Another Diplomat Was Diagnosed With ‘Havana Syndrome.’ Here’s What We Know. Reply

File picture showing a vintage US car passing in front of the US Embassy in Havana. (Getty Images)

By Amanda Erickson, Washington Post

Last week, another Canadian diplomat was diagnosed with a mysterious disease so weird it’s been referred to in some circles as “the thing.”

The illness afflicts only government employees from the United States and Canada. Sufferers report feeling pulsing or hearing a ringing in their ears. Then headaches, dizziness, trouble concentrating and struggles to remember basic words and facts.

Diplomats have been complaining about “Havana syndrome,” named for the city where nearly all the victims were based, for two years. And it certainly seems like they’ve been targeted by a hostile government or rogue officials. But, though the United States has sent CIA and FBI officials to investigate, we know very little about what’s happening or who’s behind it.

The newest case marks the 13th time a Canadian officer or family member has reported these “unusual health symptoms.” More than 20 Americans have also been affected. In light of this news, the Canadian government has said it will allow all staff posted in the Cuban Embassy to return home “if they wish.”

When was the first case reported?

On Dec. 30, 2016, a CIA agent operating in Cuba stopped by the U.S. Embassy’s health office. According to the New Yorker, the patient described “strange sensations of sound and pressure while in his home, followed by painful headaches and dizziness.” About a week later, the spy was back in the health office, complaining of another attack.

What happened next?

American officials told the New Yorker they weren’t sure how seriously to take things at first. “It’s like serial killers,” one former State Department official said. “It usually takes three or four before police conclude ‘Wait a minute, these are connected.’ ”

Soon, though, the pattern emerged. By February, two more CIA officers reported the same strange sensations. By spring, 16 people had reported symptoms. By the fall, another five Americans were afflicted. The attacks were unusual — some people reported hearing sounds; others said they felt a pulsing, followed by a severe pain. People were afflicted at home, in hotel rooms, in temporary residences several floors above the ground.

Around the same time, some Canadian officials began to report some strange symptoms. A Canadian diplomat and his wife were awakened one night by a feeling of waves of pressure. Their children had nosebleeds. Eventually, as many as 12 Canadians were afflicted by the symptoms.

Feature continues here:  WaPo perspective on Cuban sonic attacks

 

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Washington Tightens Restrictions on Cuban Intelligence, Security & Military Entities Profiting From Visiting Tourists 3

List of Restricted Entities and Subentities Associated With Cuba as of November 15, 2018

Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs
November 15, 2018

Below is the U.S. Department of State’s list of entities and subentities under the control of, or acting for or on behalf of, the Cuban military, intelligence, or security services or personnel with which direct financial transactions would disproportionately benefit such services or personnel at the expense of the Cuban people or private enterprise in Cuba. For information regarding the prohibition on direct financial transactions with these entities, please see the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control website and the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security website. All entities and subentities were listed effective November 9, 2017, unless otherwise indicated.

*** Entities or subentities owned or controlled by another entity or subentity on this list are not treated as restricted unless also specified by name on the list. ***

Ministries
MINFAR — Ministerio de las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias
MININT — Ministerio del Interior

Holding Companies
CIMEX — Corporación CIMEX S.A.
Compañía Turística Habaguanex S.A.
GAESA — Grupo de Administración Empresarial S.A.
Gaviota — Grupo de Turismo Gaviota
UIM — Unión de Industria Militar

