The Havana syndrome is still a mystery

The strange symptoms reported by US diplomatic personnel at various locations around the globe got the name ‘Havana Syndrome’ because it first surfaced in Havana in 2016. They complained of headaches, dizziness, nausea, hearing sounds, and difficulties with thinking and sleep;.

But repeated efforts to try and identify any kind of systematic pattern that might lead to a diagnosis of the cause have come up short, with various alternative theories being postulated ranging from the benign (that the sounds were caused by crickets) to sinister (that the diplomats were being targeted as part of some kind of technological warfare). But none of the theories covered all the cases.
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The Havana Syndrome mystery continues

I remain intrigued by the so-called ‘Havana Syndrome’, the strange affliction reported by some (mostly) US government and embassy officials when they are in other countries. Starting in 2016, these people reported hearing ringing or chirping sounds and headaches and the like. Since the first reports came from US embassy personnel in Havana, people jumped to the conclusion that the Cubans or Russians were trying out some new kind of weapon using targeted microwaves or ultrasound. But that theory always seemed implausible, both for technical and geopolitical reasons.

The US government has devoted considerable effort to try and identify the cause with little success. Now the CIA has issued yet another report that suggests that the ‘foreign power’ theory is not tenable.
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The ‘Havana Syndrome’ was most likely due to crickets

One of the weirdest news stories in recent years has been the so-called ‘Havana Syndrome’ when US embassy personnel in various parts of world, starting in Havana, reported hearing buzzing, having headaches and nausea, and other medical complaints. Aided by US government sources and egged on by anti-Cuban forces, the media quickly assumed that this was caused by a new kind of weapon developed by Cuba or possibly Russia or China.

While this was always far-fetched, Branko Marcetic writes that a secret government study concluded back in 2018 supported one theory that it was psychosomatic and caused by crickets. The cricket theory was postulated by some scientists two years ago but dismissed as preposterous. The new government study was classified and only released this week.
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Sonic attack? Crickets? Insecticide? Update on the Havana mystery

There is a new twist to the long-running saga about the mysterious ailment that struck personnel working at the American and Canadian embassies in Havana, Cuba. Initially the US accused Cuba of using some kind of sonic weapon to attack their diplomats. But this seemed highly implausible, not least because there did not seem to be any evidence that such a weapon existed and it was not clear why the Cuban government, even if it had such a weapon, would do such a thing at a time when they were trying to improve relations with the US.
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The Havana mystery

There was a story that appeared in the news some time ago about a mysterious sound that was supposedly affecting US embassy personnel in Havana and creating such debilitating effects that it resulted in some of them deciding to come back to the US. There were allegations that Cuba was waging some kind of high-tech warfare against the US but the case for that was pretty thin, even allowing for the fact that there would be no motive for them to do so, since they are interested in improving ties with the US.
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Behind the Bolivian coup

Leonardo Flores writes that all manner of reactionary forces were behind the coup that overthrew Bolivian president Evo Morales and they are now targeting the rights of the indigenous people of whom Morales was one as well as members of his party MAS (Movement Towards Socialism).

[Morales’] resignation has yet to take effect, as it must be approved by the legislature. This did not stop opposition party member Jeanine Añez, the senate’s second vice president, from declaring herself interim president, further proving that what’s happened is a coup.

MAS legislators, who have a majority in both chambers, have been unable to attend parliamentary sessions as security forces have not guaranteed their safety.

Currently, indigenous and labor movements are on the streets in several Bolivian cities, demanding that President Morales be reinstated.

Meanwhile, police forces are ripping the Wiphala flag, a symbol that represents the indigenous peoples of the Andes, from their uniforms and from government buildings.

Coup leader Luis Camacho entered the government palace with a Bolivian flag and a bible; upon leaving, one of his supporters, a Christian pastor, declared that “Pachamama will never return to the palace… Bolivia belongs to Christ.” (Pachamama is an Andean goddess representing Mother Earth.)

The coup and its aftermath are not just a rejection of President Morales, but of Bolivia’s indigenous majority and the social gains of the last 13 years.

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The great cricket scare

No, this post is not about my favorite sport. Thanks to a private communication from Marcus Ranum, I became aware of this article that sheds some light on the mysterious affliction that affected US diplomats at its embassy in Havana, Cuba that I had written about before. This had led to all manner of wild speculations of high-tech sonic warfare being waged against the embassy personnel by Cuba, Russia, or China or some combination of those countries. None of those theories made much sense but when did the lack of evidence ever prevent a lot of breathless media speculation, especially when wrapped up in Cold War fears?
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The curious Cuba-China-Russia conspiracy theory promoted by the New York Times

Readers may recall my post from back in February about the mysterious sounds that were causing headaches (literally) to US embassy personnel in Cuba. It led to all manner of speculations about the Cubans themselves unleashing, or allowing some other nation to unleash, some high tech Cold War-type sonar devices on them. The fact that the evidence produced was highly vague and that the Cubans had no motive for doing such things did not stop the wild speculations.
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Cuba responds to US lecture with lecture of its own

I mentioned before that US government officials have the practice when visiting countries that it does not consider allies to give them public lectures on what they must do to improve. While this sounds condescending, it is only so if done selectively. I think it is a practice that should be expanded and every time there is a state visit, the visiting dignitary should take the opportunity to point out all the faults of the host country. Unfortunately, many countries do not seem to want to risk angering the world’s only superpower and thus the US has got used to being the only one giving such lectures.
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