LOS ANGELES (UPI) – The United States secretly used cloud seeding to dry up the Cuban sugar crop in 1969 and 1970, Lowell Ponte, a former Pentagon think tank researcher, said yesterday.
Ponte, a former specialist for the International Research and Technology Corp., said the CIA and the Pentagon seeded clouds in wind currents that carry rains to Cuba.
“Between 1966 and 1972 the CIA and later the Pentagon were using cloud seeding to make enemy trails muddy in Southeast Asia,” Ponte said in an interview for National Public Radio.
“But the seeding near Cuba was to cause less rain, not more. It was supposed to squeeze rain out of clouds before they reached the island. You might say we tried to embargo rain clouds.”
The experimental seeding was stepped up in 1970, Ponte said, because Cuban premier Fidel Castro staked the honor of his Communist government on the success of that year’s sugar crop.
“Castro set a harvest goal of 19 million tons of sugar,” Ponte said. “The CIA decided, after Castro’s promises, that failure would demoralize his people and make Cuban communism appear a failure.”
The cloud seeding brought erratic weather in Cuba and the sugar harvest fell short of its goal. Castro offered to resign, but remained in office, Ponte said.
“Weather science is too primitive to say that cloud seeding hurt Cuba’s harvest,” Ponte said, “but it could have. The point is that our government secretly attempted to tamper with weather in another nation, with which we were not at war, in an effort to cause economic and political harm.”
Ponte, auther of “The Cooling,” a book dealing with climatic change and manipulation of weather for political reasons, said the cloud seeding near Cuba was to provide information for a Pentagon project called “Nile Blue.”
The secret project, he said, has studied ways to melt polar icecaps, direct hurricanes and tornadoes as weapons and to “destabilize wearther in the Soviet Union, China and Cuba” to ruin harvests.
The Pentagon and CIA study was aimed at increasing America’s “food weapon,” the political use of food sales in much the same way as the Arab nations use oil, he said.
(Transcribed from the Palm Beach Post-Times.)