Sonic Attacks, US Response and Cuba’s Reaction

By Pedro Campos

Photo: Yosvany Deya

HAVANA TIMES — The US government has responded to the alleged sonic attacks against its diplomats in Havana by withdrawing 60% of these and it has also asked US citizens to refrain from traveling to Cuba given the current situation. As a result of this cut in personnel, visa applications will not be processed for an indefinite period of time. The statement adds that this will last until the Cuban government can guarantee the safety of US diplomats in Cuba.

The Cuban government has responded to this with anger because they believe that the US has acted in haste and has just used these events that haven’t been confirmed yet as an excuse to please the “Miami mafia” and end the course that normalizing US-Cuba relations were taking, which began under Obama.

The main measure that the US government has just taken makes absolute sense, after having come up against these “attacks” for a year and then the following exchanges with the Cuban government. In these circumstances, the least the US could do would be to ensure the safety and health of its diplomats by withdrawing them. Even for some people, this measure has come a little too late and if it had been enforced beforehand, other “attacks” would have been prevented.

The Cuban government’s response is supported by the fact that there still isn’t any proof that Cuba is directly responsible for these events, “forgetting” that the hearing damage that US diplomats have suffered has taken place on Cuban soil and as stipulated in the Vienna Convention, which it signed, the receiving government is responsible for the safety of foreign diplomats in its country.

Photo: Yosvany Deya

Castro’s government has said that it was investigating these incidents, even collaborating with the FBI, but they haven’t been able to find out what it was that caused the attacks. The US government doesn’t seem to be satisfied with this response as the Cuban government’s measures seem insufficient and late to them.

Even though some people want to present this as a science fiction story and even though the “murder weapon” hasn’t been found, the dates on which these incidents took place, the nature of the targets attacked, studying timetables and places, could have been enough to find some clues, given the high level of control that Cuba’s State Security has on its targets of top interest, which US diplomats form a part of, there’s no doubt about that.

In a nutshell, with all of the 24/7 control, using all of the National Counterintelligence’s means and techniques on US diplomats, in a country under State Security’s absolute control, it’s hard to believe that the Cuban government “didn’t know anything and that General Castro is bewildered.”

Instead of insisting on a close collaboration with US authorities, Castro’s government has chosen to declare, via its ambassador, that “there isn’t any proof to confirm these incidents that were allegedly affecting diplomats”, as if hearing loss wasn’t proof enough. This has thereby given room for the sinister conspiracy theory that it was made up so that Trump could fulfill his campaign promise of taking apart Obama’s policy.

By putting the existence of harm to diplomats in doubt, Castro and his associates have given a push to the path of breaking relations and are risking a very dangerous course for the national crisis, which could develop into response actions of unpredictable scale.

However, the Trump conspiracy theory doesn’t seem to be sustainable due to three essential reasons: the attacks began during Obama’s Administration; that Canadian diplomats were also affected, this would also involve Trudeau’s government, which is a friend of Cuba’s, and finally, it was the Castros that boycotted the thawing process with the pronouncement from the still alive Commander Fidel titled “Brother Obama”, because the US President’s trip to Havana put all of the “revolutionary” apparatus in a crisis.

The United States Embassy in Havana.

The US government’s measures haven’t gone as far as closing down the Embassy, but it has put US-Cuba relations on a much poorer level to what they were when there was a US Interests Office. They have undoubtedly affected the people-to-people contact, family visits, tourism, as well as the parallel market that “mules” have created. The Cuban government will be greatly affected in a loss of revenues as will many entrepreneurs linked to greater US-Cuba exchange and Cuban families in general.

These measures, which have come just after Hurricane Irma swept through the island, are being felt a lot more by ordinary Cubans than the ruling group in government who, at the end of the day, didn’t lose anything with the hurricane and they have always taken political advantage of the embargo policy.

Once again, Castroism will “use this” to blame “Imperialism” for its own disasters, which combined with the continual lack of information that the Cuban people have been subjected to for more than a half a century, will lead many Cubans to believe the story, although it’s true that there are less and less people who trust the government media.

However, in reality, the only thing to blame for the Cuban people’s miserable situation is the Castro brothers’ dictatorship with its hyper-centralization and property concentration and the profits it makes by exploiting state salaried workers. It is also responsible for US-Cuba relations not growing stronger, because it is only interested in draining money from the “Empire and Cuban community abroad”, without taking any serious steps to the free exchange of people and capital and without facilitating real family reunification.

In the face of the Cuban authorities’ inability to give a convincing answer to its US counterpart, the General’s government should at least ask for the people in charge of foreign diplomats’ safety to resign.

If Havana is interested in not damaging its relationship with the US any further, and if it is looking to at least to go back to how things were before this, it should start by showing less pride and taking a humane stance of solidarity with the victims, instead of putting whether they were affected or not into question.

