Is Cuba Responsible for “Havana Syndrome”? A little background on our relations with Cuba could give deeper insight. In a November 2018 article in the New Yorker titled "The Mystery of the Havana Syndrome", Adam Entous and Jon Lee Anderson discuss, among other things, Cuba's potential role in these attacks.
Apparently, in March 2016, President Obama flew to Havana to celebrate the resumption of diplomatic relations between the two nations—following some fifty years of antipathy and ill will. During the negotiations that took place prior to this meeting, the U.S. assumed the Russian intelligence agency would attempt to interfere—and there is some evidence they did.
As it turned out both American and Cuban officials were upset about what they perceived as “secret” negotiations leading up to the meeting. Cubans suspected President Obama’s real objective was regime change in Havana. Once the agreement was reached, America asked Cuba to ease restrictions on the number of U.S. diplomatic personnel that would be allowed to work in Cuba. Not unexpectedly, Cuba pushed back, under the theory that more Americans would equal more spies, and more human-rights personnel working with Cuban dissidents. Grudgingly, Cuba finally allowed an increase from 51 to 70 diplomatic personnel from America but Republicans in Congress blocked funding for the additional positions, so only 54 slots could be filled.
It was assumed Cuban intelligence would have listening devices in every possible location, so the State Department asked to send several large steel containers full of supplies that they did not want inspected. Much wrangling ensued between negotiators for almost six months before Cuba allowed one container for the embassy staff. John Brennan, director of the CIA, then flew into Havana to discuss increasing intelligence cooperation between Cuba and America. Brennan believed Cuba’s spy agencies to be among the “most capable” in Latin America.
While it is not widely known, Cuba’s intelligence officers have been extremely successful in recruiting American spies. Once the Cold War ended, Russia essentially abandoned Havana as a military outpost. This caused the CIA to concentrate less on Cuba—yet everything Cuba did was laser-focused on the United States. While America believed good relationships were now firmly established between Cuba and America, Cuba’s foreign minister later described the visit of President Obama as an “attack on our history, culture, and symbols.” Many in Cuba feared American overtures were merely a pretext for increasing their influence in Cuba, and during a Havana military parade, soldiers chanted “We will make war if imperialism comes.”
When Fidel Castro died, 17 days after Trump’s election, his statement was far from diplomatic, threatening to terminate the deal President Obama had worked out, and calling Castro a “brutal dictator,” with a legacy of “firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty, and the denial fundamental human rights.” Soon after, a CIA officer under diplomatic cover in Havana visited the Embassy health office, claiming to have experienced strange sensations of sound and pressure in his home, followed by chronic, severe headaches and vertigo.
This CIA officer said he had been subjected to constant surveillance and even tampering with his belongings and intrusions into his home since coming to Cuba. Since Cuban intelligence was well aware of where every single U.S. diplomat lived, constantly watching them closely, this fits into the attacks as well. Soon after came the attack on numerous Americans in Cuba; this is when their symptoms began to be called “Havana Syndrome.” So, while the Cuban government (of course) denied responsibility, it actually had plenty of reasons to want to sabotage Americans in Cuba.