Havana Syndrome — What is Causing Brain Damage to American Diplomats?
The Cuba Thaw begun in 2014 ending 54 years of hostility and cold war between the USA and Cuba; this culminated in Barack Obama visiting Cuba in March 2016 and the opening up of formal relations between the two countries and their long and complex history of love and war.
The New Republic deemed the Cuban thaw to be Obama’s finest foreign policy achievement and was compared to Clinton’s opening of relations between Vietnam and USA. The successes of Cuba Thaw promised a new optimistic relationship between the two.
That was until ENTER TRUMP.
In 2015 the “Interest Section” in Cuba and USA in Washington and Havana were upgraded into Embassies. But it was the strange health problems of the American and Canadian staff in their Havana embassies that led to accusations of Cuba perpetrating an unspecified attack and the US subsequently recalling all non-essential personnel.
Let’s look further at ‘Havana Syndrome’ — a neurological disorder that has been reported not just in Cuba but also has popped up in China.
Hearing strange grating noises, headache, hearing loss, memory loss, nausea, cognitive impairment. Victims struggle to remember basic words and facts.
First news reports of the syndrome were in 2017. The Washington Post reported that US officials believed Cuba used a covert sonic weapon to create severe hearing loss in the victims.
As of June 2018 there are believed to be twenty-six American citizens claiming symptoms.
The first discovery of the syndrome occurred in November 2016 when an unnamed CIA agent complained of loud noises outside their Havana apartment alongside a strange pressure in their head. The agent apparently closed all the windows in their complex that night and sought medical attention afterwards. When the agent sought treatment there was no specific cause or diagnosis given. The symptoms began to worsen and the agent was eventually recalled from Cuba.
By February 2017 two more officials reported the same sensations initially given in November and by that spring there were sixteen reported agents with symptoms. Concluding in the fall with another five cases. This was a total of 21 cases within the first 12 months.
However; despite the initial reports coming from a strange noise late at night, some cases claimed to have not recalled hearing any sounds whatsoever. The infected (for lack of a better term) victims first claimed to have been afflicted in many different places including home, hotel rooms, temporary residence and often several floors above the ground.
Canada cannot claim the same complex animosity towards Cuba and the relations have been far warmer than their American counterparts over the years. Canadians often vacation and travel to Cuba and tensions have eased significantly since the revolution.
Despite the lack of conflict between the two, the Canadian officials also claim to have had the same symptoms including the children of officials — with the children having nosebleeds among the symptoms. Canada may be a case of collateral damage rather than malicious targeting by the Cubans or it may corroborate claims of an environmental force at play.
Canada responded to the threat by warning servicemen about bringing family members on their assignments to Cuba. The Canadians also responded by moving the living facilities away from the Americans. No new cases were reported from the Canadians until December 2018 where a diplomat was diagnosed with the so-called “Thing”.
Health problems from The Thing were onset suddenly in all cases. The victims would hear strange grating noises coming from a specific direction. Some experienced pressure and vibrations and the sensation is comparable to driving a car with the window rolled down.
The duration of strange noises can range from 20 seconds to 30 minutes. People near the victims would typically not hear anything, leading the sensation to be purely within the victim’s head.
There is a recording of what the sounds some embassy workers heard (available on YouTube). The noise peaks at 7kHz.
One US diplomat now claims that they need a hearing aid and that the damage to their hearing is permanent.
Some of the diplomats’ symptoms were so severe that they were forced to cancel their tours early and return to the United States, officials said.
This is not a disorder to take lightly as it has permanent consequences and has led to the discharge in Cuba of some diplomats.
MRI SCAN FINDINGS AND THE UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH STUDY
In March 2018 the MRI scans and tests on Canadian diplomats showed evidence of brain damage mirroring those of affected Americans.
According to the scans there was a difference established in whole brain white matter volume, regional gray and white matter volume, cerebella microstructual integrity and functional connectivity in the auditory and visuospatial subnetworks.
A study at the University of Pittsburgh 2019 did not determine the cause or source of the injury.