Hotels in Havana and Old Havana
Aparthotel Montehabana (Habaguanex)
Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski (Gaviota)
H10 Habana Panorama (Gaviota)
Hostal Valencia (Habaguanex)
Hotel Ambos Mundos (Habaguanex)
Hotel Armadores de Santander (Habaguanex)
Hotel Beltrán de Santa Cruz (Habaguanex)
Hotel Conde de Villanueva (Habaguanex)
Hotel del Tejadillo (Habaguanex)
Hotel el Bosque (Habaguanex)
Hotel el Comendador (Habaguanex)
Hotel el Mesón de la Flota (Habaguanex)
Hotel Florida (Habaguanex)
Hotel Habana 612 (Habaguanex)
Hotel Kohly (Habaguanex)
Hotel Los Frailes (Habaguanex)
Hotel Marqués de Prado Ameno (Habaguanex)
Hotel Palacio del Marqués de San Felipe y Santiago de Bejucal (Habaguanex)
Hotel Palacio O’Farrill (Habaguanex)
Hotel Park View (Habaguanex)
Hotel Raquel (Habaguanex)
Hotel San Miguel (Habaguanex)
Hotel Telégrafo (Habaguanex)
Hotel Terral (Habaguanex)
Iberostar Grand Packard Hotel (Gaviota) Effective November 15, 2018
Memories Miramar Havana (Gaviota)
Memories Miramar Montehabana (Gaviota)
SO/ Havana Paseo del Prado (Gaviota) Effective November 15, 2018

Hotels in Santiago de Cuba
Villa Gaviota Santiago (Gaviota)

Hotels in Varadero
Blau Marina Varadero Resort (Gaviota) (also Fiesta Americana Punta Varadero effective November 15, 2018)
Grand Memories Varadero (Gaviota)
Hotel Las Nubes (Gaviota) Effective November 15, 2018
Hotel Oasis (Gaviota) Effective November 15, 2018
Iberostar Bella Vista (Gaviota) Effective November 15, 2018
Iberostar Laguna Azul (Gaviota)
Iberostar Playa Alameda (Gaviota)
Meliá Marina Varadero (Gaviota)
Meliá Peninsula Varadero (Gaviota)
Memories Varadero (Gaviota)
Naviti Varadero (Gaviota)
Ocean Varadero El Patriarca (Gaviota)
Ocean Vista Azul (Gaviota)
Paradisus Princesa del Mar (Gaviota)
Paradisus Varadero (Gaviota)
Sol Sirenas Coral (Gaviota)

Hotels in Pinar del Rio
Hotel Villa Cabo de San Antonio (Gaviota)
Hotel Villa Maria La Gorda y Centro Internacional de Buceo (Gaviota)

Hotels in Baracoa
Hostal 1511 (Gaviota)
Hostal La Habanera (Gaviota)
Hostal La Rusa (Gaviota)
Hostal Rio Miel (Gaviota)
Hotel El Castillo (Gaviota)
Hotel Porto Santo (Gaviota)
Villa Maguana (Gaviota)

Hotels in Cayos de Villa Clara
Angsana Cayo Santa María (Gaviota) Effective November 15, 2018
Dhawa Cayo Santa María (Gaviota)
Golden Tulip Aguas Claras (Gaviota) Effective November 15, 2018
Hotel Cayo Santa María (Gaviota)
Hotel Playa Cayo Santa María (Gaviota)
Iberostar Ensenachos (Gaviota)
Las Salinas Plana & Spa (Gaviota) Effective November 15, 2018
La Salina Noreste (Gaviota) Effective November 15, 2018
La Salina Suroeste (Gaviota) Effective November 15, 2018
Meliá Buenavista (Gaviota)
Meliá Cayo Santa María (Gaviota)
Meliá Las Dunas (Gaviota)
Memories Azul (Gaviota)
Memories Flamenco (Gaviota)
Memories Paraíso (Gaviota)
Ocean Casa del Mar (Gaviota)
Paradisus Los Cayos (Gaviota) Effective November 15, 2018
Royalton Cayo Santa María (Gaviota)
Sercotel Experience Cayo Santa María (Gaviota) Effective November 15, 2018
Sol Cayo Santa María (Gaviota)
Starfish Cayo Santa María (Gaviota) Effective November 15, 2018
Valentín Perla Blanca (Gaviota) Effective November 15, 2018
Villa Las Brujas (Gaviota)
Warwick Cayo Santa María (Gaviota) (also Labranda Cayo Santa María Hotel effective November 15, 2018)

