doing…sitting still under jungle conditions, to count and identify –high power binoculars on hand- mosquitoes sucking blood from young nesting herons was extremely nasty…furthermore, it seemed to me I was working for some secret agency like CIA with dark interests behind…my poor unaware Mexican people kept me worried…in spite of the very attractive fellowship and career promises in US academia…I jumped out of the wagon…" ( 9 ).


An overall 10 year summary on VEE research findings in México -1961-1970- was delivered to Mexican authorities by PAHO-USA officials in a SURPRISINGLY timely date ( 10 ) since the VEE anticipated scare of a possible epizoodemic in México had just come a reality (11). Hitting first the Mexican state of Chiapas, near the border with Guatemala (12), the use of migratory birds to disseminate microorganisms like VEE would soon prove to be feasible, opening the door for an extended and extensive, field test –outside the USA territories- of the VEE corresponding TC-83 vaccine…In November 1969 the number of equine and human cases reported, had jumped notoriously and by July 1970, all the Mexican state of Chiapas was affected. Without previously paying attention to early warning signs México´s Secretariat of Agriculture and (Animal) Husbandry finally reacted, delivering 25,000 doses of a "vaccine timely ceded and produced in Maryland" (TC-83 Fort Detrick is in Fredericksburg Md. 50 miles N of Washington DC); further on, the TC-83 production in Mexico, was carried out by the then INIP -presently INIFAP- Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones Forestales, Agrícolas y Pecuarias, pertaining to the mentioned Secretariat...

As said before, the VEE employed initially as a bioweapon in Vietnam ( 5 ) required the development of an specific vaccine and out of several prototypes, TC-83 was selected and tested in 6,000 individuals –possibly recruits- within the USA; considered an "investigational drug" –IND- not yet approved for its live virus character, then and now shouldn´t be used without permission and serious precautions taken and one is shocked about the permissiveness with which it was ceded? sold? franchised? to México "to curb" the epizoodemic"... Not too much attention was paid in alerting Mexican authorities about the dangers of employing an "IND" type of live virus vaccine. However, a few Mexican experts voice of alarm on this matter were raised, with their voice silenced by the then President Echeverría´s veto; after all those were the days of J.F. Kennedy´s "Biowar Project 112", Navy´s wide SHAD Program, biosabotage aggressions to Cuba, plus dozens of bioweapons tests in American cities and land ( 13 ) (14 ).



So, why bother about using México´s corrupt "useful fool" authorities once more and carry out the needed field tests?


To make a long story short, VEE epizoodemic affected and infected, in the next 6 years ALL of the Mexican states but three, reaching –and alarming- the southern tip of Texas –mind you, where the famous affluent equine "King´s Ranch" is located- In the 1970-1976 period 29 million plus doses of TC-83 vaccine were produced in Mexican laboratories –"reporting daily to Fort Detrick".. (D. Batalla personal communication)- to vaccinate more than 14 million equines and additionally exporting 1.6 million doses; in those years, and in spite of vaccination, 49,209 equines died, 51,137 human cases developed the VEE disease and, sadly enough ¡ 93 ! persons died –mainly children and elderly- ; mind you, 30 more than in the Sverdlovsk bioweapons "accident" in the former USSR or the 9 killed by "snail mail" anthrax after "11/9" in US...After surviving the VEE infection in México,an unaccounted high number of patients developed serious neurological sequels and surprisingly –however understandably- the full official Mexican sources statistics ( 15 ) have always been minimized by USA official sources ( 16 ).


In recent years, after the opening of the National Security Archives it can be easily confirmed by anyone, that in the 1960´s to 1970´s period, huge amounts of "weaponized" VEE virus were stocked by the USArmy for "defensive" purposes (17) and , not very surprisingly, the denounced collaboration of the Smithsonian Institution "as a cover" for the US Army through its "Pacific Bird Banding Project" extending for ¡ 20 years ! was a sad ethically verification ( 17 ). Meanwhile, the dangerous TC-83 VEE live virus "IND" vaccine, tested on a scientifically backward but conveniently "good neighbor" nation like México, is kept quietly but surely on the shelves of some USArmy/Fort Detrick/USAMRIID laboratory with a sign "Handle with Care"...


Has the international referee in these matters, SIPRI, said anything in four decades? Not a bloody word... Has influential experts like the "Harvard-Sussex Group" under J.P. Robinson and/or M.Meselson pronounced itself publicly on this topic? Do they know the problem? ¡Sure they know! but...why bother? The usual USA double standard in matters of biowar ethics is clearly seen in the above described case and, furthermore, we should also consider seriously that "biological warfare..."(and bioweapons development)..."must represent the ultimate obscenity..." as Furmanski american physician recently wrote (18); unless of course, this dictum does not apply to the US...

