US embassy staff in Colombia with ‘Havana syndrome’ ahead of Blinken’s visit

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At least five American families associated with the Colombian embassy have shown symptoms of the mysterious ‘Havana syndrome’, a potentially brain-damaging condition first detected in American diplomats in Cuba in 2016, just days before US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is scheduled to visit.

The Wall Street Journal reported that staff at the US resort in Bogota were first alerted to an ‘unexplained health incident’ in an email in mid-September, which was later followed by an internal warning of “additional abnormal health incidents” in early October.

At least five families linked to the embassy, ​​which is one of the largest and most important American diplomatic outposts in the world, have shown symptoms associated with the mysterious illness, including headaches, nausea and d possible brain damage.

The Colombian cases are just the latest of dozens of Havana syndrome cases encountered by US diplomats and intelligence officials since 2016 – first in Cuba, then in China, Germany, Australia, Taiwan and the rest of the world. the American capital.

The Wall Street Journal quoted a former high-ranking US diplomat as saying that, as in other cases around the world, some of the Americans affected at the Colombian embassy work in intelligence.

“Overall it was weighted in favor of the intelligence community,” the former diplomat told the newspaper.

The cause of the illnesses has not been fully diagnosed and the identity of the perpetrator, if any, has not been revealed.

Suspected microwave attacks

Bogota’s outbreak comes just days before US Secretary of State Blinken is due to visit on October 20.

On Friday, US President Joe Biden signed legislation providing financial compensation for members of the State Department and CIA who suffer brain damage from what officials suspect were directed microwave attacks.

On Tuesday, Colombian President Ivan Duque said his government was aware of the Havana Syndrome cases at the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, but was leaving the investigation to Washington “because it acts of their own staff,” he told reporters in New York during an official visit to the United States.

After the first recorded incident of Havana Syndrome in 2016, the Cuban government investigated the case, but repeatedly dismissed US statements about it as misinformation.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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