Categories for Cuba
CHINA/CUBA/SANCTIONS/TECHNOLOGY/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “U.S. sanctions on Cuba are deterring American firms from exploring its telecommunications sector even as Washington seeks to expand internet access on the Communist-run island, according to the final report of a U.S. government task force released on Tuesday [6-25-29]. Chinese companies dominate Cuba’s telecoms sector, a status quo ‘worth challenging given concerns that the Cuban government potentially obtains its censorship equipment from Chinese Internet infrastructure providers,’ the report said. Cuba’s government protested the U.S. State Department’s creation of a Cuba Internet Task Force last year as ‘foreign interference.’ It remains unclear how open it would be to U.S. investment in the strategic telecoms sector…U.S. presidents have successively tightened and loosened the decades-old U.S. trade embargo on Cuba imposed in the years after its 1959 revolution. Former President Barack Obama created a loophole for U.S. telecommunications companies to provide certain services to Cuba.”
-Sarah Marsh, “U.S. sanctions put telecoms firms off Cuba, internet task force says,” Reuters, June 25, 2019 4:55 pm
CUBA/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “On this Cuban Independence Day, we stand by the people of Cuba in their quest for freedom, democracy and prosperity. The Cuban regime must end its repression of Cubans & Venezuelans. The United States will not stand idly by as Cuba continues to subvert democracy in the Americas!”
–Donald Trump, Twitter.com, May 20, 2019 12:28 pm
CUBA/ECONOMY/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT/VENEZUELA: “The battle for Cuba’s economic future is being waged on its beaches. And at its all-inclusive resorts, dive sites and cobblestoned colonial plazas. As most of Cuba’s economy stagnates or declines, the country has launched a full-scale effort to turn virtually the only bright spot — tourism — into an engine that can drag the rest of the communist island through its worst economic crisis in two decades. In government meetings and propaganda, it has now set a goal of drawing 5 million tourists in 2019 — perhaps the modern-day equivalent of its Soviet-era dependence on the annual sugar-harvest production…Across the Florida Straits, the Trump administration is intently focused on scaling back tourism to the island as part of a campaign to smother the Cuban economy and force its government to sever ties with President Nicolás Maduro’s government in Venezuela. Trump recently activated a section of the 1996 U.S. law known as Helms-Burton, allowing lawsuits against foreign companies doing business on properties confiscated after the island’s socialist revolution.”
–Andrea Rodriguez, “Cuba still welcoming tourists despite Trump restrictions,” USA Today, May 17, 2019 3:49 pm
CUBA/SANCTIONS/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “….embargo, together with highest-level sanctions, will be placed on the island of Cuba. Hopefully, all Cuban soldiers will promptly and peacefully return to their island!”
–Donald Trump, Twitter.com, April 30, 2019 4:09 pm
CUBA/MILITARY/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT/VENEZUELA: “If Cuban Troops and Militia do not immediately CEASE military and other operations for the purpose of causing death and destruction to the Constitution of Venezuela, a full and complete….”
–Donald Trump, Twitter.com, April 30, 2019 4:09 pm
CUBA/FOREIGN POLICY/TRADE WAR/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “The Trump administration is expected to announce its plan to enforce a controversial provision of the decades-old trade embargo on Cuba Wednesday [4-17-19], a senior administration official tells CNN — a decision that will break with the precedent set by every President since Bill Clinton. US National Security Adviser John Bolton is set to outline President Donald Trump’s plan to fully implement Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, a previously suspended section of the US trade embargo on the Communist-run country during a speech in Miami, the official said. It is a move that is widely considered to be part of the administration’s efforts to ramp up pressure on Havana over its support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro — who Trump criticized as a ‘Cuban puppet’ in February. Cuban officials have decried the increased sanctions on the communist-run island and offered to enter into negotiations to repay US companies for seized property. During a speech in Miami last year, Bolton promised the crowd a tough US approach to the ‘troika of tyranny,’ his term for Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, saying they represented ‘the perils of poisonous ideologies left unchecked.’”
–Zachary Cohen and Jennifer Hansler, “Trump expected to become first President to target Cuba with this controversial policy,” CNN Politics, CNN.com, April 16, 2019 8:52 pm
CUBA/EU/FOREIGN POLICY/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT/WTO: “The Trump administration will announce on Wednesday [4-17-19] a big shift in policy toward Cuba by allowing U.S. individuals to file legal claims against foreign companies that conduct business in Cuba, a senior administration official told POLITICO. The move represents a new hard-line stance against the island nation, which has been accused of providing assistance to the embattled regime of Venezuela’s Maduro government. A law on the books has long been delayed by previous administrations through waivers. Enforcing it could exacerbate trade tensions with allies like Canada and the European Union, which have had companies doing business in Cuba for years. White House national security adviser John Bolton is expected to unveil the policy as part of new actions he will announce against Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua during a speech in Miami on Wednesday. The European Union has already warned the U.S. it would challenge the action in a WTO dispute and said the move would trigger an unending chain of countersuits against U.S. companies operating in Europe.”
