Sonic Attacks Havana Embassy Cuba Feed a Media Frenzy with Few Facts

In September the US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) was supposed to release new guidelines for Americans traveling to Cuba. That hasn’t happened yet (update: this since occurred on November 8th, 2017) but another governmental agency, The State Department, has spoken out and released a travel warning. Here’s what the world knows about sonic attacks Havana embassy Cuba, what you need to know and what might happen next…

After a five month waiting period, new rules have finally been released by the State Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control as of November 8th, and entered into effect on November 9th, 2017. Here's another post about what new rules mean for legal US citizen travel to Cuba.

What Little the World Knows

  • Since May 2017 over two dozen American and Canadian Foreign Service workers stationed in Cuba have reported a broad range of symptoms and subsequently been reassigned by their governments.
  • The US State Department has issued a travel warning against Americans visiting Cuba.
  • The State Department is drawing down staff at the US Embassy in Havana to about 60%.

That’s it.

You can guess a little bit more from the warning itself which provides two additional pieces of explanation:

  1. The cause of symptoms reported by American and Canadian Foreign Service workers may have have something to do with their residences (they stay in diplomatic housing and hotels) therefore private individuals could conceivably be exposed to the same cause if they too stayed in hotels.
  2. Since the US Embassy in Havana is drawing down its staff it will be less able to serve Americans traveling in Cuba.

It is important to note that the US Embassy will still respond to American travelers in the event of an emergency.

There are no confirm-able facts about sonic attacks Havana embassy Cuba, their cause or causes of the symptoms that have been reported. The State Department has supposedly scanned the brains of those affected and is holding evidence from those scans that proves the existence of targeted attacks, but nothing has been made public.

Hypotheses, Theories and Opinions Abound

The most catching media headlines usually have the phrase ‘sonic attacks’ in them (and that phrase is usually in parentheses as you see it here). The supposition is that Cuban agents either intentionally used a weaponized sonic device to attack, or through incompetence cause a listening device to malfunction causing the reported symptoms in the affected Americans and Canadians. This scenario has largely been debunked by the scientific community since any such device would have to be too massive to conceal, especially since it would also need a direct line of site to its victim.

Certain actors are sure that the situation is evidence of malicious intent by the Cuban government. These include politicians like Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. Keep in mind that these politicians both eschew science and fact when it suits them and tend to gain from demonizing the Cuban government. Take the opinions of people like these for what they are worth.

One frightening possibility is that a third government, like Russia or China, is attacking American and Canadian diplomats in Cuba in an effort to sour relations between two American nations. This is supported by the facts that Cuba has nothing to gain by reversing the previously positive trend in relations with the US while either Russia or China would have much to gain by alienating the Caribbean island from its nearest neighbor.

Skeptical observers make sure to point out that no cause nor agent of sonic attacks Havana embassy Cuba has been identified in six months of searching and that the symptoms reported align with many possible diagnoses including some rare tropical diseases, mass hysteria and even normal aging.

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Even Without a Cause the Results Must be Taken Seriously

Sonic attacks Havana embassy Cuba and Russian spies may or may not be fiction but the State Department’s travel warning is a fact.

To mitigate the risks suggested by the State Department 1) don’t stay in hotels and 2) go with an agency that has well developed protocols around risk management and emergency response. You could 3) also consider limiting your time in Havana and visiting any of the many other spectacular destinations Cuba has to offer.

People are already suffering. It doesn’t matter if the source is espionage or mass hysteria, human suffering should never be dismissed. Neither should it be used consciously or otherwise to justify additional suffering. The sad truth is that when governments fight their people suffer. The Cuban people are suffering from increased uncertainty driving tourism down. The American people are suffering as their freedom to visit their neighbors is eroded. The people of the rest of the world suffer as powerful nations backslide towards the dangerous posturing of the Cold War period.

Be an agent of hope and change. Travel to Cuba legally to meet your neighbors. Don’t wait and see because if we don’t advocate for better relations with our fellow Americans it could become too late. Be the change you want to see in US/Cuba relations!

Update: There have been no additional sonic attacks Havana embassy Cuba since Fall of 2017 and all of the people affected have made full recoveries. And, interestingly enough the US has appointed career diplomat Lawrence Gumbiner to the US Embassy in Havana representing a level of official higher even than was present during the Obama Administration.