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3 Mar, 2023 23:54

Payouts to Havana Syndrome victims to continue indefinitely

US intelligence agencies found “no credible evidence” to pin the mysterious malaise on a foreign adversary
Payouts to Havana Syndrome victims to continue indefinitely

The US government will continue paying benefits to employees afflicted with the mysterious condition known as Havana Syndrome, a State Department spokesman told the Wall Street Journal on Friday, citing an open-ended 2021 law enabling government agencies to provide financial support to affected individuals.

Anyone who meets the “necessary criteria” is eligible for a monthly financial benefit, reimbursement of medical costs, and workers’ compensation, according to the spokesman – even as US intelligence agencies this week failed to support the notion that the condition is some sort of attack by foreign powers.

Wednesday’s report found “no pattern to connect reported cases to a potential cause,” nor any evidence to back up affected employees’ claims of being targeted by an ultra-high-tech energy or sonic weapon. This made it “very unlikely” that a rival state could be the source of sufferers’ health troubles, especially because Russia and China – Washington’s nemeses du jour – weren’t known to possess any energy weapons capable of causing such ailments, the report reasoned.

Havana Syndrome is associated with symptoms including dizziness, headache, fatigue, anxiety, cognitive difficulties, nausea, and memory loss, often accompanied by a high-pitched sound. Some diplomats have even left the foreign service, claiming the illness left them unable to work. 

While previous efforts to solve the Havana Syndrome mystery have determined the cause of the odd sound associated with symptoms is a local cricket species, the latest report blamed preexisting conditions, environmental factors, and “conventional” illnesses for patients’ malaise – conclusions almost certain to infuriate patients who already don’t think the CIA and State Department are taking their conditions seriously enough.

Neither the State Department nor the CIA would reveal how many employees have been compensated for Havana Syndrome injuries, or how much they were paid, according to the Wall Street Journal, but a report last year cited internal sources who said “qualifying injuries” could net the bearer as much as $200,000. About 1,500 reports of Havana Syndrome have been reported in total across 96 countries.

The ailment first surfaced among American diplomats at the newly-opened US Embassy in Havana 2016 and was more recently renamed Anomalous Health Incidents as the Biden administration attempted to thaw relations with Cuba. Deputy foreign minister Carlos Fernandez de Cossio earlier this week nevertheless accused Washington of using “unfounded allegations, like ‘sonic attacks,’” to justify the continuation of more than half a century of sanctions.

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