CNN revealed on Sunday that the number of American embassy personnel in Cuba affected by a mysterious wave of sonic attacks that may have left some permanently deaf is significantly higher than initially reported.
According to unnamed U.S. officials, more than ten American diplomats and relatives living in diplomatic quarters reported symptoms in line with the sonic attacks, including loss of hearing, extreme headaches, nausea, and confusion. The report also claims Canadian diplomats suffered similar symptoms.
The communist government of Cuba denies any deliberate attacks on American personnel despite its decades-long history of harassing and attacking American diplomats. The U.S. State Department has affirmed it has no plans to shut the embassy down despite the health risks and President Donald Trump’s recent declaration that he would begin to reverse President Barack Obama’s favorable policies towards the Castro regime.
CNN reports that two American diplomats taken out of their positions in Cuba could not return to their duties because they had suffered severe hearing loss and needed medical care, while the others requested to be removed from the American embassy in Havana amid the attacks. Over ten diplomats and relatives received treatment despite only two suffering severe repercussions from the attack.
The CNN report notes that another five Canadian diplomats suffered similar symptoms, suggesting the attack was not intended only for American officials. Canadian officials have confirmed the report of such incidents and added that they, too, do not have an explanation for the incidents.
CNN states that experts believe an unidentified entity used “a sophisticated sonic weapon that operated outside the range of audible sound” near the homes of those affected, which could cause hearing loss and symptoms similar to those of a concussion. It adds that Cuba is not the only suspect, as the Castro regime has made the island a hospitable environment for a variety of American enemies, including the governments of North Korea, Venezuela, and Iran. Raúl Castro’s government also has ties to anti-American terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
Initial reports on the strange attacks revealed that at least one of the American diplomats most significantly affected has been deaf for ten months and doctors fear he or she may never regain their hearing. There is no evidence that the attacks have stopped, and no public information suggesting investigators have uncovered any sort of sonic device that could have caused this damage.
In early August, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters that the embassy was “fully operational” despite the “medical ailments” suffered by U.S. personnel. She did not provide any specific information on how the U.S. government is protecting the remaining diplomats at the embassy.
The Cuban Castro regime, meanwhile, has denied any involvement in the attacks and issued a statement this month claiming that its Foreign Relations ministry (MINREX) would be heavily involved in any investigation of the incident. “Cuba treated this matter with utmost seriousness and acted with celerity and professionalism to clarify the situation, initiating an exhaustive investigation, prioritized and urgent on orders of the highest levels of the Cuban government,” MINREX said in the statement.
The communist government of Cuba has a long history of attacking, harassing, and spying on American diplomats, even before President Obama announced the full restoration of the U.S. outpost in Havana to the status of embassy during his tenure. Prior to that reopening, America had not had full diplomatic relations with Cuba since 1961. American diplomats nonetheless operated on the island, forced to live in Cuban government-owned properties from which Castro operatives could easily collect intelligence.
Detailed in Foreign Policy, a 2003 State Department cable accused Cuba of “ongoing physical and psychological harassment of U.S. personnel ‘to frustrate routine business, occupy resources, demoralize personnel, and generally hinder efforts to advance U.S. policy goals.'” Specific examples of such harassment included arbitrary searches of diplomatic homes and car break-ins, defacing diplomats’ cars, espionage on telephones and computers, filling homes with mosquitos, smearing human feces in a diplomatic residence, “sexual entrapment,” ringing doorbells at all hours, and other odd harassment techniques.