1.- Scherer,W.F. et al VEE virus in Veracruz, México and the use of Hamsters as Sentinels, Science, vol. 45, 414, July 17, 1964

2.- Boffey, P. M., Biological Warfare: is the Smithsonian really a "Cover"? Science, vol.163, 791, 1969

3.- McLeod, R., Strictly for the Birds: Science, the Military and the Smithsonian´s Pacific Ocean Biological Survey Program, J. Hist. of Biol., vol. 34,315, 2001

4.- Bernstein, B.J., Birth of the US Biowarfare Program, Scient. Amer., 256, 94, 1987

5.- Reeves, W.C., http//

6.- Dickerman, R.W., et al Ecological Studies of VEE, numbers 1-8, Amer. J. Trop. Med. and Hygiene, 20-21, 740, 1971- 1972

7.- Scherer, W.F., Laboratory Safety for Arboviruses and Certain other viruses of Vertebrates, Amer. J. trop. Med. and Hygiene, 29, 6, 1359, 1980

8.- Corristan, E.C., from the American Embassy in México DF, carried out previously unpublished VEE inoculation studies; results were published and cited by Bowen, G.S. in Experimental Infection of North Amer. Mammals with Epidemic VEE, Amer. J. Trop. Med. and Hygiene, 25, 6, 1976

9.- Juarez L., C., Head of the Vertebrate Laboratory, Facultad de Ciencias, UNAM, various interviews…

10.- Horowitz, A., Informe del Programa de Investigaciones y Adiestramiento en Arboviirus en México, PAHO, ref.10/2 febrero 1971, Archivo Histórico de la SSA, México

11.- Larrondo, H., Epizootia de EEV, Doc. De Alerta, Archivo Histórico de la SSA, México

12.-Quan Kiu, DS., Epizootia/EEV/Chiapas, 1970, Tesis, Escuela Salud Pública SSA

13., Harris, R., and J. Paxman, A Higher Form of Killing, ed. Triad, Aylesbury, 1983

14.- US Congress Senate Records, Approp. Com., Feb 19 to July 15, 1969

15.- Batalla, D., Memorandum Creación/Des. Progm. EEV/INIP, 1976, Archivo. Hrico SSA

16.- Fort Detrick Medical Management of Biological Casualties, Fred., Md., 2001

17.- National Security Archive, vol.III, Biowar, document 26

18.- Furmanski, M., Letters to the Editor, New E.J. of Med., vol. 342, p. 61, Jan 6, 2000


This article is a summary of chapter 10, p. 63 "¿Vecino Distante o Tonto Util? of the book in Spanish "Bioterrorismo, Armas de Destrucción Masiva y Ética" that can be downloaded F R E E, from the web site Please refer to it for figures, tables and credits to them.

Este texto puede ser leido en español buscando el sitio y entrar al capítulo 10 "¿Vecino Distante o Tonto Útil?" del libro "Bioterrorismo, Armas de Destrucción Masiva y Ética" que ¡ es gratis! Entrar a el para tablas, figuras y fuente de las mismas.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Recapitularemos algo de los cuatro “episodios” anteriores, precisando datos y presentando dos novísimos e inapreciables documentos de los parientes Massieu de otros tiempos y sus allegados…

Recordamos que dentro de la estirpe “Massieu” contamos con antepasados como “Jean Massieu”, que fuera el único protector de Juana de Arco ante las salvajadas de su propia Iglesia, la Inquisición y los ingleses; también con el “Abate Massieu” de Normandía, inventor de la sidra y el “Calvados” quien, “si hubiera amado a Dios como amó la bebida…ya sería un santo”. Revisamos antes como mi bisabuelo Luis Massieu Redding –no Reading- heredó de su padre, Monsieur Victór Massieu, ciudadano francés, a mediados del siglo XIX, las famosas –en familia- once leguas de buena tierra cerca de Fairfield, Texas mismas que alguien se "clavaría".... a finales de ese siglo o principios del XX.

Luis Massieu Redding era el único varón entre 5 hermanas, de las que solo una llegaría con hijos al final del siglo XIX, –mi tía bisabuela- Julia Massieu Redding; ella había casado con Vicente E. De Gorostiza un 26 de agosto de 1868, procreando ambos a las legendarias "tías Gorostiza-Massieu de Tacubaya" Lucía, Lidia que se "quedaron"... ejerciendo la soltería, de por vida...muy sabias ; tuvieron además, otro (a) s hermano(a) s como la mayor Dolores y después a Juan, Manuel y Ana María...Con el tiempo Dolores casaría con Fernando Raffols dando origen a la estirpe Gorostiza-Raffols de donde, a su vez, nació Julieta, que casó ya mayor con Ricardo Lujambio, abuelo del actual Secretario de Educación de México Alonso Lujambio Irazabal. Puesto de otra manera: las tias Goros-Massieu son bisabuelas de Alonso y también mias...

