US Considers Closing Embassy in Cuba

The US Embassy in Havana, Cuba. Photo: Raquel Perez Diaz

Over mysterious health symptoms

HAVANA TIMES – The United States is considering closing its embassy in Cuba after some diplomats suffered mysterious health problems in recent months, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said today, reported dpa news.

“We are evaluating it,” Tillerson said, when asked about speculation indicating the United States might close its embassy in Cuba, after it was announced that several diplomats serving on the island suffered minor brain injuries or permanent hearing loss due to supposed sonic attacks.

“It’s a very serious issue regarding the harm that certain individuals have suffered,” Tillerson said Sunday in a television interview with CBS News. “We’ve brought some of those people home.

Last month, the State Department reported that some diplomats had shown “certain types of symptoms” from an “attack on their health.” Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said last week that the case was being investigated.

Earlier, the US government had said that an “incident” last year in Havana left US diplomats with “a series of physical symptoms.” About 19 people are affected in total, according to the information. The first cases became known in late 2016.

The Canadian government also reported a similar case involving at least one of its diplomats in Cuba, who was treated at the hospital after showing “unusual symptoms” including headaches and hearing loss.

In retaliation, Washington expelled two Cuban diplomats in May of this year. But the Cuban government denied any kind of attack against foreign diplomats.

Former US President Barack Obama reestablished diplomatic relations with Cuba after more than 50 years and the embassy resumed operations in Havana in 2015.

President Trump took a number of steps to reverse some of Obama’s policies regarding Cuba, although the specific restrictions are still pending from the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the Treasury Department known as OFAC.

  • curt9954

    Did it ever occur to anybody that this whole thing might have been perpetrated by Rubio and Co. or the Miami Mafia with their contacts in Cuba. They never wanted a U.S. Embassy in Cuba and what better excuse is there to close the U.S. Embassy.

    • Edward Kale

      This matter will certainly be used by yes-man Rubio to oppose any rapprochement between the U.S. and Cuba.

  • Edward Kale

    Closing the U.S. Embassy is a bad idea. The Cuban Government, as you wrote, has denied “any kind of attack against foreign diplomats,” and any action against Canadian diplomats is completely illogical since Canada has continuously maintained good relations with Cuba. Of course there may have been unintentional consequences related to bugging devices, presumably theirs and not ours. Then too, there is the zyka virus, the symptoms of which include headaches and hearing loss.

    • Carlyle MacDuff

      Are you suggesting Edward Kale that the Government of Canada is lying? Secondly, if the cause as you suggest was Zika, why was no such diagnosis given and why were there permanent affects?

      • Jorge Porton de Laz

        I find it interesting that people forget Makarios, that the leader of a Nation thinks he can use the North to further the establishment of a free state, that I am mentioned. Who dear Carlyle was the first to break the Cuban blockade? And what price did we pay. Look it up!

        • Carlyle MacDuff

          Well Jorge, Sherritt International a Canadian company has been operating the nickel mining and involved in the energy sector (oil, gas, electricity) for many years. The US has taken no action against Canada, but has banned entry into the US by directors of the company. I think of Makarios in Cyprus but otherwise don’t get the connection.

          • Jorge Porton de Laz

            Finally I understand you Carlyle. It seems that you are thinking more of the economy than you are of energy. Movement. America is the most diverse energy producer on the planet, I assume you are familiar with the term qi. The black gold is still promoted, but we shouldn’t forget that gasoline is colourless, neither white nor black nor green nor yellow. Plastic is a good mode of transaction, but it makes it harder for the plants to communicate with their ancestors. You are preoccupied with the plot that switching to solar will make it impossible to breed. We are not animals. Cuba’s census is based on a triangle between Africa, Asia and Europe. So what? People move because their lives are in danger. Food, energy and building materials. Or have you forgotten??

      • Edward Kale

        No Carlyle, the Government of Canada is not lying. The point is that they are not blaming Cuba for the reported 5 Canadians who were affected. It is clearly not in Cuba’s interest to attack foreign diplomats, especially ours, because Cuba wants the embargo lifted. Who has trumped up these “mysterious health problems?” Hopefully not us (intentionally at any rate). We have to ask who benefits from worsening Cuban – American relations? The Republican administration? Russia? China? Certainly not Cuba!

        • Carlyle MacDuff

          I agree, that there is to date no proof that the Cuban goverrnment is responsible for the sonic attack. But, it is the responsibility of that government to find out who is and to publicly state whoever is the responsible party.

  • Tonya Welton

    just more american propaganda to keep americans out of Cuba

    • Carlyle MacDuff

      Does that make Cuba fortunate Tonya?

  • jhardin

    I returned from havana June 2017, within days I began to suffer vertigo along with headaches. Americans are suffering severe paranoia under number 45s reality show. My Dr. diagnosed my symptoms as inner ear infection perhaps related to humidity or infection caught while in the city.

    • Carlyle MacDuff

      If true, rather than being a cheap jibe, what was the bacterial or virus infection jhardin? You obviously doubt the veracity of the US and Canadian Governments and the effects upin staff, so why should others accept yours?

  • Phil Greene

    I am sorry that the US is in Cuba and want them out. All they want to do is stink up Cuba as they have tried to do since 1959

    • Carlyle MacDuff

      Phil Greene you gave me a good laugh! It was your use of the phrase “stink up Cuba”. For it brought to memory the hilarious LABIOFAM SA debacle when a decision was taken to diversify and to produce perfumes. That commenced with the dsiplay and promotion of the first two for men, at the annual gathering in Havana, when ‘Hugo’ and ‘Ernesto’ were presented.
      The ensuing Bruhaha was entertaining in the extreme. Raul Castro had a verbal fit and declared that the names of these two “sacred” people ought to be revered not utlised for commerce – and that punishment would follow for the instigators. It turned out that the Director General of LABIOFAM SA was Raul’s nephew (It’s an appropriately well paid position).
      So a ‘fall guy’ was found in the form of one Mario Valdes Rodriguez as the Director General pled ignorance of the whole business. He however wrote two page identical letters of grovelling apology on September 26, 2014 to the families of Hugo Chavez and Dr. Ernesto Guevara de Serna Lynch and signed them!
      Dr. Jose A. Fraga Castro
      Director General
      Grupo Empresarial LABIOFAM

      The incident does however reveal why it is that Cuba under the communist system is such an economic mess. Just imagine, the ‘Director General’ (equivalent to CEO) of the company, actually claimed to be unaware of new products produced by that company. But, whereas there are those who criticize family ties as a reason for people holding top positions, it is pursued in Cuba with alacrity.

  • Eric Amada

    1) When is the upcoming Cuban Parliamentary Election being held? 2) Who is the Trump Administration’s Chosen Candidate? 3) If there is any daylight in the lifting of Russian Sanctions, Tillerson’s attention will go 100% to that cause, and there will be no further discussion about Cuba.

  • David Fankhauser

    The wide variety of wildly variable signs and symptoms which differ significantly late from person to person, are consistent with this being an example of a form of mass hysteria. Occam’s razor suggests that the most likely explanation is one which is a combination of self diagnosis influenced by political prejudice, political advantage, and living in a stressful environment. Think Salem, Massachusetts in the 1620s…