Cuban investigators have discarded popular speculation that a sonic weapon would be to blame for damaging the health of 2 dozen American diplomats stationed within Havana.
Among their very own theories? That stress over moving U. S. -Cuba relations might have exacerbated health problems.
Preliminary news reports in August, citing unnamed U. S. officials, held responsible a mysterious host of signs and symptoms — hearing loss, ringing in the ears, disequilibrium, headaches, fatigue, facial and stomach pain, memory and sleep disorders, slight concussions and nausea — upon attacks using a “ covert chevy sonic device. ”
Within an exclusive interview with the Miami Herald, five top members of the Cuban team investigating the incidents defined their hypotheses and preliminary results in a case that threatens to place U. S. -Cuba relations within the deep freeze. The United States has already withdrawn the majority of American diplomats from Havana , expelled 17 Cuban diplomats through Washington and warned that Us citizens should reconsider travel to Cuba and prevent two hotels, the Nacional plus Capri.
Based on the still-limited evidence that’ s been contributed by the FBI, the State Department plus their own investigation, the Cuban scientists said they don’ t think health symptoms suffered by Oughout. S. Embassy personnel were the result of a sonic weapon or sound dunes.
A State Department speaker said in response to Herald queries in regards to the Cuban theories: “ We can still do not have definitive answers on the resource or cause of the attacks. The particular investigation into the attacks is continuous. ”
Unless the particular U. S. shares more information on their investigation, Cuban investigators stated, what caused the health symptoms might remain an unsolved mystery.
They also complained that they’ re often the last to know whenever new developments in the bizarre situation surface in the United States.
Once the State Department said recently it had received 19 unconfirmed reviews from American travelers to the isle who complained of health signs and symptoms similar to those experienced by diplomatic workers, Cuban investigators said they discovered it not from U. H. officials but by reading this in the Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.
“ Without cooperation, we’ re not going to get anywhere, ” said Dr . Manuel Jorge Villar Kuscevic, an ear, nose plus throat specialist and coordinator from the Cuban expert committee looking into the particular diplomats’ health problems.
More than 80 Cuban specialists work on the case and they have come up with fourteen hypotheses — from mass hysteria to a toxin or virus.
In rejecting the sonic episodes theory, Cuban investigators point out not all the Americans suffered hearing reduction. If a sonic weapon or audio waves intense enough to produce the particular array of symptoms were employed, all of the diplomats would have shown auditory harm, they said.
“ For the sound to be forceful enough to provide you with a concussion, people would finish up deaf, ” said Dr . Mitchell Joseph Valdé s Sosa, mind of the Cuban Center for Neuroscience.
“ We have thrown away the idea that the damages could be created by any type of sound — much less simply by any type of sonic weapon, ” stated Villar.
“ This kind of weapon doesn’ t exist within Cuba, ” added Col. Ramiro Ramí rez Alvarez, chief associated with diplomatic security at Cuba’ h Interior Ministry. “ The United States may be the first one that would have this type of factor. They’ re made there; they’ re sold there. ”
A long-range acoustic gadget (LRAD), a type of sound blaster that will emits sound in the 145-151 decibel range, has been used in the Oughout. S. for crowd control in addition to internationally to repel Somali buccaneers and in war situations. Such audio canons are quite large. Smaller devices sold as ultrasonic sound power generators, or cannons that emit chevy sonic blasts, are advertised on the internet because devices to scare away annoying wildlife.
If some form of advanced, classified weapon — one which could specifically direct sound surf from a distance — is mixed up in alleged attacks, it might further confuse the investigations. Cuba wouldn’ big t want the United States to know it has entry to such a covert device and Wa wouldn’ t admit it in order to Havana either.
“ We’ re not real interested in providing the perpetrators of this lots of knowledge about what they’ ve carried out, ” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told The Associated Push in January.
The particular U. S. government has stopped short of saying the particular Cuban government is behind the particular incidents, but it does hold regulators on the island responsible for failing to guard its diplomats — a obligation of a host government under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
Much of what the American open public knows about the case has come from leakages to the media.
