We cannot begin this story without mentioning just how much excitement we have felt about sharing this story with you, dear reader. After all, half of this pear is Cuban.
This unsolved case has a bit of all things that make true crime fans get excited. From intrigue, CIA, alleged secret government agendas, an unexplained illness to perhaps the most important thing of all; a mystery.
Although not originally from Havana, I grew up visiting the capital that never sleeps. The ocean waves crash on “El Malecon” as the sound of guitars and Guaguanco tempt you to reject the prospects of sleep. The smell of Tabaco mixes in with night air and rum. It is like visiting an island that refuses to move alongside time. Forever stuck in the same place, eternally dancing and working alongside a beaming sun and insistent drum.
Unfortunately, knowing Cuba means being painfully aware of the political game played between it and its American neighbor.
This story took place in December 2016 at a time when tensions were high pending the win of the Trump administration and their outspokenness to cut the friendly ties arranged by their predecessor with the Cuban government.
One morning, a day that would have perhaps been regarded as just like many others. A CIA agent reported to the health office of the American embassy in Havana complaining of dizziness, nausea, and headaches. The reports began pouring in; all patients felt something pressing or vibrating around them. Many complained of hearing noises just before the symptoms appeared, leading some to suspect they had been exposed to a high-intensity burst of energy or sound waves. These noises lasted from 20 seconds to 30 minutes and happened while the diplomats were either at home or in hotel rooms.
Quickly, Canadians started reporting the same symptoms to the Canadian embassy. Suddenly, it wasn’t just a few agents but their families and children complaining of the same ailments. All symptoms seemed to originate from contact with the embassies and occurred in homes or hotels near its vicinity.
The only question coming from Washington was; was this an attack from the Cuban government?
Well, to no one’s surprise after the incident was made public, the Cuban foreign minister accused the U.S. of lying about the incident and denied Cuban involvement in or knowledge of the cause of the health problems the diplomats experienced. They did; however, offer to cooperate with the U.S. in an investigation of the incidents. About 2,000 scientists and law enforcement officers were employed; they interviewed 300 neighbors of diplomats, examined two hotels, and medically examined non-diplomats who could have been exposed. Cuban officials stated they had analyzed air and soil samples and considered a range of toxic chemicals. They also examined the possibility that electromagnetic waves and even looked into whether insects could be the culprit. Despite their alleged extensive investigation, they found nothing they could link to the claimed medical symptoms.
The FBI and Cuban authorities met to discuss the situation; the Cubans stated that the U.S. neither agreed to share the diplomats’ medical records with Cuban authorities nor allowed Cuban investigators access to U.S. diplomats’ homes to conduct tests. Then again, would you allow a potential suspect into your home even if it could exonerate them when they could also be doing a clean-up?
Washington began a mass evacuation of their personal from the island and suspicions that had last existed during the cold war, returned stronger than ever. Travel to Cuba was highly discouraged and eventually, Cuban personal in the Cuban embassy in the United States were asked to leave.
With such mass, fear is no surprise that reports and researchers began to race for an explanation. Theories of the illness being caused by the mating call of a Caribbean cricket was proposed by researchers at the University of California, Berkley.
In 2018, the University of Pennsylvania reported that brain scans performed on 21 former US Cuba-based staff who’d experienced the neurological symptoms showed no significant abnormalities.
Finally, in December 2020 an expert committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine suggested that microwave energy (specifically, directed pulsed RF energy was the most “plausible mechanism in explaining these cases among those that the committee considered” but that “each possible cause remains speculative”.
The mystery continued, each theory while logical eventually admitted there were still unknown factors.
Now, to our conspiracy theorist. It is perhaps important to note that the microwave theory is perhaps the most logical if this was a Cuban government secret attack. You see, Russia has a well-documented history dating back to Josef Stalin of using microwaves against the U.S. to disrupt intelligence operations. Private companies sell weapons systems that use directed energy to knock out drones. What if the relations with Cuba and its old communist brother country are not as dead as we have been led to believe. It is plausible that the Cuban government after decades with no one in the American embassy felt a little too watched and decided a forced evacuation was needed.
In response to Havana syndrome, U.S. Senator Susan Collins introduced a bill (S. 1828), co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of nine other senators, that would close a loophole in the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act that would normally not cover damage to organs such as the brain and heart. The bill unanimously passed the House on a 427–0 vote, passed the Senate by unanimous consent, and was signed into law by President Joe Biden on October 8, 2021, becoming Public Law №117–46.
As you can read, this mystery has far too many factors to truly get the satisfaction of knowing you have fully solved the case. Nevertheless, do not lose hope, we may be closer to a breakthrough. With the Pentagon recently releasing a significant amount of UFO information. The Senate Intelligence Committee leadership (chairman Mark Warner and vice-chairman Marco Rubio) said in 2021 that it was working with CIA director William Joseph Burns and the CIA in connection with the investigation. They stated that “[they had] already held fact-finding hearings on these debilitating attacks, many of which [resulted] in medically confirmed cases of Traumatic Brain Injury, and will [continue to] do more.”
In September 2021, CIA Deputy Director David S. Cohen said that the investigation had “gotten closer” to deciding, “but not close enough to make the analytic judgment that people are waiting for.”
So there you have it dear reader, The infamous Havana Syndrome. Regardless, of whether you consider this part of a secret agenda or perhaps a scientific mystery, one cannot deny it is a true head-scratcher. We hope this mystery doesn’t stay unsolved for much longer, especially, since to date it has affected over 200 CIA agents and countless of their family members…