  • old_CT

    The writer of this article seems to be suggesting that the Cuban government should just roll over and accept whatever the US says. The question that everyone interested in this saga ought to ask themselves is this, “How would upsetting the US by making its diplomats I’ll benefit Cuba?”

    • Carlos Gonzalez

      This article almost sounds like it was written in Miami.

    • Hans Frankfort

      The US has been playing the world bully for years, and not only to Cuba. The media fails to explain why nations like North Korea and Venezuela behave that way when they feel threatened. If this was the other way around, the US would behave the same way.

      • Joseph

        Okay. Let’s discuss U.S. “bullying.” What specifically are you referring to? You can list as many examples as you’d like. I don’t mind. In fact I welcome it. All I ask is that you keep it relatively contemporary. 50 years?

        • Hans Frankfort

          Have you ever been bullied as a child in grade school? This is how the world community feels about the US under Trump by either threatening or bossing around. Using American taxpayer money, including my hard earned dollars, the military at the tune of more than 600 billion dollars annually, more than half of the government budget, is like a giant octopus spreading its tentacles in every corner of the globe. The US can do better than that! You need to look up examples of bullying yourself dating as far back as the Mexican war in 1845; as a result Mexico lost more than half of its territory. And don’t forget 1898 when US warships took all the Spanish territories in the Caribbean and the Pacific and forcibly annexed the Kingdom of Hawaii against the will of its people. If you educate yourself, you won’t find these comments unsettling as most Americans have a poor knowledge of history. In spite of issues that the Cubans themselves have to deal with, I don’t like to see Cuba return to the bad old days before the 1959 revolution when the island was under American economic and social occupation with a puppet government in charge. Cuba’s sovereignty must be respected as it is their country, not ours!

          • Joseph Marti

            Why stop at 1898? Let’s go back to Columbus and work our way forward to see how many bullies really exist. Further? Don’t you see how pointless this tact is?
            I am certainly not one to say “if you don’t like it here, go to….” but you certainly have a positive view of the way Cuba comports itself. As one of the original bullies would say “naive, intellectually soft idealist speaks with forked tongue.” Just to be clear, I am paraphrasing a quote. I wouldn’t be so rude as to say that to you.

          • Hans Frankfort

            I appreciate your polite remarks above, Joseph. The country that has the most and more than enough than it needs is often the world’s bully, followed by Russia and China. Whatever the current US government does locally and internationally will have an impact on the personal lives of American residents.

      • Nick

        Excellent comments Hans.
        Totally agree with you.
        US foreign policy finally started to move in a positive direction under President Obama.
        Unfortunately it has taken a big turn backwards since the end of his tenure.

        • Hans Frankfort

          Good you are in agreement, Nick. President Obama definitely improved his foreign policy with the world community and he received respect and admiration from the international community. I do miss him, and I hope that all registered Democrats and progressives vote in the mid-term elections in 2018 to recapture both houses in Congress. Then they can start impeachment proceedings against this incompetent president; with a Democrat in the White House, Congress can permanently do away with the trade embargo against Cuba and fully restore relations with the beautiful people on that island.

          • Nick

            Well said Hans.
            I agree with you entirely.
            I often put down US foreign policy.
            But I always stress that I have nothing against the good people of the USA.
            I believe these good people make up the majority and hope that this will always be the case.

          • Hans Frankfort

            That’s why it is very important for these good people to participate in the democratic process, vote and throw the bums out in Congress and the WH!

    • Joseph

      No. They don’t have to roll over, but they do have to accept the decision. Although this incident goes way beyond espionage, it is at a minimum supportable for the U.S. not to share it’s findings on evidence.

      How does it benefit Cuba?? First, the Castros have always hated the U.S., psychopathically so. Raul even more extreme than his brother. Success with, or complacency, would open a world of opportunity for Raul and his ilk.

  • Hans Frankfort

    There is no way that Cuba’s government is working against its own interests after gaining diplomatic recognition by former President Obama! The whole incident is orchestrated by Florida’s Republican senator, who was never born and lived in Cuba for his entire life, and he calls Cuban diplomats in Washington “operatives.” Little Marco wants to downgrade America’s embassy in Havana back to an interests section before full diplomatic relations were established. This move goes against the wishes of the Cuban community in Miami, especially the younger generation who are rapidly replacing the aging Cubans and want to move onward. What has diplomats have to do with the thousands of tourists who come to Cuba daily! The GOP is going out of its way to undo everything that the previous administration had accomplished. Shame on the US government and again my apologies to the Cuban people who have to live with the consequences when they really need our encouragement and help!

    • Joseph

      I find your comment unsettling on so many fronts.
      Let’s start with “what has a few (sic) diplomats have to do with thousands of tourists…?”
      For the sake of discussion focus, let’s just assume attacks are real. Are you insinuating that tourism industry is more important than state sponsored clandestine bodily harm to guests? I’m confused on this one.

