The Sound and the Fury: Inside the Mystery of the Havana Embassy 2

One of the U.S. diplomats affected by the health incidents reportedly lived in this home in Havana. (Courtesy of NBC News)

More than a year after American diplomats began to suffer strange, concussion-like symptoms in Cuba, a U.S. investigation is no closer to determining how they were hurt or by whom, and the FBI and CIA are at odds over the case. A ProPublica investigation reveals the many layers to the mystery — and the political maneuvering that is reshaping U.S.-Cuba relations.

by Tim Golden and Sebastian Rotella

It was a cool night for Havana, with the temperature falling into the mid-70s, and the diplomat and his family were feeling very good about their assignment to Cuba. They were still settling into their new home, a comfortable, Spanish-style house in the lush enclave that had been called “el Country Club” before wealthy families abandoned it in the early years of the revolution. “We were just thrilled to be there,” the diplomat recalled. “The music, the rum, the cigars, the people — and a very important moment for diplomacy.”

Eight months earlier, in March 2016, President Barack Obama had swept into town to commemorate the two countries’ historic rapprochement, vowing to bury “the last remnant of the Cold War in the Americas.” Now, weeks after the election of Donald Trump, that entente was suddenly doubtful. Fidel Castro had just died, opening a new chapter in the Cuban saga. The diplomat could hardly have imagined a more fascinating time to arrive.

As the sun slid into the Florida Straits on that late-November evening, the diplomat folded back the living room doors that opened onto the family’s new tropical garden. The warm night air poured in, along with an almost overpowering din. “It was annoying to the point where you had to go in the house and close all the windows and doors and turn up the TV,” he recalled. “But I never particularly worried about it. I figured, ‘I’m in a strange country, and the insects here make loud noises.’”

A few nights later, the diplomat and his wife invited over the family of another American embassy official who lived next door. Around dusk, as they chatted on the patio, the same deafening sound rose from their yard again.

“I’m pretty sure those are cicadas,” the first diplomat said.

“Those are not cicadas,” his neighbor insisted. “Cicadas don’t sound like that. It’s too mechanical-sounding.”

The colleague had been hearing the same noises at home, sometimes for an hour or more at a stretch. After he complained to the embassy housing office, a couple of Cuban maintenance workers were dispatched to look around. They checked for electrical problems and scanned the yard for strange insects, but they left without finding anything out of place. In February, the nightly racket finally began to fade. Then it went away altogether.

Feature continues here:  Sound & Fury



  1. Let’s review. Our newly stationed diplomat’s first suggestion that the cicada whine is not organic but mechanical, comes from a neighboring “embassy official” who may or may not be a CIA agent. The suggestion is further reinforced by someone who definitely IS a CIA agent, with additional imaginative details about non-existent weapons that defy the laws of physics (since LRADs are not exactly portable): “a powerful beam of high-pitched sound (…) pointed right at him.” The CIA agent backs his tale with a recording of… cicadas!!. And claims that a Miami doctor has told him (this is the CIA agent talking, not the doctor) that his diagnosis included “serious damage to the small bones inside one of his ears.” No wonder the rumor mill began to churn. Still, State Department Medical Director Dr. Rosenfarb remains convinced “this was not an episode of mass hysteria” (the correct term is collective psychological response), but never explains how he reached the conclusion. Patient privacy is brandished as a shield that prevents the release of any concrete information to anyone except Senator Marco Rubio and also prevents journalists from digging beyond hearsay from anonymous sources. Add the general fearfulness of US citizens that causes them to see Russians under every bed, including Trump’s, and we have a virtually perfect psyop leaving aside the CIA own interests in turning back the clock on USA-Cuba relations. The US diplomats will not return in March and maybe the whole US Embassy will be closed. The “health incidents” are barely the cover story and Washington becomes out of touch since those incidents were terrorist actions and deserve military retaliation, not spy games.

  2. There are a few factors to consider when we are talking about this incident. The Soviet Union and East Germany experienced and tested sonic devices and experimented to use them as weapons. During the thaw of the communist block in 1989, East Germany sent ships filled with electronic technology to Cuba. Is there a posibility that sonic weapons were sent to Cuba?. In 2016, a High ranking Russian intelligence officer named Alexander Sacenkov visited Cuba to sign a treaty of cooperation with Raul Castro. There is no coincidence, there is a possibility Russia introduced Sonic devices in Cuba and the Cubans are using them against American diplomats.

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