When the Associated Press released its “scoop” recording of sounds reportedly heard by US diplomats claiming hearing loss as a result of their tours in Cuba, I told a friend that it reminded me of something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Last night, the penny dropped.
Cuba aired its side of the “acoustic attacks” story yesterday evening on Cubavision. Cuban experts revealed that the US government had furnished them with a recording of the same sounds that likely eventually made their way to the AP. Hearing those recordings, one foreign reporter here even chimed in: “The AP story blows an unrepairable hole in the ‘this was all in people’s minds’ theory.”
For their part, the Cuban experts calmly listened to the recordings and followed up with a recording of their own: the random whine of tropical cicadas in a Havana park, which they then compared to the Embassy recordings. The two track practically identically.
The sound of Cuban cicadas is not exactly the same as the cicadas I remember in Washington DC; the Washington cicadas were quite a bit louder, as I recall. But it was exactly that sound I’d been trying to pinpoint…a very subtle high pitched whine. I’ve heard it here, a million times.
Although this ought to fuel endless jokes about the crack investigators at the FBI and State Department tasked with providing substance for Marco Rubio’s break with Cuba (because let’s face it, Rubio is the puppet-master and Trump has admitted as much), this was not the most damning part of the Cuban report – which actually blows irreparable holes in any theory that the attacks were real.
It begins at the 15:45 minute mark, where the Cubans point out that after the US government alerted them to the problem, when they called the Embassy’s head of security in for a chat, they were struck by the fact that he denied any knowledge of any such “incidents,” even though his sole function was supposedly to protect the safety of US diplomats under his watch. More telling still, was the later appearance of this same head of security on the list of “affected” personnel.
Additionally, between February and June, 2017, when the “attacks” were supposedly in full swing, the US Embassy requested 293 diplomatic visas, 158 of which were for family and friends of diplomats – to visit the dangerously unsafe archipelago.
I still maintain that the whole thing started innocently enough, with diplomats facing an uncertain future – in Havana or any alternate post within a shattered State Department – pulling the ripcord on the work-related disability parachute, the better to get out quickly and safely. Then it simply snowballed.
But it’s also a fact that US Americans coming to Cuba have been primed with so much frightening propaganda about the country over the years that they’re willing to swallow almost anything, even the hum of a cicada, as a potential communist plot. It boggles the mind though, that trained diplomats lucky enough to have landed an assignment in the most beautiful of all the Caribbean islands, are passing their time here in such a nervous state that cicadas would set them off. Compared with the real, bloody, mortal attacks on Cuban diplomats abroad over the years, it’s all the more embarrassing.