Hotels in Holguín
Blau Costa Verde Beach & Resort (Gaviota) (also Fiesta Americana Holguín Costa Verde effective November 15, 2018)
Hotel Playa Costa Verde (Gaviota)
Hotel Playa Pesquero (Gaviota)
Memories Holguín (Gaviota)
Paradisus Río de Oro Resort & Spa (Gaviota)
Playa Costa Verde (Gaviota)
Playa Pesquero Premium Service (Gaviota)
Sol Rio de Luna y Mares (Gaviota)
Villa Cayo Naranjo (Gaviota)
Villa Cayo Saetia (Gaviota)
Villa Pinares de Mayari (Gaviota)

Hotels in Jardines del Rey
Grand Muthu Cayo Guillermo (Gaviota) Effective November 15, 2018
Hotel Playa Coco Plus (Gaviota)
Iberostar Playa Pilar (Gaviota)
Meliá Jardines del Rey (Gaviota)
Memories Caribe (Gaviota)
Pestana Cayo Coco (Gaviota)

Hotels in Topes de Collantes
Hostal Los Helechos (Gaviota)
Kurhotel Escambray (Gaviota) Effective November 15, 2018
Los Helechos (Gaviota)
Villa Caburni (Gaviota)

Tourist Agencies
Crucero del Sol
Gaviota Tours

Marinas
Marina Gaviota Cabo de San Antonio (Pinar del Rio)
Marina Gaviota Cayo Coco (Jardines del Rey)
Marina Gaviota Las Brujas (Cayos de Villa Clara)
Marina Gaviota Puerto Vita (Holguín)
Marina Gaviota Varadero (Varadero)

Stores in Old Havana
Casa del Abanico (Habaguanex)
Colección Habana (Habaguanex)
Florería Jardín Wagner (Habaguanex)
Joyería Coral Negro (CIMEX) – Additional locations throughout Cuba
La Casa del Regalo (Habaguanex)
San Ignacio 415 (Habaguanex)
Soldadito de Plomo (Habaguanex)
Tienda El Navegante (Habaguanex)
Tienda Muñecos de Leyenda (Habaguanex)
Tienda Museo El Reloj Cuervo y Sobrinos (Habaguanex)

Entities Directly Serving the Defense and Security Sectors
ACERPROT — Agencia de Certificación y Consultoría de Seguridad y Protección (alias Empresa de Certificación de Sistemas de Seguridad y Protección effective November 15, 2018)
AGROMIN — Grupo Empresarial Agropecuario del Ministerio del Interior
APCI — Agencia de Protección Contra Incendios
CAHOMA — Empresa Militar Industrial Comandante Ernesto Che Guevara
CASEG — Empresa Militar Industrial Transporte Occidente
CID NAV — Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo Naval
CIDAI — Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo de Armamento de Infantería
CIDAO — Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo del Armamento de Artillería e Instrumentos Ópticos y Ópticos Electrónicos
CORCEL — Empresa Militar Industrial Emilio Barcenas Pier
CUBAGRO — Empresa Comercializadora y Exportadora de Productos Agropecuarios y Agroindustriales
DATYS — Empresa Para El Desarrollo De Aplicaciones, Tecnologías Y Sistemas
DCM TRANS — Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo del Transporte
DEGOR — Empresa Militar Industrial Desembarco Del Granma
DSE — Departamento de Seguridad del Estado
EMIAT — Empresa Importadora Exportadora de Abastecimientos Técnicos
Empresa Militar Industrial Astilleros Astimar
Empresa Militar Industrial Astilleros Centro
Empresa Militar Industrial Yuri Gagarin
ETASE — Empresa de Transporte y Aseguramiento
Ferretería TRASVAL
GELCOM — Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo Grito de Baire
Impresos de Seguridad
MECATRONICS — Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo de Electrónica y Mecánica
NAZCA — Empresa Militar Industrial Granma
OIBS — Organización Integración para el Bienestar Social
PLAMEC — Empresa Militar Industrial Ignacio Agramonte
PNR — Policía Nacional Revolucionaria
PROVARI — Empresa de Producciones Varias
SEPSA — Servicios Especializados de Protección
SERTOD — Servicios de Telecomunicaciones a los Órganos de la Defensa Effective November 15, 2018
SIMPRO — Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo de Simuladores
TECAL — Empresa de Tecnologías Alternativas
TECNOPRO — Empresa Militar Industrial “G.B. Francisco Cruz Bourzac”
TECNOTEX — Empresa Cubana Exportadora e Importadora de Servicios, Artículos y Productos Técnicos Especializados
TGF — Tropas de Guardafronteras
UAM — Unión Agropecuaria Militar
ULAEX — Unión Latinoamericana de Explosivos
XETID — Empresa de Tecnologías de la Información Para La Defensa
YABO — Empresa Militar Industrial Coronel Francisco Aguiar Rodríguez

