The Steward Health Care saga: our government is once again held at ransom by the Americans

Although the media followed the whole debacle in parliament last Thursday, a small detail escaped observation and reporting: this is the behaviour of our Minister of Foreign Affairs Minister Ian Borg. During the whole discussion about the agreement with Steward Health Care, Ian Borg, who is usually considered a staunch and vociferous supporter of Labour, kept his composure and left it to his comrades within the party to make the usual fuss and noise which are typical in such controversial parliamentary sessions. But there was another important detail. At one point, both Ian Borg and the Prime Minister were seen talking to each other. What was particular about this short discussion was the fact that even though the Prime Minister was somewhat agitated during this parliamentary debate and did his utmost to stop the opposition from holding the Government to ransom, his body language changed when he met to talk to Borg. Both appeared calm as though they were living in another orbit. 

The contents of this exchange are unknown. One can only guess what the two discussed. The first option would be that they discussed the recent news concerning Ian Borg. The court declared that the pool built by Ian Borg on his property was illegal. Another reason could be that Borg could have had some important message to pass on to the Prime Minister. He could have easily seized the opportunity to inform the Prime Minister about the Americans’ anger at the Maltese Government about the Steward Health Care story. In fact, the Prime Minister’s discourse about this American investment changed. Before this parliamentary debate, the Prime Minister said that he wanted back the money from Vitals and Steward Health Care. Both Vitals and Steward Health Care know that this cannot happen. In the Parliamentary debate, he changed his tune and said that Steward Health Care gave a sterling medical service to the Maltese society. The political repercussions are all there loud and clear. In the following days after the parliamentary debate, Steward Health Care reacted by issuing press releases attacking the Government’s behaviour, with the last one being against Joseph Muscat and Keith Schembri. 

The truth is that Adrian Delia has upset the apple cart. The deal with Vitals first and Steward Health Care afterwards hide what appears to have been a number of secret agreements between the Maltese Government and the Obama administration. 

One needs to start with the famous visit of Joseph Muscat and his wife to President Obama and his wife. Such visits do not take place casually in America. For Obama to concede such a visit, the Prime Minister must repay by entering into contractual agreements with those American companies that support his electoral cause. Most probably, this explains the shameful agreement reached with Vitals. Now Steward Health Care is bringing in the name of Keith Schembri and accusing him of having betrayed them. One must remember that Keith Schembri had reached an agreement with Crane Currency. This American company opened a factory in Malta. Probably, this is how Schembri was paid for making such a shameful contract, besides being given protection by the Americans for his presumed involvement in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia. Although his name has been mentioned several times in connection with the murder, he was never investigated properly by the police. The main prosecutor in Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder, Philip Galea Farrugia, was accused by the defence lawyers of having played dirty tricks permitting Schembri and others not to be cross-examined by Yorgen Fenech’s defence lawyers in the compilation of evidence.  One must not forget that Joseph Muscat had asked the FBI to help the Maltese Police to solve this murder! Even more worrying is that the CIA has a history of interference in Maltese politics.

As a result of all these dirty agreements between the Maltese Government and the Obama administration, the Maltese Government has ended up paying millions to American companies that support the Democratic Party. Remember that when Trump became president, he refused to appoint an American ambassador to Malta. There was a diplomatic reason for all this.  

History can furnish proof of all this. One must remember that in the 1960s, the Prime Minister of the day, Giorgio Borg Olivier, visited the White House and met with President Kennedy. What is less known is that Borg Olivier had to sign an “investment guarantee” agreement for that meeting to take place. Arthur Schlesinger refers to this encounter between Kennedy and Borg Olivier in his book, A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House. In this book, the author affirms that Kennedy pulled the legs of Giorgio Borg Olivier over an anecdote of Maltese history during the time of the Ottoman Siege about which Borg Olivier had no knowledge. Schlesinger states that Kennedy had derailed Borg Olivier on this point of Maltese history by asking him questions about the Great Siege, to which Borg Olivier was not able to reply. Schlesinger writes that “Kennedy inadvertently embarrassed” Borg Olivier by his questions, and “displayed more knowledge” on the Great Siege than Borg Olivier. (p. 559)

One must remember that during this period, important American Companies set foot in Malta, including the Hilton, Sheraton, and Bluebell. An American citizen of Maltese descent named John Mamo had a concession from General Motors leading to the building of an imposing structure in front of the stadium. There was quite an impressive economic activity at the time. 