“ Why do these leaks towards the press continue? ” asked Valdé s Sosa. “ Obviously somebody is interested in keeping the accusations alive. ”
Diplomats began confirming headaches, dizziness, hearing problems plus ear pain in December 2016 plus January 2017, Dr . Charles Rosenfarb, director of the Department of State’ s Bureau of Medical Solutions, said at a Senate subcommittee listening to in January.
As soon as November 2016, some diplomats mentioned they heard strange sounds within their homes that accompanied the starting point of symptoms.
A few described “ a high-pitched light beam of sound, a “ confusing sensation” similar to driving in a vehicle with the windows partially open, or even intense pressure in one ear, mentioned Rosenfarb.
The Cuban investigative team said security plus protection — both visible plus invisible — have been stepped upward at the U. S. Embassy plus 42 diplomatic homes. The Cubans are continuing their investigation, as well as the team said it is close to submitting a scientific summary of its function.
Later incidents had been reported at the Capri and Nacional hotels in Havana. Cuban researchers said those reports involved area No . 823 at the Nacional. It provides an expansive view of the ocean and is outfitted with two dual beds, two rocking chairs, large drapes, a Samsung television, the capsule coffee maker, a mini-bar and also a closet safe.
The two areas at the Capri are on the fifteenth and 17th floors. After looking at them out and finding absolutely nothing suspicious, the rooms at both Capri and Nacional were came back to the hotels’ inventory and are right now being rented to guests, the particular Cuban investigators said. They find the Nacional as the site for their job interview with the Herald.
The 2 hotels are included in the State Department’ s most recent travel advisory regarding Cuba . Because diplomats’ “ safety is at risk, and we cannot identify the source of the attacks, we all believe U. S. citizens can also be at risk, ” the advisory mentioned.
Cuban investigators state they are absolutely serious about trying to find exactly what could have caused the range of signs and symptoms reported by the United States and to evaluate if any criminal activity was included. Acts against the diplomatic corps plus chiefs of mission are severe crimes in Cuba with hard penalties, said Lt. Col. Roberto Herná ndez Caballero, a lawbreaker investigator in the Interior Ministry.
However , without access to the affected diplomats that have returned to the United States, Villar mentioned, all that Cuban doctors had to work together with was a document from the American physicians who had seen them. It had been a synopsis of the ailments experienced by the diplomats.
This did not include audiograms, MRIs, kitty scans or a statistical summary or even tables indicating how many of the signs and symptoms each patient had, said Valdé s Sosa, of the Cuban Middle for Neuroscience.
Record of symptoms, said Villar, can respond to a number of different illnesses, including internal ear infections, hypertension, epilepsy, degree of toxicity by drugs or alcohol, diabetes, cancer and other ailments.
Here’ s a look at the Cubans’ take on some of the theories:
Auditory or sonic attacks
“ When we talked about these types of so-called sonic attacks for the first time, I have to confess that I thought it was technology fiction, ” said Villar.
Cuban investigators said the particular FBI shared 14 recordings, evidently made on cellphones, from diplomatic residences.
The Cuban criminal investigators complained that the songs arrived without information about where these were recorded and under what conditions. After listening to them, the Cuban investigators said they were able to match up some to ambient sounds in the region around the Playa and Siboney communities where many of the U. S. diplomats lived.
Herná ndez said more than 200 Cubans whom lived near the diplomats were analyzed to see whether they exhibited similar signs and symptoms. Four showed hearing loss. 2 cases were due to chronic hearing ailments, one to exposure to artillery fireplace, and the other to industrial direct exposure, according to the investigators.
“ It’ s impossible to generate the kind of energy that would cause these problems [to the diplomats] without impacting other people, ” said Lt. Col. José Alazo Rangel, a lawbreaker specialist in the Interior Ministry.
“ None of the [sound] samples exceeded 74. 6 decibels, ” said Villar. In Cuba, environmental noise more than 80 decibels is considered unacceptable at work.
The Cuban evaluation of the recordings revealed a number of noises — female crickets, other bugs, nocturnal birds, traffic noise, a good air conditioner, a human voice — but none that would put individual health in danger, said Alazo.