Additional Subentities of CIMEX
ADESA/ASAT — Agencia Servicios Aduanales (Customs Services)
Cachito (Beverage Manufacturer)
Contex (Fashion)
Datacimex
ECUSE — Empresa Cubana de Servicios
Inmobiliaria CIMEX (Real Estate)
Inversiones CIMEX
Jupiña (Beverage Manufacturer)
La Maisón (Fashion)
Najita (Beverage Manufacturer)
Publicitaria Imagen (Advertising)
Residencial Tarara S.A. (Real Estate / Property Rental) Effective November 15, 2018
Ron Caney (Rum Production)
Ron Varadero (Rum Production)
Telecable (Satellite Television)
Tropicola (Beverage Manufacturer)
Zona Especializada de Logística y Comercio (ZELCOM)

Additional Subentities of GAESA
Almacenes Universales (AUSA)
ANTEX — Corporación Antillana Exportadora
Compañía Inmobiliaria Aurea S.A. (GAESA) Effective November 15, 2018
Dirección Integrada Proyecto Mariel (DIP)
Empresa Inmobiliaria Almest (Real Estate)
GRAFOS (Advertising)
RAFIN S.A. (Financial Services)
Sociedad Mercantin Inmobiliaria Caribe (Real Estate)
TECNOIMPORT
Terminal de Contenedores de la Habana (TCH)
Terminal de Contenedores de Mariel, S.A.
UCM — Unión de Construcciones Militares
Zona Especial de Desarrollo Mariel (ZEDM)
Zona Especial de Desarrollo y Actividades Logísticas (ZEDAL)
Additional Subentities of Gaviota
AT Comercial
Manzana de Gomez (Shopping Mall)
PhotoService
Plaza La Estrella Effective November 15, 2018
Plaza Las Dunas Effective November 15, 2018
Plaza Las Morlas Effective November 15, 2018
Plaza Las Salinas Effective November 15, 2018
Plaza Las Terrazas del Atardecer Effective November 15, 2018
Plaza Los Flamencos Effective November 15, 2018
Plaza Pesquero Effective November 15, 2018
Producciones TRIMAGEN S.A. (Tiendas Trimagen)

Additional Subentities of Habaguanex
Sociedad Mercantil Cubana Inmobiliaria Fenix S.A. (Real Estate)

The F.B.I. Is Quietly Contacting Cubans in Florida, Raising Old Alarm Bells 2

 

Demonstrations in Miami in 2015 against the opening of the U.S. embassy in Havana.
(Michele Eve Sandberg/Corbis, via Getty Images)

By Frances Robles, New York Times

Julio V. Ruiz, a 71-year-old retired psychiatrist with a long history of participating in talks with the Cuban government, tried to ignore the persistent knocking at his door by two strangers when they showed up uninvited one afternoon last week.

The rapping on the door went on for 15 minutes. It was the F.B.I.

“Everyone tells you not to speak to them and to call your lawyer,” Dr. Ruiz said. “But you get scared. I was measured in what I said, and gave them a brief history of Cuba going back to the 19th century.”

