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cuba mystery illness


A group of 14 Canadian diplomats along with their families is suing the government for C$28 million ($21.1 million) after they succumbed to a mysterious illness in Cuba.

The group says the Canadian government took too long to warn, evacuate and treat them.

In 2018, Canadian and US officials were recalled from Cuba after complaining of dizziness and migraines.

The cause of the illness is unknown, but Canada has discounted the idea of a “sonic attack” on its embassy.

In a statement, the group said: “Throughout the crisis, Canada downplayed the seriousness of the situation, hoarded and concealed critical health and safety information, and gave false, misleading and incomplete information to diplomatic staff.”

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According to CBC, staff at the Canadian embassy began experiencing symptoms of the so-called “Havana syndrome” in spring 2017.

Several families were subsequently moved from Cuba, but until April 2018 Canada continued to post new staff to Havana despite warnings from US counterparts who had received similar complaints.

The US withdrew most of its non-essential personnel from Cuba in September 2017 and said 21 embassy employees had been affected.

Last month, Canada said it would be cutting its embassy staff by up to half.

At a news conference in Washington, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said she was aware of the lawsuit.

She said: “I am not going to comment on the specifics, but I do want to reiterate that I have met with some of these diplomats and, as I said to them, their health and safety needs to be our priority.”

Cuba has repeatedly denied any involvement in the incident.

Cuba’s Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodriguez, said US claims were a “political manipulation” aimed at damaging bilateral relations.


Several American officials have been removed from China over fears they have contracted the same mysterious illness that affected staff in Cuba.

The US employees, who were working in the southern city of Guangzhou, had reported hearing odd noises.

In 2017, twenty four US staff working at the Cuba embassy suffered brain injuries after reporting “auditory sensations”.

The incidents have raised concerns that a government or agency may be targeting the US with a new type of sonic weapon.

The cases come at a time when China-US relations have been strained amid fears of a trade war.

This month, the State Department issued a health warning to its staff saying an employee in China had reported “subtle and vague, but abnormal, sensations of sound and pressure”.

Image source Pixabay

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The State Department said it was taking the reports seriously, but did not yet know the cause, and warned staff to move to a safe place if they encountered any “unusual acute auditory or sensory phenomena accompanied by unusual sounds or piercing noises”.

One US official was diagnosed with mild brain trauma, the same injury that affected the Cuban embassy staff.

The State Department has warned that US diplomats should alert their mission’s medical staff “if they note new onset of symptoms that may have begun in association with experiencing unidentified auditory sensations”.

It said it had sent a team to Guangzhou and set up a task force to oversee the response to the mystery attacks in China and Cuba.

Cuba has denied targeting embassy staff, and the US has not blamed the country’s government for the suspected attacks.

According to specialists, symptoms of a sonic attack may include dizziness, headaches, vomiting, bowel spasms, vertigo, permanent hearing loss and even brain damage.

At least one of Canada’s diplomats stationed in Cuba was treated for hearing loss and headaches, the country’s foreign ministry says.

The announcement comes a day after the US said its diplomats in Havana were experiencing strange physical symptoms.

Reports suggest the diplomats could have been targeted by a covert sonic device that causes hearing loss.

Cuba denies the allegation, but the US has removed two Cuban diplomats from Washington DC in retaliation.

Cuba’s foreign ministry responded: “Cuba has never, nor would ever, allow the Cuban territory to be used for any kind of action against accredited diplomats or their families.”

Global Affairs Canada, the country’s foreign ministry, says the government is working with US and Cuban officials to find out what happened.

The Associated Press reported that a US investigation determined that the US diplomats’ hearing loss could have been linked to sonic devices which emit inaudible sound waves that can cause deafness.

Image source Wikimedia

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US officials, speaking to the agency anonymously, said investigations had determined devices had been deployed either inside or outside diplomats’ homes.

Investigators are also considering the possibility that a third country, such as Russia, was behind the incidents, officials familiar with the inquiry told AP.

According to US officials, about five diplomats, including some spouses, had been affected, but no children were involved.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauer said staff began complaining of the strange symptoms late last year.

While they were not life-threatening, she revealed that a number of people had been brought home to the US as a result.

The US and Cuba only re-established ties in 2015, following 50 years of hostilities between the two countries.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio said the alleged incidents were just the latest examples of harassment toward US diplomats in Cuba.

“Personal harm to US officials shows the extent the Castro regime will go and clearly violates international norms,” the senator said.

If true, the use of sonic devices to cause harm to diplomats would be unprecedented.