19 American tourists to Cuba report symptoms similar to diplomats

The sickness that affected dozens of US diplomats and their families while stationed in Cuba has also struck American tourists to the island.

In September, the state department withdrew most of the US consular staff after many of them reported sympoms including dizziness, cognitive disability, and trouble sleeping. Some speculated that the symptoms were the result of some kind of sonic attack by the Cuban government on the embassy.

Now, the state department is reporting at least 19 American tourists who visited Cuba have also exibited similar symptoms.

Miami Herald:

“Since September 29, the Department of State has been contacted by 19 U.S. citizens who reported experiencing symptoms similar to those listed in the Travel Warning after visiting Cuba,” a spokesperson for the State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs told the Miami Herald in an email.

“We continue to urge U.S. citizens to reconsider travel to Cuba,” she added.

In late September, the State Department issued a travel warning advising Americans not to travel to Cuba because they could become victims of mysterious attacks such as those suffered by 24 diplomats and their families while they were stationed in Havana. The U.S. also removed most of the staff at its embassy in the Cuban capital.

Among the symptoms described in the travel warning are: “ear complaints and hearing loss, dizziness, headache, fatigue, cognitive issues, and difficulty sleeping.”

In January, the State Department changed the wording and currently recommends “reconsidering” traveling to Cuba. However, officials stressed that the situation on the island had not changed, nor their message to American travelers. The list of possible symptoms remained unchanged in the new travel advisory.

“Because our personnel's safety is at risk, and we are unable to identify the source of the attacks, we believe U.S. citizens may also be at risk,” the latest advisory says. “Attacks have occurred in U.S. diplomatic residences and at Hotel Nacional and Hotel Capri in Havana.”

The State Department did not say whether the U.S. citizens reported hearing strange noises — as some of the 24 diplomats did — nor whether they stayed at the Nacional or Capri hotels. The State Department also did not clarify whether U.S. doctors and investigators have determined that these travelers had suffered the same kind of attacks as the diplomats.

“We are not in a position to medically evaluate or provide individual medical advice,” the spokesperson said. “However, we encourage private U.S. citizens who have traveled to Cuba and are concerned about their symptoms to seek medical attention.”

Are the unknown person or person targeting only Americans? No other foreign diplomats have reported this sickness, nor have other foreign tourists. If it is a man-made sonic device of some kind, it appears from the record that Americans are the target.

But whodunnit? Cuba is vehemently denying responsibility, and while we shouldn't necessarily believe them, they don't appear to have a motive for attacking us, given the economic benefits they receive by a lifting of the embargo. 

Could it be a naturally occuring sound that is sickening our people? That possibility has not been dismissed yet. Think of all the electronic equipment in our embassy. A freak combination of frequencies being emitted might produce a harmful sound. If that sounds like a stretch, it is.

If it is a device of some kind, it is extremely sophisticated. It can apparently narrowly target a building or perhaps individual rooms. It doesn't give away its position easily. And nobody has yet figured out how the sound is generated.

Other government's intelligence agencies may be responsible, although a motive is lacking. Perhaps it's some country like North Korea or Russia who don't like us very much and are targeting Americans out of spite. Whatever the reason, who ever is responsible, and whatever is generating the sound are questions that need to be answered before US diplomats go back to Cuba.