Western Hemisphere

Recent Case of Havana Syndrome Baffles Scientists, Cuba Regime Downplays

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a study earlier this month purportedly documenting another case of Havana Syndrome, a Canadian tourist. A 69-year-old woman was returning from a vacation in the island gulag had to be treated at a hospital upon arrival in Canada. Her symptoms included neurological impairments similar to those suffered in mid-2016 by several American diplomats posted in Havana.

Cuban regime officials in Canada discounted the study and said “Cuba has been and continues to be a safe destination for tourists from all over the world, including Canadians, who have historically shown their preference for an island that offers them, not only natural beauties, a rich culture and a warm and welcoming people, but safety.” These are the same people who mocked American diplomats and the Trump administration when the reports first surfaced about the incidents. One regime official even said cicadas may be the cause of the problem.

In this latest alleged Havana Syndrome incident, according to a CTV news report “[a]t a checkup five months after she was first hospitalized, it was found that she had lasting neurological effects. She reported experiencing anorexia, and that she had lost 18 kilograms. She had “daily headaches, insomnia, impaired concentration and memory, tinnitus, and unsteadiness” and frequently had numbness in her hands. She had less attention span, executive function, and memory.” In one of the news accounts, the writer speculated that some sort of fertilizer may have found its way onto food the Canadian tourist purchased at the airport.

Based on public media sources, it appears that American diplomats were exposed to something in Cuba starting in mid- to late 2016, the same year that the United States and Cuba re-established diplomatic relations. Communist Party of Cuba leaders has denied that anyone in Cuba intentionally did anything to hurt American diplomats or anyone else for that matter.

In this latest round of studies, stories, or disinformation on Havana Syndrome, the organophosphate (OP) pesticide theory has surfaced again. According to experts, OP is a compound used in chemical weapons. If you want to do some research on this, read a Centers for Disease Control website site for starters. The CDC created the guidance a few years ago to “enable health care workers and public health officials to recognize an unknown or suspected exposure to a nerve agent or an organophosphate (OP) pesticide. Nerve agents are chemical warfare agents that have the same mechanism of action as OP organophosphate pesticides insecticides.”

President Donald Trump has said “Cuba’s responsible. I do believe that,” however, neither he or his officials have elaborated in detail about what happened. Several State Department officials characterized the incidents as attacks, but they have not elaborated. If it turns out to be an attack by Cuba, Cuba must be held to account in some manner. One thing is certain, Cuba is a police state and something of this magnitude does not happen unless senior-level intelligence and Communist Party officials approved it.

If this turns out to be a listening operation gone bad or done without the approval of the higher-ups, regime officials will cover it up. Why? Was it a chemical attack against Americans, kind of what the Russians do to their opposition leaders? Something else? Is it really safe for Americans to travel to Cuba? Americans need to know and, if this was an attack, the injured Americans deserve justice.

For starters, for all their anti-American bluster in the media, Cubans are scared to death of the United States government. Communist Party officials know someone in their ranks will be held to account, especially with this administration at the helm of the executive branch. It will not be a repeat of the 1996 Brothers to Rescue attack and murder of American citizens when, in essence, the Clinton administration gave a free pass to the Cuban Communist Party, the intelligence services, and the military.

Talking about the military, was the military involved? How about foreigners and close Cuban allies such as the Russians, Chinese, Iranians, or North Koreans? Cuban state-run media continues to mock the incidents, and Cuban regime officials deny they did anything wrong. Is this recent alleged case of Havana Syndrome tied to the events that resulted in injuries to American diplomats? Who knows, but it declassifying U.S. cables and other information about this matter would be an excellent place to start and that is what Mark Zaid, the lawyer for several of the American diplomats, has asked the State Department to do.