Partial deafness, dizziness, mental confusion, dizziness and memory disorders. These are some of the health problems experienced by about 14 Canadians – members of the diplomatic corps and their families – sent to Cuba, between November 2016 and August 2017, in most cases. These ills, whose origin remains a mystery, have also affected 26 Americans.
Already known as the "syndrome of L & # 39; Havana", these health problems could be due, according to sources of the investigation cited in the US press, to attacks with electromagnetic weapons or devices that emit acoustic waves. On this last point, some of those affected indicated that they heard strange sounds in their residences. An audio recording, produced by the US diplomatic staff and broadcast by the Associated Press (AP), contained a strong buzz. However, researchers from the University of Berkeley (United States) and Lincoln (United Kingdom) concluded that it was the song of a species of cricket from the Antilles.
Like the FBI, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police traveled to Havana to investigate incidents. The Cuban government has opened its investigations and pointed out that it has nothing to do with any plan for the production of these health problems. He also categorically denies having allowed a third country to act on his territory to perpetrate an attack on diplomats. In this sea of assumptions, hypotheses emerged about the responsibility of difficult sectors of the regime or of countries with close ties with Cuba, but rivals of the United States. In this regard, a big question is why Canadian diplomats have also presented health problems.
In September 2017, Washington decided to withdraw all non-essential personnel and their families from its embassy in Cuba. Ottawa reported in April 2018 that the families of foreign service members assigned to Havana would do the same. At the end of January, Canada announced that the number of officials in its embassy would be reduced by 50%. Some Canadian diplomats hit by alleged attacks believe that their government's performance has been disappointing.
On Wednesday, a federal court in Canada received a lawsuit from five diplomats and several members of their families living in Cuba. They ask Ottawa 28 million Canadian dollars (about $ 21 million, 18.5 million) because they do not they were advised of the health risks associated with work on the island, were not returned when they started to show symptoms and did not receive adequate medical care when they returned to Canada.
The CBC network interviewed some of these plaintiffs on condition of anonymity. "My wife is no longer the same, she has memory problems, headaches, hearing difficulties, she picks up the phone to call, and after she no longer remembers why, she goes into a room without knowing why, she can not concentrate anymore. ", said one of the diplomats. Another, suffering from excessive fatigue and migraine, expressed his anger when he commented that Ottawa was already aware of the health problems of Canadians in Cuba, but that it took too long to take measures to return to their country, to United States difference.
Canadians who suffered brain damage during their stay in Havana receive attention at the Brain Research Institute of the University of Ottawa and at the Brain Injury Treatment Center at the University of Dalhousie, Nova Scotia. However, the case claims that some of these people initially had to seek help, on their own, from the University of Pennsylvania, where they examined US diplomats who suffered these attacks.
Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland spoke Wednesday on a lawsuit brought by diplomats during a visit to Washington. "The main concern of the Canadian government is the health and safety of our diplomats and their families," he said. The minister said that, a few days before Christmas, he had met with some diplomats struck to hear their testimonies. Regarding the allegations that Canada has waited too long to repatriate its citizens and criticize the way it has managed this problem, Freeland replied: "As I said, the health and safety of our diplomats are a priority. taken measures to protect the diplomats in Cuba a few days ago ", referring to the reduction of the embassy staff. A judge must study the cause of Canadians and decide whether to admit it. Meanwhile, the origin of the so-called "syndrome of L & # 39; Havana" remains a mystery.