At least five Cuban-Americans in Miami, including Dr. Ruiz, who have opposed a trade embargo with Cuba and promoted better relations with the communist government in Havana, said they received surprise visits in the past week from federal agents.

The law enforcement representatives were vague about their intentions, gave only their first names, and asked questions that seemed intended to learn about contacts with Cuban diplomats, Dr. Ruiz said.

For many, the questions triggered decades-old concerns dating back to a time when ideological divisions in the Cuban exile community were more pronounced, and sometimes were coupled with law enforcement scrutiny.

Those contacted were among a large group of exiles who came to the United States as children in the early 1960s, fleeing the Castro dictatorship. As adults, they supported engaging with the Cuban government, even when doing so was deeply unpopular in South Florida and often caused them to be ostracized.

Some of those contacted said they feared that they were being targeted as part of President Trump’s moves to curtail travel to Cuba and roll back new openings with Havana that had been enacted by the Obama administration.

The meetings come in the wake of a series of bizarre ailments, which some suggested could be linked to possible sonic or microwave attacks, that afflicted more than three dozen American diplomats and family members in Cuba and China. The incidents in Cuba resulted in a diplomatic rupture between Havana and Washington, and the U.S. embassy in Havana is down to a skeleton staff.

But there was no sign that the recent meetings were connected to any investigation of those reports. A brochure the agents left with one of the men suggested that the agents were trying to alert him to the possibility that he was being targeted by spies.

Article Continues Here:  FBI Warns Activists

 

 

Now Russia is Suspected of Attacks Against Diplomats in Cuba. Will U.S. Strike Back? 6

File picture showing a vintage US car passing in front of the US Embassy in Havana on December 17, 2015. (Photo credit should read YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)

By Nora Gámez Torres, ngameztorres@elnuevoherald.com

Cuba is again in the middle of what could be another confrontation between the United States and Russia, after Moscow was identified in a news report as the main suspect in the string of mysterious attacks against U.S. embassy personnel and relatives in Havana.

An NBC report quoting unidentified U.S. officials said federal agencies investigating the incidents have intercepted intelligence communications that point to Russian responsibility for the attacks, although the evidence is not conclusive enough to formally accuse Moscow.

But if a Russian role is confirmed, “that would be unprecedented. That’s never happened,” said Frank Mora, who served as deputy secretary of defense for Latin America and now heads the Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center at Florida International University.

“Russia has meddled in the U.S. elections and has been behind the attacks on former Russian spies in England, but to provoke serious injuries to U.S. officials, that is much more complicated and the United States has to react in some way,” he added.

Cuba is again in the middle of what could be another confrontation between the United States and Russia, after Moscow was identified in a news report as the main suspect in the string of mysterious attacks against U.S. embassy personnel and relatives in Havana.

An NBC report quoting unidentified U.S. officials said federal agencies investigating the incidents have intercepted intelligence communications that point to Russian responsibility for the attacks, although the evidence is not conclusive enough to formally accuse Moscow.

But if a Russian role is confirmed, “that would be unprecedented. That’s never happened,” said Frank Mora, who served as deputy secretary of defense for Latin America and now heads the Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center at Florida International University.

“Russia has meddled in the U.S. elections and has been behind the attacks on former Russian spies in England, but to provoke serious injuries to U.S. officials, that is much more complicated and the United States has to react in some way,” he added.

The NBC report said the U.S. military is working to replicate the weapon or weapons used to injure 26 employees of the State Department, the CIA and other federal agencies as well as relatives who were based in Havana. The victims suffered symptoms such as loss of hearing, cognitive problems and some experienced brain damage.

A team of doctors that investigated the incidents at the request of the U.S. government has said it’s possible the attackers used a “neuro-weapon” of directed energy that could damage the brain by causing a “cavitation” effect with ultrasonic, electromagnetic or microwaves. The U.S. Air Force research program on directed energy is participating in the investigation.

Article continues here:  Russians in Cuba?

