BY NEIL GRASSO
Assistant News Editor
Members of the U.S. and Canadian embassies and medical teams working on their cases have theorized that the mysterious illnesses they have experienced since working in Cuba in late 2016 were caused by attacks from high-tech, microwave-based weaponry.
The U.S. State Department has cut back on the number of embassy members stationed in Cuba ever since an October report detailing members experiencing hearing loss, weakened balance, concussions, and other ailments.
At least 24 U.S. citizens were affected.
U.S. investigators have not determined an official cause for the illnesses and Cuba denies any wrongdoing.
The officials said Thursday that they don’t dispute that diplomats became ill, but suggested that many of the cases consisted of ordinary illnesses that were erroneously blamed on a mysterious single phenomenon due to the high degree of public and media attention focused on the case.
Some of the U.S victims have cited nausea, struggling to concentrate, or difficulty with common word recall, as other primary symptoms.
Others felt vibrations or heard loud sounds, mysteriously audible in only parts of rooms, whereas others heard nothing of the sort.
“As a student in a medical-related field, I’ve learned about the ethics that apply regarding experimental trial periods for new technology,” said Stephanie Pic, a junior nursing major. “These cases always require the permission of the participants. Whether this was the testing of medical or military technology, it is completely illegal, as it can potentially ruin the lives, careers, and families of those involved.”
Meetings between the U.S. State Department and Cuban officials have resulted in little progress in regards to determining a causation for the ailments experienced by the embassy official.
“You’re on foreign soil,” said David Rubincam, a former FBI agent who served in Moscow. “The quality of the information and evidence you collect is limited to what the host government will allow you to see and hear and touch and do.”
Sacred Heart University students were also quick to point out the danger that lies in the potential microwave weapon theory.
“While the illnesses experienced by the embassy officials is quite terrifying, I think that the weaponry that Cuba is allegedly using is easily the most concerning aspect of this situation,” said Cooper Clark, a junior communications major. “A microwave-based weapon that can cause illnesses and make people feel like they are trapped in force fields is something that I’ve never personally heard about before this story. I really hope that weapons such as these, if they exist, will be detectable in the future.”
“If the theories regarding the microwave-based weapon are true, this is a straight up case of human rights being violated in the worst way,” said Mike Plunkett, a junior sociology major. “These people are there working in Cuba, some with their families, in an effort to represent their respective countries and to peacefully work on the relations between themselves and Cuba. They were completely vulnerable and subject to their working conditions. If true, this is very saddening.”
The Associated Press has contributed to this article.