Jason I. Poblete

Havana Syndrome Perpetrators Must Be Held to Account, Victims Provided the Help they Need

The Cubans knew; now they have no clue. The Russians, the Chinese, or maybe even the North Koreans, heck, perhaps the Iranians. Just about rogue or rube has been roped in by reporters, policy experts, and conspiracy theorists to explain Havana syndrome’s cause. Yet, the focus must remain on what is known, particularly Cuba and Cuba’s Ministry of Intelligence (MININT) and a few other characters in Cuba who have shunned the limelight for decades.

Cuban officials have waxed many a tall tale too. Raul Castro staged a media stunt at a cemetery with audiologists, as if to mock Uncle Sam, lauding Cuba’s advances in “hearing.” The video has been taken down, by the way. At one point, cicadas were the culprit. And regime officials, including Cuba’s current emissary to Canada, have also said a pollutant was to blame.

The men and women who have been affected by these incidents – I have never called the incidents sonic attacks since I am in no position to know for certain – are still coping with the fallout and likely will do so for the rest of their lives. They need answers and medical care. According to former intelligence officials that I have talked to about the cases these folks will likely have life-long health issues.

According to a recent GQ story “many of the State Department staffers affected in Cuba and China are still disabled. Some are wheelchair-bound; others have to wear weighted vests for the rest of their lives to correct their balance. Many have had to retire prematurely.” If this is accurate, where is Congress on this and what steps were taken by the State Department to take care of their own?

If these injuries are the result of deliberate or negligent acts, the perpetrators must be held to account. America must hold to account whoever did this in China, Cuba, Russia, and now it appears there have been similar incidents against Americans in Taiwan, Australia, Poland, Georgia, and in the United States, including right here in Arlington, Virginia.

The one nagging question I’ve had about the incidents that started in mid to late 2016 that no one in a position of authority has yet to answer: what steps were taken to prevent these incidents, to begin with? The United State re-established diplomatic relations after more than a generation.

We went, essential, from zero to 100% in a few months, perhaps a year. I doubt all senior regime officials were eager to have us back in Havana full-time, nor other U.S. adversaries that use the Caribbeans perch to meddle in our business. Who helped State Department officials pick out housing for diplomats in Havana? What steps were taken to ensure security at these homes? Did the Cubans share the home listings with America’s adversaries? Cuba is an important detail, not some sleepy backwater assignment.

The Trump administration has had several years to deal with this matter, but it’s all crickets from American policymakers. Meanwhile, the victims struggle to find answers for their ailments, and we are no closer to holding to account those who did this.

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