 

Family of Cuban-American Jailed in Cuba For Espionage Pleads For U.S Attorney, Consular Visits 6

Alina Lopez Miyares, the mother of a Cuban-American jailed in Cuba on alleged espionage charges, holds a picture of her daughter in her home in Miami Beach on August 7, 2018.Carmen Sesin / NBC News

The case of Alina López Miyares runs into Cuba’s policy of considering anyone born in Cuba to be a Cuban national once they step foot on the island.

by Carmen Sesin, NBC News

MIAMI BEACH — The family and attorney of a Cuban-American citizen who’s in a Cuban prison after being sentenced to 13 years for alleged espionage are asking the country’s authorities to allow the woman to receive U.S. consular and attorney visits.

But the case of Alina López Miyares, 59, runs into Cuba’s longstanding policy of considering anyone born in Cuba to be a Cuban national once they step foot on the island. Cuba is among a number of countries who don’t recognize dual U.S. citizenship.

The U.S. embassy in Cuba states in their website, “Cuban authorities may deny U.S. consular officers access to dual Cuban-American citizens.”

According to a source intimately familiar with the case, López Miyares was sentenced for allegedly spying for the U.S. Her husband, Felix Martín Milanés Fajardo — a former Cuban official assigned to the Permanent Mission of Cuba to the United Nations — was sentenced to 17 years, according to her mother.

Jason Poblete, a Washington D.C. based attorney who is representing López Miyares, said “there have been repeated overtures for consular service and they have been denied or the Cubans have been non-responsive.”

He said a legal team from his practice is prepared to travel to the island if the Cuban government were to allow them access to López Miyares.

Vicki Huddleston, who was Chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana from 1999 to 2002, said they were not able to see Cuban-Americans jailed in Cuba. “We would reach out to the government and request to see them, but the answer was always no.”

Jim Cason, who succeeded Huddleston as Chief of the U.S. Interests section in Havana and is a former ambassador to Paraguay, said Cuba was very tough on their policy of dual nationality.

A U.S. State Department official did not confirm nor deny the imprisonment of López Miyares, citing privacy laws.

But in a statement to NBC News, the official stated that some of the most vulnerable U.S. citizens abroad are those who are detained in a foreign county, adding the State Department is always ready to provide services and help.

Article continues here:  Dangerous Dual Citizenship

 

 

Doctors Reveal Possible “Neuro-Weapon” Used in Alleged Attacks in Cuba 3

By Nora Gámez Torres, ngameztorres@elnuevoherald.com

The U.S. Embassy in Havana (CNS photo/Alejandro Ernesto, EPA)

Three doctors who evaluated U.S. personnel affected by alleged attacks in Cuba believe that they were carried out with a weapon that uses directed energy and is capable of causing a “cavitation” effect.

“Neuro-weapons” can be biological, chemical, or in the case of the incidents in Havana, “directed energy weapons,” Dr. James Giordano told National Defense magazine. He is a professor in the departments of neurology and biochemistry at the Medical Center of Georgetown University Medical Center, and an expert in “neurotechnology” and its use in the military.

On Thursday, U.S. Department of State officials said in a congressional hearing that investigators still do not know how the attacks against U.S. personnel at the embassy in Havana were carried out or who the perpetrators are. The attacks began in late 2016 and the most recent was reported in May.

But three doctors that are part of a team put together by the State Department believe that those affected by the attacks may have been exposed to a directed energy weapon, which can cause injury by creating “cavitation,” or air pockets, in fluids near the inner ear.

The bubbles can travel quickly through two pathways that carry blood to the brain from the inner ear — the cochlear and the vestibular — and “function as a stroke,” Giordano said.

So far, 26 Americans have been affected with symptoms ranging from hearing loss, balance and cognitive problems, to brain damage.

The team created by the government includes an expert in brain trauma and otolaryngology, Dr. Michael Hoffer of the University of Miami, and Dr. Carey Balaban, professor of otolaryngology, bioengineering and neurobiology at the University of Pittsburgh. Giordano, Hoffer and Balaban independently studied the first tests taken by those affected.

