What Is Havana Syndrome?

ILLUSTRATION BY CARLO GIAMBARRESI

Back in August of 2017, many diplomats from both the US and Canada began experiencing symptoms like ringing in their ears, loss of balance, foggy memory, anxiety, dizziness, and anxiety. Not all of them had the same exact symptoms, but the one thing they did all have in common, besides feeling like crap, was that they worked in the US Embassy in Havana, Cuba at some point between 2016-2017.

The cause was unknown, but it was generally agreed that they were a result of targeted attacks carried out by the Cuban government. Cuba denied these allegations, of course, their doctors claiming this was a classic case of mass hysteria. Right.

Doctors and scientists went to work on trying to figure out how in the hell the Cubans managed to do this. The first study was published in March 2018 by the University of Pennsylvania. These were their findings:

In this case series of 21 individuals exposed to directional audible and sensory phenomena, a constellation of acute and persistent signs and symptoms were identified, in the absence of an associated history of blunt head trauma. Following exposure, patients experienced cognitive, vestibular, and oculomotor dysfunction, along with auditory symptoms, sleep abnormalities, and headache. The unique circumstances of these patients and the consistency of the clinical manifestations raised concern for a novel mechanism of a possible acquired brain injury from a directional exposure of undetermined etiology.

JAMA

Translation: they were concussed, kinda.

After that University of Miami and the University of Pittsburgh did their own study later that year and said that this specific group exhibited a pattern of balance and cognitive dysfunction that was different from typical concussion symptoms.

Then in December 2020, a study done by the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine concluded it was most likely caused by directed microwave radiation. It was also noted that the Soviets were doing research on the effects of pulsed radiofrequency energy over 50 years ago. Hmmm...(former CIA officer Marc Polymeropoulos may have suffered a similar attack in Moscow).

Boris Badenov - Wikipedia
Boris Badenov

These new findings prompted the CIA to create a new task force that will further investigate the mysterious cases now that there is even more evidence suggesting these were deliberate attacks. The group includes counterintelligence agents, doctors, and HR professionals.

The Biden administration is currently reviewing policies with Cuba, so this will likely be at the top of that list.