Partial deafness, dizziness, mental confusion, dizziness and memory disorders. These are some of the health problems of about 14 Canadians – among members of the diplomatic corps and their families – posted in Cuba, between November 2016 and August 2017, in most cases. These ailments, whose origins remain a mystery, also affected 26 Americans.
It is already known as the & # 39; Havana syndrome & # 39; and according to the sources of the research cited by the American press, these health problems could be due to attacks with electromagnetic weapons or devices that emit acoustic waves. On this last point, some of the victims have indicated that they heard strange noises in their homes. An audio recording, made by American diplomatic staff and broadcast by the Associated Press (AP), contained a sharp buzz. However, researchers from the University of Berkeley (United States) and Lincoln (United Kingdom) concluded that it was the song of a sort of Antillean cricket.
Like the FBI, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police traveled to Havana to investigate the incidents. The Cuban government has opened its own investigations and emphasizes that it has nothing to do with any plan to produce these health problems. It also categorically denies that it has allowed a third country to act on its territory to commit an attack on diplomats. In this sea of assumptions hypotheses have emerged about the responsibility of hard sectors of the regime or of countries with close ties to Cuba, but rivals of the United States. In this context, there is a big question why Canadian diplomats also had health problems.
In September 2017, Washington decided to withdraw all non-essential staff and their families from the embassy in Cuba. Ottawa reported in April 2018 that the families of members of the foreign service appointed in Havana would do the same. At the end of January, Canada announced that the number of civil servants in its embassy would be reduced by 50%. Some Canadian diplomats affected by the alleged attacks are of the opinion that the performance of their government 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 demand Ottawa 28 million Canadian dollars (about 21 million US dollars, 18.5 million euros) because they have not been warned about the health risks associated with the work on the island, they were not repatriated when they started symptoms to show and not. They received sufficient medical attention when they returned to Canada.
The CBC network interviewed a number of these claimants on condition of anonymity. "My wife is no longer the same, he has memory problems, headaches, hearing problems, he picks up the phone to make a phone call and after he does not remember the reason, he goes into a room without knowing why, he can not concentrate anymore "said one of the diplomats. Another, suffering from excessive fatigue and migraine, showed his anger when he noticed that Ottawa was already aware of the health problems of the Canadians in Cuba, but that it took too long to take measures to return to their country. , unlike the US.
Canadians who suffered from brain damage during their stay in Havana receive attention at the Brain Research Institute of the University of Ottawa and at the Center for the treatment of brain damage at the University of Dalhousie, Nova Scotia. However, in the lawsuit it is stated that some of these people initially had to seek help from the University of Pennsylvania, where they investigated the American diplomats who had undergone these attacks.
Chrystia Freeland, the Canadian foreign minister, spoke Wednesday about the lawsuit filed by diplomats during a visit to Washington. "The main concern of the Government of Canada is the health and safety of our diplomats and their families," he said. The minister said she had met some of the affected diplomats a few days before Christmas to hear their testimony. Regarding accusations that Canada had waited too long to repatriate its citizens and criticize the way it dealt with this problem, Freeland replied: "As I said, the health and safety of our diplomats are a priority. measures taken to protect diplomats in Cuba, "with regard to the reduction of embassy staff. A judge must study the lawsuit of Canadians and decide whether he wants to admit it. Meanwhile, the origin of the so-called "Havana syndrome" remains a mystery.