The victims traveled to Miami to be evaluated and Hoffer also traveled to Havana shortly after the first incidents were reported in late December 2016, all occurring in diplomatic residences and two hotels.

The U.S. personnel he examined said they were sitting in their homes, or at the hotel, when they suddenly felt the symptoms: a feeling of pressure, pain or ringing in the ears and dizziness after being exposed to a shrill noise. A day later, some reported cognitive deficits.

Hoffer said that some of those affected said they perceived that the energy “beam” followed them around their homes or at the hotel, and it only ceased when they opened the front door.

The team was unable to conclude exactly what method the perpetrators of the attacks used but reduced it to several possibilities:

Read more here: Neuro-weapon

He Now Hunts Cuban Human-Rights Abusers In The U.S. Was He Once An Offender Himself? 3

Juan Antonio Blanco, director ejecutivo de la Fundación por los Derechos Humanos en Cuba. (Courtesy: Miami Herald)

By Nora Gámez Torres, ngameztorres@elnuevoherald.com 

Juan Antonio Blanco — the academic, activist, and executive director of the Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba — recently announced an initiative to unmask and deport Cuban human-rights abusers now living in the United States. He declared that the drive was not “a witch hunt” against people just because of their political beliefs or affiliations with political organizations on the island.

What Blanco didn’t say: He once belonged to the Rapid Response Brigades, which were created by Fidel Castro in the 1990s to repress dissidents and contain popular unrest.

“I myself am a member of the Rapid Response Brigades in my building,” Blanco said during a conference in the United States in 1993, after he had broken with the Cuban government.

The brigades were organized along paramilitary lines and have been frequently deployed by the government to repress the dissident Ladies in White and other opposition groups. In 1994, Brigade members, along with police and military members dressed in civilian clothes and armed with clubs and steel rods, cracked down on a large Havana protest known as El Maleconazo, which gave way to the mass departures of the Balsero Crisis.

“It’s true that there have been cases where such encounters have gotten out of hand. I joined the brigade precisely because I think it is important to make sure that there will be no excesses or abuses,” Blanco added in 1993, according to the book “Talking About Revolution,” which was written by activist Medea Benjamin and based on conferences that Blanco held in several U.S. universities at the time.

Twenty-five years later, Blanco still finds it difficult to explain his statements.

“I did not belong to a Rapid Response Brigades unit,” he initially told el Nuevo Herald during a telephone interview. “The most that I recall participating in was one time when there was a protest against a neighbor in my building, and what I did was precisely to block any abuses against that person. What I did was to break up the activity.”

“I say there [at a 1993 conference] that I am a member because I belonged, not because I signed anything or was involved in anything,” Blanco said. “Sadly, the way that I was talking about that at that time, well, you evidently seize on that now and you take it out of context, and that doesn’t help.”

Feature continues here:  Devoted Spy to Human Rights Champion?

 

Target USA: Episode 120 — Rethinking the Illnesses of US diplomats in Havana: A New Theory 1

On Aug. 9, 2017, CBS correspondent Steve Dorsey broke the story that U.S. diplomats in Havana had been sickened by a mysterious illness, the cause of which no one could put their finger on. At the time no one had any answers about what happened. Doctors determined they were likely suffering from some kind of ultrasonic device. But since then other possibilities have arisen. Chris Simmons, a retired supervisory counterintelligence officer from the Defense Intelligence Agency with deep experience related to Cuba, has a theory and supporting evidence that makes perfect sense and is very plausible.

Podcast link:  Cuba’s Sonic Attacks

New Enhancements at Cuba’s Primary Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) Base Suggests Improved Targeting of United States 1

Image Credit: Victor Robert Lee & Digital Globe

Satellite Images: A (Worrying) Cuban Mystery

The new radome in Cuba is unprecedented. Who is behind it?