El marido de Doña Julia pues, Dn. Vicente, fue el hijo menor del célebre diplomático y dramaturgo hispano-mexicano Manuel Eduardo De Gorostiza quien también participó en la defensa de Churubusco en 1847. Por su lado, el hermano de Julia antes citado, Luis Massieu Redding, casaría un 16 de junio de 1871 en la ciudad de Puebla con Clotilde Pérez Arévalo, hija a su vez del General Francisco Pérez, otro ex combatiente de los p-----s invasores yanquis en 1847 y Gobernador del Estado, procrearían el clan de los -y “las”, como se dice hoy día- Massieu Pérez, que fueron un montón: María Luisa, Luis Víctor, Luis Patricio, Wilfrido (abuelo del que escribe esta nota ), Leontina y Clotilde. Los conocí de niño ya viejos, cansados, casados y con hijos, excepto a Luis Patricio, que murió o "tomó las de Villadiego" antes de verse cambiando pañales… En otra “entrega” de ésta micro-historia familiar me referiré a ellos y algunos de sus allegados tal como los recuerdo, con hartas fotografías de época.

Gracias a mi querido hermano Bernardo, eminente “Ingeniero en Genealogía”, puedo precisar datos de los antepasados que él ha rastreado con gran acuciosidad desde documentos originales, base de sus genealogías familiares que pueden ser consultadas en la internet. Subrayo que este tipo de indagatorias no son “enchílame otra”, habida cuenta de tres problemas principales: 1) antes de las reformas juaristas del siglo XIX en México, que metieron orden en esto, los registros matrimoniales, bautismales, etc. los hacían instancias eclesiales con personal no necesariamente alfabetizado o bañado y menos educado para ello, por lo que suelen presentar algún error menor, errores ortográficos o manchas de mole, 2) era la costumbre registrar con varios nombres a una misma persona, quedando al gusto del registrado y su edad, el uso cotidiano de uno u otro nombre...o ninguno; adicionalmente y para complicar más las cosas, 3) si un menor fallecía, no era raro que se diera el mismo nombre del difunto a un nuevo vástago. Así las cosas mi abuelo “Wilfrido” (Massieu Pérez) con los años co-fundador del IPN, 1934, (y en el decenio 1923-1933 Director del ante-Poli, el hoy olvidado, Instituto Técnico Industrial) fue en realidad registrado como “Juan-Roberto-Eugenio-David-Wilfrido” ¿Cómo ven?

Agradezco a Bernardo me haya proporcionado copias de las boletas de registro obtenidas por él en algunas parroquias y fuentes primarias donde es bien recibido ( en mi caso exorcisan la entrada con solo verme acercar...); dichas boletas se refieren, una, al niño Luis (Timoteo-Juan de Mata) Massieu Redding –multicitado bisabuelo del suscrito y muchos mas- nacido el 24 de enero de 1841. En este documento podemos enterarnos que el bautizado… “era hijo legítimo del legítimo matrimonio de Don Víctor Massieu y de Doña Ana Redding naturales, el primero, de (La isla de) Sto. Domingo y la segunda, de (Londres) Inglaterra…” Por supuesto que habrá otros Massieu en México, pero es evidente, que la rama que nos ocupa, desciende de este tronco: tatarabuelo franco-dominicano y tatarabuela inglesa; bonita mezcla ¿no? Es pertinente , recordar al respecto que hace dos siglos Sto. Domingo era un bonito jaleo, pues pasaba alternativamente de españoles a ingleses o franceses y viceversa, para luego repetir el ciclo, combinándose los genes en el entreacto con los nativos isleños que aún quedaban y/o negros descendientes de esclavos…De esta manera, si una pareja actual de "rubitos Massieu de ojos claros" tienen un bebé africanoide, no se peléen enmedio de aclaraciones, mejor léan al otro Abate... Gregorio Mendel.

¿Bajo qué circunstancias se conocieron Monsieur Victór y Mari-ana? ¿Qué andaban haciendo los picarones? ¿Dónde…? ¿Sería en La Habana, Nuevo Orleans, Londres o París? ¡Que vuele la imaginación familia! y amables lectores...mientras les presento a continuación dos documentos FENOMENALES que certifican SIN LUGAR A DUDAS la nacionalidad del primer Massieu de esta rama, papá de los bautizados, Victor Massieu “de la Isla de Santo Domingo” y su "ñora", Mariana Redding "de Londres, Inglaterra", la mamá. Reitero: documentos cortesía del Ing. Fray Bernardo Servín Massieu...