The Americans have stated that a sonic weapon caused the injury however there is no proof of this and this to me stinks of rabble-rousing typical of the current administration. Especially in light of their anti-Cuban stance. In response to the “attacks” the Americans then kicked out Cuban diplomats from Washington. The Cuban Thaw is now back in the refrigerator since the likes of Trump and Ted Cruz have gained control of government and the finger waving is prevalent.
The investigations carried out by the FBI were floundered by the CIA and State Department and their unfortunate habit of not sharing information. There was also the sensitive issue of not disclosing personal medical information of those affected, and much information was not shared between the CIA and the FBI.
The joke in diplomatic circles was as follows:
The Cubans are being more open about this… than the CIA.
So what is cause of The Thing?
Marco Rubio was a famous critic of the Cuban Thaw and his statement was as follows:
The Cuban government has been harassing US Personnel working in Havana for Decades. This has not stopped with President Obama’s appeasement. Personal harm to US officials shows the extent the Castro regime will go…
Assuming the attack was malicious –what was the offending arsenal?
Sound as Weapon?
This theory is most popular (particular to those with a political or Cuba-suspicious agenda).
The use of sound has been used as weaponry and an example is off the Somalian Coast where US ships tend to use this force against the pirates. Ultrasonic frequencies can be harnessed and directed. Prolonged exposure to such sound can cause human tissue damage and affect the brain matter.
Scientists however are sceptical about the sound’s potential to cause permanent brain damage. The sound would have to enter the brain tissue itself and High Frequency sound typically does not travel well through a barrier like a wall or curtain. As anybody that has had an ultrasound will know, they put the gel on you. If there is a tiny bit of air between the sound and body — then it typically does not pass.
Weaponizing sound would suit the Ian Fleming fans amongst you and is very thrilling and glamorous but the technicalities of doing such a thing are too much of a barrier.
No not the sport. More like the insect…
The Jamaican field cricket makes noise very similar to those heard in Havana and there was speculation of a rare jungle cricket causing the offending sound — a hypothesis agreed upon by Cuban Scientists.
However; the likelihood of crickets causing such a high number of cases (not to mention those cases now emerging in China) was called very unlikely by the University of Pennsylvania.
Other theories mentioned on multiple reports include ‘microwaving the diplomats’.
Similar to the Cold War incident known as “The Moscow Signal” where microwave like radiation was beamed towards American diplomats during their time in Moscow.
This would involve microwave radiation pulse weaponry undetectable to humans and generating heat within the brain. The rise in temperature can launch acoustic wave pressure into the middle ear. Another far-fetched idea that sounds more at home within the pages of a Robert Ludlum thriller.
And of course there has been speculation of mass delusions. Think “Folie a Deux” if you will excuse my French. Sociologist Robert Bartholomew has discussed the attacks as representing mass psychogenic illness with psychosomatic causes. With the MRI results suggesting otherwise I feel we can rule out the mass hysteria cause — there is proven brain damage to the victims and the neurological damage is conclusive.
And inevitably with the way the geopolitical map is playing out nowadays there has been speculation of Russian involvement to stir the pot between the US and Cuba and China…
Raul Castro allegedly suggested China could have been involved in this (this was an overheard conversation that Castro had in private). It is no secret that a strange tension is brewing between America and China presently and in April 2018 there were reports of afflicted American diplomats experiencing Havana Syndrome in Guangzhou, China. What is interesting is that this ailment ONLY affects diplomats and those working abroad in a diplomatic capacity (and their loved ones).
What is chilling about the Chinese incident is that even the dogs suffered symptoms which included the dogs suffering nose bleeds and vomiting — as well as continuous barking and clear displeasure shown from the dogs.
In June 2018 some US diplomats were evacuated from China with no specified reasons being given.
Interestingly enough the Americans were far less finger waving and a little bit more cagey when the Chinese cases begun to emerge. As opposed to the clearly accusatory and inflammatory tone shown to the Cuban government.
Ultimately, this is presently an unexplained phenomena with scary auditory and sensory damage being reported for those that have it and until we know further, all we can speculate on is that “The Thing” does NOT like North American diplomats.