The diplomatic community in Cuba, especially in the United States Embassy, may be admitting a new standard of ‘ normality ‘ with Cuban counterintelligence if it ignores the serious damage to the health of about a dozen diplomatic officials and their families.
The diagnoses of what happened to these diplomats – according to the official statement from the Association of Foreign Service (AFSA)- includes mild traumatic brain injury and permanent loss of hearing, with additional symptoms such as” loss of balance, severe headaches, cognitive gaps and inflammation of the brain”.
AFSA, apparently uncomfortable by the official silence kept regarding the health of its members, expressed concern about the “sonic harassment” reported against U.S. diplomatic personnel and their families at the Embassy of the USA in Havana.
But not only was the U.S. personnel affected. An undetermined number of Canadian diplomats were also victims of the “sonic harassment” referred by AFSA.
The incidents began immediately after the US elections on November 2016 and the most recent took place this past month of August 2017 . The only reaction from the Trump administration have been the expulsion – without much noise – of two persons accredited as Cuban diplomats in Washington.
The present State Department of Rex Tillerson and Thomas A. Shannon Jr., basically avoided discussions on the issue until the media brought it to light. Since then, it has exonerated the Cuban Government of responsibility for what has happened giving credibility to the fantasy that the so-called sonic harassment could be caused by someone external to the host Government of the diplomatic seat.
“The Cuban authorities are responsible for discovering who carried out these attacks of health” said Secretary Tillerson. This is pathetic. In other words: it’s the responsibility of the thief to find out who carried out the theft.
A set of final factors shredded the thesis of a third party. US diplomats in Cuba are subject to a comprehensive 24 hours/ 7 days a week surveillance . This involves – among other things – hidden microphones, bugged phones, photographs, one to three tracking cars allocated to each of them and fixed points of observation of their homes located in nearby buildings. Their houses are owned by the Cuban State. The Cuban personnel working at the Embassy and at their place of residence are supplied by a Cuban Government “employment agency”.
Under these circumstances it is impossible for someone to perform that sonic “harassment” against so many residences without being detected by the surveillance teams of the Cuban G-2 It is also impossible that the ultrasound equipment operators have not noticed over nearly 9 months that they were causing physical damage to those officials, their wives and children. Tillerson and Shannon know it. Then, why give runway to the fanciful version provided by the Cuban Government that a third actor was responsible for this villainy? Why accept these “attacks against the health” of US diplomats as a new normal that may not bring grave consequences?
To spy on diplomats from a hostile power is a long standing universal practice. But to do so using techniques that put at risk their physical integrity is not. Looking elsewhere or give a light response to the perpetrators that these things are happening will bring bad consequences.
Today it’s “sonic harassment”, tomorrow they may be car accidents, or violent assaults by “common criminals” and other gruesome measures that are the specialty of these security police forces trained by the KGB and the STASI.
If Secretary Rex Tillerson and Sub Secretary Thomas Shannon, who actually directed the Latin American policy of the Department of State, ignores the Cuban part in this problem then the White House, the CIA and the United States Congress should take this issue in their hands.
If what happened becomes a “new normal” other American families are going to regret it in the future. This is a dangerous and short-sighted accomodation of new Cuban Counterintelligence practices that are propitiated once again by those ideologues of appeasement who still the share the building of the Secretariat of State at Foggy Bottom.