However, the Americans wanted political compensation for such an economic investment. The American Sixth Fleet was at home in our harbour. The harbour was teeming as though the American navy owned it. One must also remember that Borg Olivier wanted Malta to join NATO. Borg Olivier entrusted the Nationalist Minister Mario Felice to work on building a close relationship with the Americans in his bid for Malta to join the Transatlantic Alliance, but NATO did not want Malta.

The Americans were afraid of Dom Mintoff. He was not seen as a reliable western partner. For this reason, the Americans asked Borg Olivier for an investment guarantee. They feared that if Dom Mintoff were to win the elections, he would confiscate and nationalize all American private investment. They were not prepared to invest without such an assurance.

When Mintoff’s electoral victory appeared possible, the CIA wanted to interfere in the local Maltese elections to stop Mintoff from gaining power. Still, the then American ambassador to Malta, John Charles Pritzlaff, was of a completely different opinion and did not let them. Pritzlaff not only stopped the CIA from interfering in local politics but also stopped them from fixing the 1971 election. This episode is mentioned by Victor Marchetti and John D. Marks in their book The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence (1974), (p. 297).

When Mintoff came to power in 1971, his first move was to expel from Malta Admiral Gino Birindelli, the commander of Allied Naval Forces in Southern Europe together with a CIA official by the surname of Stephenson. Stephenson was the CIA’s station manager. He was also in local business, gathering ship waste, and was the main purveyor of victuals for the Sixth Fleet.

Eventually, Mintoff would seek to build bridges with the Americans and for this reason, he did not hesitate to ask for the help of Mario Felice, the ex-Minister and Nationalist MP. Felice’s positive response to Mintoff’s request was the cause that ended his political career. 

Therefore, one needs to start asking questions that go beyond our shores to truly understand what has gone wrong with this Vitals and Steward Health Care agreement. Who chose Vitals and, eventually, Steward Health Care? Did the Maltese Government choose them, or were they chosen by the CIA? Finally, Vitals and Steward Health Care invested in Malta after the Government guaranteed that no one, including the courts, could undermine such a deal. Now, they feel betrayed by the same Government with whom they made a deal. There is no doubt that Vitals and Steward Health Care would not have entered into such a deal without such a guarantee. The fact that the Government failed in its promise will have severe consequences for this same Government.

That short discussion between the Foreign Minister Ian Borg and Prime Minister Robert Abela may have been about all this. Borg may have forewarned the prime minister about the American Government’s anger. What is sure is that Robert Abela had to retune his position to what the Americans had started to dictate to him, and this explains the whole eulogy about how good and efficient Steward Health Care was in Gozo. It is a pity that in his discourse in parliament last Thursday, Robert Abela did not also mention the Prudente story!

If Abela is going to be against the Americans, he knows that, as we say in Maltese se jinħaraq – his days are numbered, and he will become another Alfred Sant. Sant won a landslide victory in 1996 after the Nationalist Minister Joe Fenech angered the Americans with the release of the terrorist Ali Rezaq in 1993! However, Sant was not accommodating to the Americans and lost his power after 22 months. Once again, the CIA helped the Nationalists to return to power and remained in power until Lawrence Gonzi could no longer guarantee to the new Obama administration the imposition of gender ideology on the Maltese nation. As a result, the Obama administration decided to drop Gonzi and replaced him by Joseph Muscat.

We are back to American interference in Maltese politics: they may have changed their coat, but not their nature.

2 thoughts on “The Steward Health Care saga: our government is once again held at ransom by the Americans

  1. So ”The Obama administration dropped GonziPN and installed Muscat instead”. U IL-POPLU, IL-VOTANT MALTA MA JISEMIEX, ZERO. XASURDITA, XINTI TPEJEP?

  2. You forgot all the shady grey listing business – why were we truly placed on it in the first place and what was the price we had to pay to get off it?

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