US Responds to Cuban Sonic Attacks
Over the past two months, at least 21 US officials in Cuba have been diagnosed with medical issues from alleged sonic attacks. Symptoms range from visual impairment and dizziness, to permanent hearing loss and brain damage. Though the weapons and attackers are still yet to be identified, the US has begun to pull out embassy staff, and warns American citizens not to visit Cuba. The US Embassy located in the nation’s capital, Havana, will lose around 60% of its staff while both countries undergo thorough investigation in regards to these attacks.
While the US and Cuba have had hostile relations for decades, the nations had been working towards reconciliation over the past few years. The Obama administration reopened embassies, lifted embargos, cut back travel restrictions, and eased tensions immensely. These efforts have definitely been diminished, to some extent, through President Trump’s policies, but never more so than through this cut of diplomatic staff. On Friday, Josefina Vidal, Cuba’s foreign ministry official in charge of US affairs, released a statement saying, “We consider the decision announced today by the US government through the state department as hasty and will affect bilateral relations.” There has already been an ongoing debate within Capitol Hill regarding the decision and whether it was indeed too hasty, considering all that has gone into attaining peace between the nations, or not forceful enough, considering the gravity of the situation and the victims of the sonic attacks.
Even before these recent events, US government employees had allegedly been harassed by Cuban government officials for decades. James Cason, who ran the United States Interests Section in the early 2000’s said, “They would come into your house and erase the pictures of your kids off your computer, or turn all the books around on your bookshelf, just to show you that you had no privacy.” Other US officials in Cuba had reported power being cut and vehicles being followed, but never anything so physical as these recent attacks.
Those affected by the sonic attacks reported a variety of noises and vibrations, many describing minute-long ringing or grinding that seemed to come from their bed, and only occurred at night. While many throughout the world remain skeptical of the possibility of sonic weapons, especially those that could inflict brain damage, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson released a statement in which he said the illnesses were definitely a result of “health attacks,” but investigations still have “not been able to determine who’s to blame.” For now, the sonic attacks, the magnitude of their strength, and their clear target towards American agents, have the US government deeply concerned, and extremely cognizant of the danger in Cuba. In fact, as of Friday, US officials still think that the remaining 27 personnels in Havana are at risk.