Miércoles, 11 de Diciembre de 2019
Última actualización: 16:13 CET

Noise in Havana: What Is, and Is Not, Behind the Sonic Attacks Against US Diplomats

US Embassy in Havana. (NBC NEWS)

Like in the best noir novels by Chandler and Hammett, these days in the capital of Cuba reality surpasses fiction: a large group of US diplomats are manifesting diverse symptoms, attributable, until now, to what has been called a "sonic attack". Without going into clinical details (incidentally, only a few confusing ones have been provided to date), the "patients" complain of neurological and sensorial discomfort.

We only know that the cases differ from one to the next, that their intensity and the damage done vary, and, to make it all even murkier, noises have been detected in at least two different locations: a hotel and diplomats’ houses. Hence, the medical specialists' work is very difficult, as it can be very tough to establish a cause-effect relationship and identify those responsible.

However, in this game of speculation, a genuine detective story, a more circular than linear analysis prevails. This happened several months ago, during the heated fray of the American presidential campaign. Such a circumstance entails that looking for causes and culprits is not as important as beginning with the effects, the consequences, the "here and now". Why Havana and right now? What reaction is sought in “the other” through these individual “symptoms,” so aggressive and sly?

It is no secret that the opening of embassies in both capitals was a victory scored by the Obama Administration. The previous government adopted a "defiant-pacifist" style, stealthily negotiating, against the wishes of most of the Cuban-American congressmen, the relaxation of what remained of the embargo, and the Embassy. But the Cuban regime never followed through by improving the human rights situation on the Island, a pre-requisite stipulated by the Americans. Havana has been frankly defiant, and insistent: there is nothing in Cuba to change.

The re-inauguration of the embassy in Havana was a purgative that the regime had to swallow to improve its relations with Europe. The money began to flow, and the investors to arrive in groups. And the so-called "Common Position?" A question of time. Presumably, if Senator Clinton had won, as almost everyone expected, the number of embassy personnel was expected to increase, along with the official appointment of an ambassador. Given that dilemma, what was to be done? What is done against any enemy: increase vigilance.

The United States was, is and will always be an enemy to the Communist regime, whether it uses lane one or two. Its “weapons” are too dangerous. First, the indiscriminate, massive dissemination of information, which the people lack. An artillery barrage consisting of some magazines and digital newspapers, a couple of channels in Spanish, and a dozen documentaries on Cuba "before" and "after" would do irreparable damage. Then came the landing of unrestricted Cuban-Miami "troops," without restrictions, and the installation of trenches of private Cuban business throughout the West Indies. The final offensive of the major American companies, without any other limitation than Cuba's essential sovereignty, would inundate the island with franchises of banks, automobiles, hotels, restaurants and technology. The Cuban Revolution would soon be a sad nightmare.

Faced with this possibility, all that has to be done will be done. But maybe it was botched. Something went wrong. That's life: a trifling, unplanned development unleashes disaster. Now the specialists are not trained in Germany or in the USSR. They're not the guys from the Miramar Yacht Club, or the old PSP conspirators. Nor do they speak several languages. They do not know about good wines or aged malt whiskeys. They are not familiar with the Louvre in Paris, Rome's Vatican Hill, or the British Museum in London.

This incident could be just another blunder after the castling in the 90s between the "ministry" and the FAR (Revolutionary Armed Forces); an "error" like that which made possible the capture of Ana Belén Montes and the Red Avispa (espionage ring); a tragicomic "slip" like putting sacks of sugar on top of a pair of old planes bound for North Korea, and making them pass through the closely-watched Panama Canal. But every mistake can be taken advantage of, and any misstep can be capitalized on. The former boss was a master of this.

It may be plausible that the general/president was not aware of the novel devices that the boys from Línea and A placed in the Hotel Capri (what as a gringo doing in a hotel room "wired" from top to bottom?!) and in some residences of the North American mission. He can't control everything. He invited American specialists months after the fact because he really does not feel responsible. And, in the end, they will find nothing, as the group in charge of cleaning up the evidence has done its work efficiently.

By the time the FBI and other super-specialists arrived on the Island, almost all the noises had disappeared. Except for the embassy. But that "noise" is also about to disappear. Thus would the only objective be achieved: the world opened up to Cuba, and Castro did not open up to the world. The general/president can coolly say: "American Embassy? What for?"