Friday, February 8, 2019

The Sounds of Crickets: The long silence when Canadian and U.S. diplomats were being harmed in Cuba

Governments waited too long to warn their diplomats, and the lawsuits are now flying.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office criticized the State Department for how it handled an Accountability Review Board (ARB) following the harm done to U.S. diplomats in Havana, Cuba. The reports were downplayed, and did not become public until eight months later, because impacted diplomats were complaining. The same process has played out over in even longer span of time with Canadian diplomats and their foreign service.

Their respective governments waited to long, and underestimated the harm done. Perhaps their mistake was listening to the assurances of the Cuban government.

Twenty six (26) American diplomats and their family members were harmed in Havana, but Cuban officials claimed that the diplomats had preexisting conditions.

In the Canadian case it has been reported that "nine adults and five children from diplomatic families have developed unusual illnesses in Havana, with symptoms including nausea, dizziness, headaches and trouble concentrating." These are the same symptoms reported by the Americans.

If the warning had gone out earlier, and family and essential personal been recalled, perhaps five children would not have been impacted.

The Castro regime has tried to claim that no harm has been done to diplomats in Cuba. The dictatorship claimed they are victims of mass stress and the sounds that they are hearing are crickets.  These charges have been echoed by others that should know better.  Canadian and U.S. diplomats have been harmed in Havana.

These attacks began in November of 2016 and were reported on to official channels in December of 2016. The State Department knew that diplomats were suffering brain trauma in Havana in February of 2017 and evacuated 40 Americans over the next two months.  On January 29, 2018 the news broke that 19 U.S. tourists had also suffered brain trauma in Cuba.

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a preliminary report on February 15, 2018 and an accompanying editorial studying health impacts on 21 U.S. government employees in Havana between December 2016 and August 2017. These individuals had severe injuries and the bottom line on medical findings are that:
Concussion-like symptoms were observed in U.S. government personnel in Cuba after they reported hearing intensely loud sounds in their homes and hotel rooms and feeling changes in air pressure caused by an unknown source. The symptoms were consistent with brain injury although there was no history of head trauma.
Castro regime officials on October of 2017 said talk of acoustic strikes was “science fiction” and accused Washington of “slander.” investigating U.S. complaints of attacks that sickened American diplomats in Havana.  Denials continued later in October 2017 but now their narrative was that the alleged noise behind the “sonic attacks” was coming from cicadas and crickets. Cuban scientists convened by the government argued that the symptoms were the product of a "mass psychogenic illness"(MPI). However the JAMA report said MPI was unlikely because some of the individuals had no idea others had been affected and it "is often associated with transient, benign symptoms with rapid onset and recovery often beginning with older individuals.”

Canada and the United States waited too long to warn their diplomats, and the lawsuits are now flying. Meanwhile  the State Department is contracting a team of scientists and medical doctors to try and find out what happened.

Wonder when someone will be able to sue the Cuban government for failing to protect diplomats on their soil, and discounting the threat not only to the diplomats, but also their families? Waiting for an answer one can expect to hear crickets.

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