Originally posted by the Cuba and Venezuela Solidarity Committee, January 21
In November 2016, shortly after the election of Donald Trump, U.S. diplomats in Cuba began to complain about hearing strange noises and experiencing various symptoms including nausea, headaches and hearing loss. Those noises were ultimately shown to have been common crickets. But the U.S. government’s claim that its diplomats had been “attacked” (at first by sonic weapons and later by microwave weapons) and were suffering “Havana syndrome” not only persisted, but expanded in the years that followed to include more than one thousand (!) diplomats and CIA agents in countries around the world.
Now, more than five years after the initial claims of this “syndrome” emerged in Havana, and numerous articles in the press suggesting that Cuba, Russia, or China was responsible for these “attacks,” the CIA has finally admitted there has never been any proof that any of this was true. As the headline in the NBC News article which broke the story reads, “CIA says ‘Havana Syndrome’ not result of sustained campaign by hostile power.” The U.S. government hasn’t completely abandoned the story, still claiming that “In about two dozen cases, the agency cannot rule out foreign involvement.” But the New York Times spelled out what that statement really means: “The idea that Russia, China or Cuba was responsible for attacking hundreds of diplomats around the world was never backed up by any evidence that the Biden administration could unearth.”
There’s the truth which has been apparent the entire time, and which the Cuban government and Cuban scientists studying the claims have made clear from the start — the charges were “never backed up by any evidence.” With more than a thousand alleged cases around the world, most of which occurred at U.S. Embassies surrounded by CCTV, never once have they seen any people loitering on the block with strange weapons in their hands, nor strange cars or trucks parked across the street with antennas on their roofs, or anything whatsoever. No secret communications, no informers, nothing. Nor have they ever shown, as we outlined in an article three years ago, that any of the supposed sonic or microwave weapons supposedly used in these “attacks” could even exist, much less that they do exist.
No evidence exists that either the U.S. or any other country has ever created such a weapon.
These new admissions from the CIA aren’t complete, though. Because not only haven’t there been any “attacks” on U.S. diplomats and spies in Havana or elsewhere, there isn’t actually a “syndrome” either, despite the U.S. Congress having passed a law compensating the supposed “victims” of that “syndrome.” As we wrote in our previous article, one of the original symptoms claimed for this “syndrome” was hearing loss. When the 21 diplomats in the U.S. Embassy in Havana were asked, nine claimed hearing loss. But when tested, only three actually had hearing loss, with no proof that their hearing was any worse than it had been before the alleged incidents.
Even more egregious are repeated references in articles over the years to “traumatic brain injury,” TBI. But in fact, brain scans showed no evidence of brain damage. Two individuals showed mild signs (small spots on an MRI image) and a third one showed moderate signs that, according to a report in the prestigious journal JAMA, were not specific, are present in many diseases and could be attributed to processes that occurred before those persons traveled to Cuba. There was zero evidence of actual TBI. In all likelihood, “Havana Syndrome” was just a combination of job stress combined with mass psychosis. That combination can produce real symptoms (though not hearing loss or TBI), but does not result from being “attacked.”
“Havana Syndrome” wasn’t just a scientific mystery, however. Along with being used by the media to demonize Cuba, Russia, and China, it was the pretext used by Donald Trump to justify expelling most Cuban diplomats, virtually shuttering its Embassy in Havana, and imposing vicious sanctions on Cuba. Those policies all continue under Biden. Will Biden use the CIA conclusion that it was all in error to change those policies? He should, obviously, but it’s up to us to step up the pressure to make sure he does.
In December, even before this new revelation, 114 members of Congress signed a letter to President Biden, calling on him to rescind the changes in Cuba policy that have taken place in the past five years, and to “move towards normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations.” Actions took place around the U.S. in December and January in support of that letter, such as one that took place in San Francisco in January called on Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to add her name to that letter and to bring its recommendations to a vote in the House. Expanding that effort around the country is a concrete task that Cuba solidarity activists can undertake, bolstered now by the U.S. government’s own conclusion that there was never any justification for the actions that were taken.