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Cuba Puts Its Scientists Online To Dispute Washington's Sonic Attack Claims

The Acoustic Attacks and Science
Gobierno de Cuba
Cuban neurologist Nelson Gomez discussing acoustic science during the Cuban government's online forum this week.

We still don’t know what or who caused the alleged sonic attacks that injured U.S. diplomats in Havana. Which is why Cuba put its own scientists online this week to debunk the claims.

Some two dozen personnel at the U.S. embassy in Havana say they were victims of acoustic attacks. The high-pitched sonic blasts started last year and caused hearing loss and other illnesses.

In response, the Trump administration has expelled personnel from the Cuban embassy in Washington, and the dispute has strained restored U.S.-Cuba relations. But U.S. officials still say they don’t know for certain who or what was behind the attacks.

The Cuban government insists it doesn’t know either. And it accuses the U.S. of rushing to judgment without a thorough, bilateral investigation. So this week it opened a two-day (Wednesday and Thursday) online forum – called “The Acoustic Attacks and Science” – to let its own scientists weigh in.

Most if not all said sonic devices could not cause what the Americans claim. One top Cuban neurologist argued that only shock waves – faster and stronger than sound waves – could do that.

Their conclusions may not surprise many people: Scientists in communist countries don’t often contradict their governments in public. But the forum did offer some interesting debates, like one about whether this could have involved infrasound – barely audible sound that sometimes can be harmful.


Tim Padgett is the Americas editor for Miami NPR affiliate WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida.