Suspected 'sonic attack:' US mulls closing embassy in Cuba
The US is considering closing down its embassy in Havana after several diplomatic staff reported health problems. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the matter is "under evaluation." Washington speculates that symptoms, including headaches and hearing loss among at least 20 diplomats, were caused by a Cuban "sonic attack." Here's more on the interesting turn of events.
Context: US-Cuba relations under the Trump presidency
The US embassy in Havana was opened in 2015 as a part of Obama administration's policy to thaw frozen relations with Cuba. President Trump had recently announced a partial rollback of Obama's Cuba policy, although he had stated he wouldn't close the embassy in Havana.
US and Canadian diplomats in Cuba suffer headaches/hearing loss
In early August, US and Canadian diplomats in Havana reported experiencing strange physical symptoms. US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauers said the US staff reportedly started complaining about the symptoms in late 2016. The diplomats reportedly may have been targeted by a covert sonic device causing hearing loss, an allegation Cuba rejected. America retaliated by expelling two Cuban diplomats from Washington, DC.
What were these mysterious symptoms?
Tillerson termed the symptoms experienced by diplomats, "a very serious issue with respect to the harm that certain individuals have suffered." These mysterious symptoms ranged from nausea, dizziness, headaches and hearing loss to even mild brain trauma.
What may have caused the strange symptoms?
Investigations carried out by the FBI, Canadian and Cuban authorities haven't been able to fully explain the causes behind these symptoms. An American investigation found that sonic devices placed emitting inaudible sound waves, placed inside or outside of the diplomats' residences may have caused hearing loss. Investigators also speculate that a third country, such as Russia, may be responsible for these incidents.
Cuba denies involvement
President Raul Castro personally assured the US officials that Cuba wasn't involved in any way. A statement from the Cuban foreign ministry stated, "Cuba would never allow the Cuban territory to be used for any kind of action against accredited diplomats or their families."