Senior government officials are reporting that the number of U.S. and Canadian diplomats and their families attacked by a sonic weapon in Havana, Cuba is much larger than initially thought. “More than 10 U.S. diplomats and family members received treatment after the months of harassing attacks, which began in mid-November 2016 and stopped this spring.”1 Some of the attacks were “deafeningly loud” sounds while others happened at night while diplomats slept.
“The sophisticated device that operated outside the range of audible sound was deployed either inside or outside the residences of US diplomats living in Havana, according to three US officials.
One official said the employees could have suffered permanent hearing loss as a result.
The employees affected were not at the same place at the same time, but suffered a variety of physical symptoms since late 2016 which resembled concussions.” 2

Although the State Department informed the Cubans and the two governments secretly discussed the issue over the course of several months, neither government has been able to pin down where it came from. However, Cuban officials have taken the attacks seriously.
In fact, this summer, Cuba even allowed FBI agents and members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to travel to Cuba to investigate the attacks. They’ve also increased security around diplomats’ residences. (Foreign diplomats working for the US Embassy in Havana are watched closely by Cuban authorities and are required to rent houses from the Cuban government, forbidden from staying in Cubans’ homes if they travel outside the capital, and are supposed to contract any Cuban employees who work in embassies and diplomats’ homes through the Cuban government.3 )


Two U.S. diplomats had to be flown back to the states to be treated after suffering long-term injuries, which include hearing loss, and others decided to leave their assignments in Cuba early due to the harassment. And in June, five Canadian diplomats and family members reported experiencing symptoms like nausea, headaches and hearing loss.


U.S. officials believe that given the “sophistication of the attack,” a third-party is involved. But, whether they are seeking to pay the U.S. back for something or drive a wedge between the two countries already fragile relations, remains to be seen.

Sources and References

  1. CNN, August 20, 2017.
  2. CNN, August 10, 2017.
  3. CNN, August 20, 2017.