HAVANA TIMES – The article published in Havana Times “Sonic Attacks: Cubans don’t take them sitting down“, by Michael Ritchie, reminded me of an article I read two days ago titled: Anne Frank Halloween Costume Sparks Internet Controversy.
In the photo, a smiling girl was posing with her simple dress and beret that identify the protagonist of an awful story. I remembered a book I had seen a few years ago. A compilation of texts and drawings made by children while they were in concentration camps. All of the words and pictures expressed a stifling dread mixed with the candor of childhood. I couldn’t read more than the first few pages. Does this girl “dressed up” as Anne know what fascism is? I asked myself.
The article about the sonic attacks in Cuba against US diplomats produced a similar effect in me. I was seriously doubting whether the author knew what it means to “have permanent hearing loss, migraines, fatigue, insomnia, cognitive impairments, among other illness…” Anyone who suddenly experiences something like this, and for no reason whatsoever, won’t want this to be mixed with with bathrooms or toilet seats or want Che included.
There’s no need to ridicule the pain of the victims that have been confirmed by doctors, or even the likelihood, even if it is to deny fault or just the Cuban government’s negligence.
There’s no need to ridicule the fact that once again it’s us Cubans that are in the middle of this new and strange war. Suffering the consequences of what is decided without our thoughts being taken into account and much less our consent.
Ordinary Cubans, indifferent to anything that doesn’t involve easing their struggle to survive, are hardly talking about this scabrous subject which we only have a partial account of that is peppered with extremism. If the government calls upon them to voice its alleged innocence in front of the US embassy, they will do this without a doubt, even if these ordinary Cubans then sabotage slogans, like when students were forced to go and demand that the boy Elian Gonzalez be returned. Protected by the commotion they shouted: Elian, take me to the US! Choosing to forget that families have been torn part by this sea and even the bodies lost in this abyss of water that an inefficient policy made insurmountable.
Here, we face misfortunes with bravado. And this is the reason why we have such a dysfunctional society. Jokes hide our frustation and fears, replacing protests and solutions.
Doubting the story of these sonic attacks and saying that they seem like something straight out of a science fiction novel. Intriguing, bordering on the absurd, captivating. And a foggy plot that couldn’t have a more complicated stage: countries that have had a tense relationship for a long time, who are extremely close to each other and hostility on both sides.
But we should get serious and recognize that, although the motives and weapon of these alleged “attacks/incidents” haven’t been identified, the health effects and the places where the abnormalities took place in the victims are real. That the Cuban government has failed to comply with the Vienna Convention, the international agreement that regulates diplomatic relations between countries and expresses the immunity of diplomats, as 22 diplomatic officials have been injured in our national territory.
Now, mutual stubbornness, ambiguity and opposition have given way to the plague. A tourist from South Carolina asked himself whether he too should be included on the list of those affected. He interrupted his trip to Cuba because he suddenly lost feeling in all four limbs just minutes after laying down in bed at the Capri hotel. The same place where Washington employees were staying. This rare illness lasted for months and confounded dozens of neurologists. When the news spread about the “sonic attacks”, his friends call him to ask whether he too had been a victim.
Cuba insists on denying its participation in these alleged attacks. But, it offered to collaborate in the investigation from the beginning. Doesn’t this mean that it accepts these incidents are real? And if that’s the case, does that mean that it also accepts that it was also vulnerable to the actions of a third country? Which tacitly means they accept their failure to protect diplomatic personnel?
Why then is the information that the Cuban people are receiving on the matter the worn-out rhetoric of imperialism-related lies, manipulation and reprisals? Why isn’t there a single and coherent argument?
Why aren’t these incidents being treated in a delicate and objective manner? For the first time in history the government admits having failed to fulfill its duty and to take concrete steps so that the US embassy by the sea no longer evokes terror. And do the same for Cubans who are waiting for their permanent visas or residence papers, so that officials, their relatives, or tourists who aspire for something as simple as not suffering future neurological aftershocks because they have stepped foot on this surreal island.