Chris Allen's phone started buzzing as word broke that invisible attacks in Cuba had hit a US government worker at Havana's Hotel Capri. Allen's friends and family had heard an eerily similar story from him before. The tourist from South Carolina had cut short his trip to Cuba two years earlier after numbness spread through all four of his limbs within minutes of climbing into bed at the same hotel where the American government workers were housed. Those weren't the only parallels, per the AP, which examined his medical records. A conclusive link is all but impossible to make, but Allen for one is sure the incidents must be related. He has thus joined a growing list of private US citizens asking the same alarming but unanswerable question: Were we victims, too?
It may be that Allen's unexplained illness, which lingered for months and bewildered a half-dozen neurologists in the US, bears no connection to whatever has harmed at least 22 American diplomats, intelligence agents, and their spouses over the last year. But for Cuba and the US, it matters all the same. It's cases like Allen's that illustrate the essential paradox of Havana's mystery: If you can't say what the attacks are, how can you say what they're not? One troubling fact is true for tourists and embassy workers alike: There's no test to definitively say who may have been attacked with a mysterious, unseen weapon and whose symptoms might be entirely unrelated. The United States, meanwhile, hasn't disclosed what criteria prove its assertion that 22 embassy workers and their spouses are "medically confirmed" victims. Click for the full story, with more details on Allen's case.
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