–Adam Behsudi, “U.S. to announce tough new policy on businesses in Cuba,” Politico, April 16, 2019 5:51 pm
CUBA/FOFEIGN POLICY/LAWSUITS/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “President Trump has approved a move intended to further choke off foreign investment in Cuba by lifting longstanding limits on American citizens seeking to sue over property confiscated by the Havana government going back to Fidel Castro’s revolution six decades ago, a senior administration official said on Tuesday [4-16-19]. The decision, a sharp departure from the policy of the last three presidents, could open the floodgates to thousands of lawsuits against foreign companies and individuals accused of ‘trafficking’ in seized property. By doing so, Mr. Trump hopes to raise the pressure on Cuba, but risks another rupture with American allies in Europe and Canada that scrambled in vain in recent days to head off the change. The action will be announced by the State Department on Wednesday [4-17-19] and discussed by the president’s national security adviser, John R. Bolton, in a speech in Miami marking the 58th anniversary of the Bay of Pigs operation that failed to topple the Castro government during the early days of John F. Kennedy’s administration. Mr. Trump is trying to force Havana to back off its support for Venezuela’s leader, Nicolás Maduro, whom administration officials said Cuba had propped up with more than 20,000 troops.”
–Peter Baker, “To Pressure Cuba, Trump Plans to Lift Limits on American Lawsuits,” The New York Times online, April 16, 2019
CUBA/FOREIGN POLICY/VENEZUELA/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “The White House is expected to give details about U.S. President Donald Trump’s Venezuela and Cuba policy on Thursday [11-1-18] when national security adviser John Bolton travels to Miami to give an address on Latin America. Days ahead of high-stakes elections in Florida, home to many migrants from the region, Bolton will deliver his remarks at Freedom Tower, a building where Cuban refugees were welcomed in the 1960s after leaving the Communist-controlled island. Almost 2 million Venezuelans have fled since 2015, driven out by food and medicine shortages, hyperinflation, and violent crime. Thousands have made their way to south Florida. Bolton’s speech will come a day after Trump was due to campaign in Florida for Republican candidates in tight Senate and gubernatorial races in the Nov. 6 elections, and a day before former President Barack Obama was scheduled to rally Democrats in Miami.”
–Roberta Rampton, “Trump’s Venezuela and Cuba policy in focus in Bolton speech in Florida,” Reuters, October 31, 2018 8:54 am
CUBA/FOREIGN POLICY/NATIONAL SECURITY/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT/TRUMP PEOPLE: “President Trump is poised to promote an international finance official tied to Sen. Marco Rubio to lead Western Hemisphere Affairs at the National Security Council, making him the fourth member of an unofficial team of top pro-democracy Cuba hard-liners who are executing and advocating the administration’s Latin American policies. Mauricio Claver-Carone, an attorney who rose to prominence in conservative foreign policy circles as a writer for the Capitol Hill Cubans blog and as the executive director of the U.S. Cuba Democracy PAC, advised Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. He then joined Trump’s transition team for the U.S. Treasury Department, where he was instrumental in U.S. sanctions on Venezuela’s president, who was labeled a ‘dictator’ by the Trump administration. Now the acting U.S. executive director at the International Monetary Fund, Claver-Carone will work under National Security Advisor John Bolton and coordinate White House policy with the State, Treasury and other departments. Reached by phone, Claver-Carone said he couldn’t comment.”
–Marc Caputo, “Trump packs foreign policy team with Cuba hardliners from Florida,” Politico, August 31, 2018 1:12 pm
CUBA/REX TILLERSON/STATE: “The U.S. will make staff reductions at its embassy in Havana permanent, the State Department said Friday [3-2-18], as officials have so far failed to determine the source of ‘health attacks’ against personnel stationed there.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had ordered most staff except for emergency personnel to leave the embassy in September. The so-called attacks, which began in late 2016 and continued on and off into the summer of 2017, affected at least 24 U.S. embassy officials or family members, with symptoms including dizziness, headaches, hearing loss and mild brain damage.
The State Department said Friday that the U.S. will initiate a plan that will keep in place reduced staffing levels that amounted to half of the personnel posted there after the embassy reopened in 2015 under then-President Barack Obama. There now will be about two dozen staffers there.
Diplomats assigned to Havana no longer will be allowed to bring family members along, an arrangement common to dangerous assignments such as in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
-Felicia Schwartz, “U.S. Permanently Reduces Staff at Embassy in Cuba,” The Wall Street Journal online, Mar. 2, 2018 02:14pm
CUBA/FBI/STATE: “A group of American diplomats stationed in Havana appear to have symptoms of concussion without ever having received blows to their heads, medical experts have found.