  • Nick

    This is a disturbingly pro imperialist article.
    I know HT wishes to publish all viewpoints but is this type of nonsense really justifiable?

    • Joseph

      Please share with me precisely what is not “justifiable. “

      • Nick

        Regardless of anyone’s individual opinion regarding the merits or defects of the Cuban system of governance, Cuba is undeniably a sovereign country with a right to self determination.
        Cuba has paid a high price for resisting de facto US rule over Latin America and the Caribbean (imperialism). In an attempt to stop Cuba becoming an example to other nations in the region, the USA has used a variety of methods over the past few decades (from overt and covert attacks to the obvious economic embargo). To this day the USA provides security and a safe haven for terrorists who have committed murderous acts against entirely innocent Cubans.
        I would agree with you that everyone has a viewpoint.
        I can’t see how anyone can justify a viewpoint which seems to insist that Cuba dances to the nauseating, trump-led US tune.
        I sense that this article is written from the perspective that Cuba should indeed dance to this corrupt tune.
        However as I say, I would have to agree with your suggestion that everyone has a right to a viewpoint no matter how ‘unjustifiable’ that viewpoint may be.

        • Joseph Marti

          Thank you for your response Nick.
          OK:
          1. Agreed as to Cuban sovereignty. Can we agree the same for the US? If so, if the US government believes its diplomats/citizens are in imminent danger, withdrawal of such needs no cow-towing to the Cubans. Make a determination and take action (withdraw them). US is under no obligation to provide detailed “evidence.” In fact, it is likely against their interests to do so. Regardless, each takes action as they see fit.
          2. De facto rule? No country – including both US and Cuba – should be obligated to do business with or have normalized relations with others it finds contradict its values. Don’t like the US? Don’t do business with us. Fidel and most of his comrades took that route very early in his political career.
          3. As you can hopefully by the above, Cuba should dance to its own mambo. I insist, actually.
          4. Let’s keep Trump out of this. Nice thing about the US is that he serves 4 years and he’s out. Much shorter hopefully. I still believe he won’t last much into 2018. Hmmmm….What do Cubans do if they don’t like their leaders?
          5. Again I ask, cutting the propaganda crap, what does “Imperialism” really mean? From your perspective of course, not something you are just parroting.
          6. For bonus points, can you reconcile answer to #5 above with Angola, Grenada, ….?

    • Joseph

      Justifiable? Are you shouldn’t are you saying it shouldn’t be allowed viewpoint? Are you a party official? Aspiring to be? Or just intolerant?

      Okay comrade. Let’s get some Basics out of the way so we can be on the same page. Imperialism? What does that mean in the Communist Cuban perspective ? I’d like to hear what you have to say about this? Really. Let’s have a discussion.

  • ParaLaUAZ!

    I haven’t visited HT much in the past few years, as the content has continued to increasingly skew to the right-wing wacko side of things. This article just shows me that I was right to stay away. Adios, Miami!

  • I reject the implicit assumption by both author Pedro Campos and respondents here that the Cuban government and the US government desire better relations. Looking through realism glasses, actions indicate the contrary.

    Relations between the Cuban population and the US population remain good as they have for years. The differences are only with the two governments.

    The Cuban government needs to be able to point to the US as justification for the country’s dismal economic situation. Without poor relations with the US, the Cuban government would be forced to acknowledge that Cuba’s economic situation is caused by the Cuban government. Yet, the relations with the US government does not negatively impact Cuba’s economics. Contrary to popular first look opinions, the US trade embargo currently imposes no restrictions. Despite challenges, no one can come up with a real life current example of the embargo having any effect. True, the recent US State Department announcements of the last ten days may have some small impact on US tourism. But we must keep in mind that tourist is a small part of Cuba’s economy and the US portion of total tourism is minor. Some from the US tend to overestimate their importance. (FWIW, I am from Florida)

    The current US government has no concern about relations with Cuba. The current administration does not have concern about the rest of the world or its opinion of the US. There is no economic impact from Cuba as US agricultural exports to Cuba are is driven by necessity from the Cuban side and economic factors from the US side, not how well the two governments get along.

    While the merits of the above can be debated as related issues, we cannot overlook the basic fact that neither government is pushing for good relations.

    • Hans Frankfort

      …especially if one government tries to destroy the other. If I were a Cuban living on the island, I’d be wary of US intentions. Hopefully Cuba may eventually evolve into a parliamentary democracy and follow the examples of former Communist nations in Eastern Europe; that decision alone is up to the Cuban people!

      • Don’t confuse the Cuban people’s view of the US with that of the Cuban government. I see little relationship between them. And the same can be said for people in the US and the US government.

        If only the two governments could get along as well as the citizens do, we would not be having these discussions.

        • Hans Frankfort

          The governments involved never have any interests for the people they claim to represent. Popular viewpoints matter more than their governments; again, the Cuban people should make their own decisions as we have in ours.