By Victor Robert Lee, The Diplomat.com

Satellite images from February and May 2018 show a newly constructed radome on the signals intelligence base near Bejucal, Cuba. Its protective dome and elevated mounting make it the first of its kind among the numerous long-standing SIGINT antennas at Bejucal, which have been used to intercept electronic communications from the United States.

The new steerable parabolic antenna and its spherical enclosure (together called a radome) were erected on a site adjacent to other known Cuban surveillance antennas south of Havana near the town of Bejucal between March 2017 and February 2018. The functions of the new antenna are not discernible from the current satellite images, but similar antennas have been employed for signals interception, missile tracking, satellite uplinks and downlinks, radio communications, tracking of objects in space, and in some cases to disrupt satellite communications. The radome, approximately 6-7 meters in diameter, sits atop a square building approximately 11-12 meters wide. If the antenna can be tilted to horizontal – a common capability – its elevated position could also enable direct communications with vessels at sea or other signal sources on the horizon.

The Bejucal signals intelligence site had a relatively static number of parabolic antennas –approximately two dozen– from 2010 until 2016, and only one of them, considerably smaller than the new radome, was covered, although such coverings are common in many other nations, particularly at facilities with military or intelligence functions. Such specialized coverings can protect from weather and wear, but another advantage is that they conceal the orientation, and thus the possible purposes, of the antenna within.

Satellite images of the signals intelligence base near Bejucal also show that two smaller steerable parabolic antennas were installed in April-May 2017, the same period as the beginning of construction of the new radome. These antennas, located 460 meters south of the newly constructed radome, are linked by above-ground conduits to two other antennas installed as recently as May 2016.

Feature continues here: Cuban SIGINT

 

Rubio, Díaz-Balart Want Investigation of Raúl Castro in 1996 Shoot-Down of Exile Planes 1

 

The four Brothers to the Rescue pilots who were shot down by Cuban aircraft in 1996. C.M. Guerrero el Nuevo Herald

By Nora Gámez Torres

ngameztorres@elnuevoherald.com

Two Florida Republicans, Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart, have asked President Donald Trump to consider an investigation into whether Cuba’s former ruler, Raúl Castro, should be indicted for the 1996 shoot-down of two Brothers to the Rescue planes.

The shoot-down by Cuban military planes resulted in the deaths of three U.S. citizens — Carlos Costa, Armando Alejandre and Mario de la Peña — as well as the death of Pablo Morales, a U.S. permanent resident.

“We urge you to consider new, additional actions to hold the Castro regime accountable for its crimes. For that reason, within all applicable rules and regulations, we urge you to direct the Department of Justice to review whether Raúl Castro should be indicted for the illegal and heinous act” of shooting down the two civilian aircraft in international waters, Rubio and Díaz-Balart said in a letter they sent to the president on Monday.

Brothers to the Rescue made volunteer flights in the Straits of Florida to search for Cuban rafters who had fled the island by sea. The organization also made flights inside Cuban territory to drop pamphlets denouncing the government of the late Fidel Castro. At the time, Raúl Castro was the minister of Cuba’s Revolutionary Armed Forces.

Cuban authorities asked the U.S. government to ground the flights, but they continued and on Feb. 24, 1996, two Cuban military planes shot down two of the Brothers to the Rescue planes.

In 2003, a U.S. federal court in Miami indicted three Cuban officials on charges of murder, but Raúl Castro was not among them. None of them were tried. Gerardo Hernández, leader of a Cuban spy ring known as the WASP network, was sentenced to life in prison in connection with the shoot-down but he was freed by the Obama administration as part of a prisoner exchange.

The legislators also asked Trump to direct appropriate agencies to assess whether Interpol “red notices” should be issued for the arrest and extradition to the United States “of all Cuban operatives responsible for the murders.”

Editor’s Note: “Operation Scorpion” was the codename Havana’s primary service used for their mission supporting the murder of Brothers to the Rescue members. Due to their central role in the shoot down, key members of the Directorate of Intelligence (DI) should be included in any attempt to issue Interpol “red notices.”