Just when relations between Washington and Havana had fallen into soporific boredom comes the story of some U.S. diplomats who last year suffered inexplicable auditive damage in Cuba.
The theory considered until now — worthy of the best espionage novels — is that some Cuban intelligence device inflicted physical harm to the American officials and their families, causing them to leave the island. In response, Washington ordered the departure from the U.S. of two members of the Cuban diplomatic staff before May 23 last.
In my opinion, it makes no sense for Cuba to get involved in an act of that kind under the present circumstances. Not even in the worst days of Bush were reported cases of direct aggression of such magnitude.
The idea that the incident could have occurred outside the Cuban chain of command, handled by others, also seems to me harebrained. The issue of relations with Washington is one of national security.
Something just doesn’t fit.
To add more intrigue, when one looks up “ultrasonic devices for espionage” on the Internet, the first entry that pops up is the “Ultrasonic blocker cellular recorder.” This small device, a lot less powerful than those surely owned by the U.S. agencies, blocks audio recordings by introducing a background noise that humans are not capable of hearing.
“It is fully effective for cable microphones Shor and MKY, most Edic, iPhone 4, 5 and 6 recorders, as well as concealed devices for listening and transmitting, which makes it an essential tool for tasks of electronic countermeasures,” says the website that sells it.
The World Health Organization has established at 55 decibels the level of noise that the human ear can tolerate without suffering alterations. Extended exposition to low-frequency ultrasonic waves can generate dizziness and hearing loss, according to the experts.
A listening device such as one that might be used by intelligence services to record the conversations of diplomats functions, in theory, as an antenna with great capability for reception; it does not emit any kind of noise.
Could it be that the damage was provoked by the Americans themselves while avoiding being overheard?
The MinRex’s official statement says that Cuba is willing to collaborate with the U.S. authorities to clear up the situation and reaffirms that it will never allow its territory to be used for aggression. But it doesn’t give a clue about the possible cause of the alleged deeds.
In other words, the story goes on and resembles a movie plot. Might the Russians be involved? (Anything that’s bad nowadays comes from the Kremlin.) Could it be the Chinese? Extraterrestrials?
Sergio Alejandro Gómez is a Cuban journalist.
(From Medium. Translation to English by Progreso Weekly.)