Mysterious illness

In October 2017, 24 American diplomats working at the US embassy in Havana were recalled. Allegedly, they were victims of acoustic attacks by the Cubans. Since November 2016 they had developed a range of symptoms: headache, dizziness, sleep disturbance, visual symptoms, cognitive and hearing difficulties, disorientation and balance problems. The symptoms were attributed to strange noises in the places where they lived and worked. Over the course of months, the symptoms began to resolve. The US government accused Cuba of ‘health attacks.’ In retaliation, it expelled fifteen Cuban diplomats. The FBI started an investigation but found no evidence of attacks. The Cuban government strongly denied any involvement.

A group of researchers of the University of Pennsylvania published ten days ago in the Journal of the American Medical Association the results of an investigation of 21 diplomats. They concluded that there must be a new syndrome that resembles very much persistent concussion. The problem of course is that there is no indication of any head trauma. No problem for the researchers; they simply assume the government position that the diplomats must have been exposed to an unknown energy source. Mysterious diseases in the past have often been explained with exposure to earth radiation or Poltergeists. With no evidence of any kind of attack, the State Department now assumes that it must be a virus. Its website warns citizens to travel to Cuba because of health attacks.

The story reminds us of another episode of mysterious attacks on American diplomats. Appointed in 1953 by President Eisenhower as ambassador to Italy, Clare Boothe Luce soon became ill. Her symptoms were found out to be the result of arsenic poisoning. Of course, the communists were suspected, and the CIA was involved. The poisoning turned out to be the result from dust falling from the ceiling of her study in the Villa Taverna, the 17th century palace that was the ambassador’s residency. Rumors have it that it was the powerful American washing machine on the upper floor that caused minute flakes of the old paint to spread around.

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