President Donald Trump blamed the Cuban government Monday for possible “sonic attacks” that have sickened at least 22 American diplomats and their families. “It’s a very unusual attack,” Trump said, “but I do believe Cuba is responsible.” The administration expelled 15 Cuban diplomats from Washington earlier this month over the suspicions, but notably avoided accusing the government in Havana outright, as questions remained over mysterious symptoms that afflicted the U.S. officials. They included permanent hearing loss, mild traumatic brain injury, brain swelling, and ear ringing.
Now, this bizarre case gets even weirder: U.S. tourists may have also been hit by these strange attacks. A South Carolina man told the Associated Press that he was hit with mysterious symptoms while staying in the Hotel Capri in Havana in 2014, where at least some of the American personnel were also sickened. Chris Allen, now a 37-year-old finance professional who has previously worked in GOP politics, said after climbing into bed after his first day in Cuba, he felt a strange numbing sensation:
The tingling originated in his toes, like that prickly feeling when your foot falls asleep. It spread into his ankles and calves, then to his fingertips. He got up to investigate, and the sensation went away. He got back in bed. The tingling returned, reaching his hands, forearms, ears, cheek and neck.
Allen said he experienced the same symptoms the second night, though with more intensity. He returned home that morning, though the numbing sensation persisted for months, sending him to doctors and specialists for a slew of medical tests, with few answers. Then, years later, when news broke about U.S. personnel affected with unexplained symptoms at the Hotel Capri, it clicked. “I wanted to wave a flag and be like, I know this, I know what it is like to stay there and have something weird happen to your body and not be able to explain it,” Allen told the Associated Press.
The Associated Press said it had received tips from at least three dozen Americans who also claim to have been afflicted with various ailments, though there are serious doubts over whether these had any ties to the attacks allegedly suffered by U.S. personnel. The State Department has also said it’s received “a handful of reports” from U.S. citizens, though it added that it could not verify the attacks.
Nevertheless, Allen’s symptoms cropped up in 2014; the State Department officials began reporting these incidents in late 2016 up until August of this year. Allen did not pick up any vibrations or loud sounds in the hotel, which some — but not all — diplomats reported hearing.
The State Department has issued a travel warning to American tourists in the wake of the still-unsolved incidents, saying it can’t guarantee their safety. It had also reportedly put some sort of restrictions on U.S. officials staying at two Havana hotels, one of them being the Hotel Capri.