If sonic waves were existing, they would distort ambient sounds in the recordings to the point where cricket along with other sounds would be unidentifiable, Alazo mentioned. Investigators captured crickets near the diplomats’ homes and taped their high-pitched sound to compare with those noticed on the recordings.
Once the FBI was in Cuba, Ramí rez said he asked agents the actual would do if they were within Cuban shoes. “ I requested what we were missing. They said they might have done the same, or maybe a little much less. ”
Infrasound plus ultrasound
Investigators mentioned infrasound, or sub-sonic sound lacking for the human ear to hear, will produce vibration. But it is hard to immediate and would be expected to affect other people — neighbors, spouses, and domestic pets. Ultrasound, with frequencies too high-pitched to hear, can be concentrated better however it would have to be very close to the victim to cause damage.
Also puzzling is why any kind of sound wave would affect just diplomats in certain rooms of their houses. Investigators said they haven’ capital t been able to check the possibility of whether a few damaging device might have been installed within diplomatic homes because they’ ve only been permitted to get into three of the residences.
“ I personally listened to the fourteen recordings and had them turned up towards the maximum level, ” said Villar. “ Well, here I am. You don’t think it’ s possible to utilize a cellphone to record acoustic hostility? ”
Cuban investigators state they need to do more work on regardless of whether stress caused by deteriorating U. T. -Cuba relations under Trump might have damaged the diplomats’ health. However they haven’ t ruled out mass hysteria even though the U. S. has disparaged it.
During the United states senate hearing, Rosenfarb said that U. T. findings “ suggest this is not a good episode of mass hysteria. ” The U. S. consensus at this time, he said, is that the injuries “ were most likely related to trauma from the non-natural source. ”
The Cubans said among the problems that would have contributed to psychosomatic illness and mass hysteria had been that all the diplomats worked within the same place and were coping with the uncertainty of U. S i9000. policy change toward Cuba. The particular U. S. government’ s utilization of terms such as sonic weapons, assaults and victims could have increased stress and anxiety, Cuban investigators said.
“ I think some of them did obtain sick — for diverse factors, ” said Valdé s Sosa. “ But tension and the modify in relations between the two nations could exacerbate their illnesses. ”
What about the Canadians?
Several Canadian diplomats and family members reported the starting point of symptoms similar to ones experienced by the Americans. They, too, had been reported to have occurred at diplomatic residences.
Little continues to be released about the Canadian cases. Ramí rez said the Canadian analysis has been characterized by cooperation and swap.
Valdé s Sosa said the Canadian complaints furthermore could be the product of mass hysteria. “ They’ re all diplomats; they speak the same language and they don’t stop talking with the Americans, ” he stated.
Cuban investigators mentioned they had received no reports associated with similar health symptoms affecting diplomats at other embassies.
A virus or toxin
Valdé s Sosa mentioned neither a virus, which would be anticipated to spread to those beyond the particular American diplomatic corps, nor the toxin, which would not be expected to create such a variety of symptoms, seems credible.
There has been no shortage associated with theories about who might be accountable for the diplomats’ health problems: a planned attack by a third-party trying to disrupt U. S. -Cuba relations, the rogue element in the Cuban govt not pleased with the rapprochement, or even a Cuban surveillance attempt gone incorrect.
Some in the United States, which includes Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, insist that in a tightly-controlled nation like Cuba, not only must the federal government know what caused the mysterious occurrences but also who is responsible.
“ People were hurt as well as the Cuban government knows who made it happen. They just won’t say — for some reason, ” Rubio said in a Jan. 9 Senate subcommittee listening to that he called to gather information on their state Department’ s response to the episodes.
Cuba has undoubtedly rejected the idea that it could be behind any kind of attacks. “ Why would we all do that when we’ re along the way of trying to normalize relations? ” asked Ramí rez.
Cuba watchers have suggested that will Russia or China might have desired to interrupt the rapprochement that started on Dec. 17, 2014, beneath the Obama administration. To that, Ramí rez provides another possibility: “ It could be the federal government of the United States itself — using the occurrences as a pretext to reduce embassy employees. ”