Photo: Desmond Boylan Associated Press
Tourists pass in a convertible in front of the new u.s. embassy in Havana. Last year, as canadian diplomats, the american employees have complained of”attacks of sound”.
The canadian government is still not able to confirm what has been able to frustrate its diplomats in Cuba and their families, last year. Although Ottawa does not preclude the possibility that these potential “attacks of sound” is the result of a criminal act, the government cannot draw any conclusion on the events that led eight canadian nationals require medical attention.
Confessed a high-ranking official of the federal government, Canada is in uncharted territory. Because neither the Canadians nor the Americans — the only two delegations in Cuba affected by these mysterious symptoms — have already lived such a situation in their missions abroad.
Diplomats of the two countries were reported to have heard sounds or felt any strange symptoms such as dizziness, loss of balance, headaches, insomnia, or bleeding from the nose.
Alerted by the american authorities, whose diplomats had a few reported cases, the canadian government has surveyed its own diplomats in Havana in The month of may last.
Of the twenty families hurried in the cuban capital, ten reported that at least one member of their family — including minors — had felt this kind of unusual symptoms. These ten families gathered twenty-seven persons who underwent an initial battery of tests on canadian soil.
In eight of the cases, follow up tests were needed, but no person needed to be hospitalized and all have resumed their normal activities at the office or at school since, said the high canadian official at a briefing for the media which has been offered under the guise of anonymity.
Only one person would suffer still headaches.
But three families chose to leave Havana to return to Canada — two of which were reported to have been victims of unusual symptoms.
I have not seen this kind of things in any of the missions where I was, the more barbaric the most civilized
Ferry de Kerckhove, former canadian diplomat
Investigation still ongoing
The canadian government, nevertheless, believes that diplomats can continue their work in the cuban capital. The staff of the canadian mission there remain the same. The majority of cases have been reported in the month of may 2017. Two other people have reported each one to have felt the pressure waves in the month of August and the month of December.
The ministry of foreign Affairs, however, is still no explanation for it. The royal Canadian mounted police is conducting the investigation, which assesses in particular whether the symptoms may be psychosomatic, caused by stress or due to environmental causes, such as water or ambient air. Nothing is excluded, confessed to the high canadian official on Wednesday.
The case canadians and americans are also not identical : several Americans have reported to have heard a high-pitched sound that was followed by physical symptoms, but only one Canadian has been reported with the same sequence of events. The majority of the citizens of Canada have rather heard a noise acute or felt strange symptoms, but one of them was not necessarily accompanied by the other.
The former ambassador Ferry de Kerckhove is, however, convinced that these ailments have been caused by an attack acoustic, although the ministry of foreign Affairs refrains from saying, for lack of evidence. Remains to know what was the source.
“When we don’t have a definitive answer [to the ministry], we prefer to leave it more vague than specific. But I’d have trouble believing that this is anything other than attacks sonic, ” said the ex-diplomat to the Duty.
Like the canadian government, it confirms that it is a new form of aggression diplomatic.
“I’ve seen things like this in any of the missions where I’ve been, the most barbarian, as the most civilised “, he recounted, he had been ambassador in Russia, Indonesia, Egypt, and the high commissioner in Pakistan.
No risk for holidaymakers
Any tourist who stayed in Cuba did not report unusual symptoms, according to Ottawa. The government, therefore, has not issued a warning to holidaymakers.
On the side of the United States, 24 u.s. diplomats and their families were reported to have been affected. And 18 tourists claim to have experienced strange symptoms.
The american diplomats and canadians are not housed in the complex diplomatic. The residences of their families are scattered at various places in Havana. This complicates the investigation of the two governments, which are struggling to cross-reference the incidents and their circumstances. The u.s. government has repatriated most of its staff and their relatives in September.