The diplomats originally were said to have been victims of a ‘sonic attack,’ a possibility that the Federal Bureau of Investigation reportedly ruled out in January.
The experts’ report, published late Wednesday [2-14-18] in the journal JAMA, does not solve the mystery, instead raising even more questions about what could have caused the brain injuries.
The incidents occurred in 2016, when 18 of the 21 affected diplomats reported they heard strange sounds in their homes or hotel rooms… All but one reported immediate symptoms: headache, pain in one ear, loss of hearing. Days or weeks later, other symptoms emerged, including memory problems, an inability to concentrate, mood problems, headaches and fatigue.
The State Department asked researchers at the University of Pennsylvania to investigate. Their report confirmed neurological problems in the diplomats, including signs of what appear to be concussions…
Other experts were less convinced, noting inherent weaknesses in such a study despite the expertise of the group conducting it. It would be premature, they said, to conclude there is a mysterious new medical syndrome with an unknown cause.”
-Gina Kolata, “Diplomats in Cuba Suffered Brain Injuries. Experts Still Don’t Know Why.,” The New York Times online, Feb. 15, 2018
CUBA/FOREIGN POLICY/GOP: “U.S. supporters of improved relations with Cuba joined the top leadership of the Caribbean country on Sunday [1-28-18] to inaugurate a replica of a New York statue of its independence hero Jose Marti.
Just a few years ago, the hundreds gathered for the event overseen by Cuban President Raul Castro would have been in a celebratory mood, but the brief ceremony at daybreak in Havana’s colonial district was a sober affair.
With the advent of the Republican administration in Washington, a pall has fallen over the two countries’ fragile detente.
U.S. President Donald Trump, whose hometown of New York donated the statue, has imposed new restrictions on travel and trade with the Communist-run island and disparaged what he calls the ‘terrible and misguided’ policy of his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, toward Cuba.
Throughout Sunday’s event, Castro and other officials sat stone-faced…
Since August, tensions between the two countries have deteriorated further over a series of alleged attacks affecting the health of U.S. diplomats in Havana.
The United States has withdrawn a majority of its diplomats from the city and expelled 17 Cubans from their Washington embassy, all but ending consular services and most contact.”
-Marc Frank, “Trump casts pall on inauguration of U.S. statue of Marti in Cuba,” Reuters, Jan. 28, 2018 07:53am
CUBA: “Doctors treating the US Embassy victims of mysterious, invisible attacks in Cuba have discovered brain abnormalities as they search for clues to explain the hearing, vision, balance and memory damage, The Associated Press has learned.
It’s the most specific finding to date about physical damage, showing that whatever it was that harmed the Americans, it led to perceptible changes in their brains. The finding is also one of several factors fueling growing skepticism that some kind of sonic weapon was involved…
Physicians, FBI investigators and US intelligence agencies have spent months trying to piece together the puzzle in Havana, where the US says 24 US government officials and spouses fell ill starting last year in homes and later in some hotels. The United States refers to ‘specific attacks’ but says it doesn’t know who’s behind them. A few Canadian Embassy staffers also got sick.
Doctors still don’t know how victims ended up with the white matter changes, nor how exactly those changes might relate to their symptoms. US officials wouldn’t say whether the changes were found in all 24 patients.
But acoustic waves have never been shown to alter the brain’s white matter tracts, said Elisa Konofagou, a biomedical engineering professor at Columbia University who is not involved in the government’s investigation.”
-Josh Lederman, “The victims of the mysterious ‘attacks’ at the US embassy in Cuba had noticeable changes in their brains,” Business Insider, Dec. 6, 2017
CUBA/FOREIGN POLICY/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “The Trump administration on Wednesday [11-8-17] continued to pare back rules intended to normalize ties with Cuba, announcing new regulations tightening travel and financial transactions by Americans.
President Donald Trump had said in June he would reverse steps taken by predecessor Barack Obama to relax a decades-old U.S. embargo against the Castro regime, as Mr. Trump had pledged on the campaign trail.
The regulatory changes unveiled by the Treasury, State and Commerce departments are to take effect Thursday. While they will have an impact on the ability of individuals to travel to Cuba and curtail some business interactions, however, much of Mr. Obama’s program will remain in place…
He added that the shift will make it harder for American businesses to operate in Cuba. ‘It doesn’t fully close the door, but it’s a step backwards.’
Many Americans who want to visit Cuba will have to do so by traveling through tour operators subject to U.S. jurisdiction and be accompanied by a representative of a sponsoring organization that is also subject to U.S. jurisdiction.”
-Felicia Schwartz and Louise Radnofsky, “New Trump Rules Pare Back Obama’s Opening to Cuba,” The Wall Street Journal online, Nov. 8, 2017 06:29pm
CUBA/FOREIGN POLICY/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “President Donald Trump said Monday [10-16-17] he believes Cuba ‘is responsible’ for the mysterious ailments that have left at least 22 American government employees and family members in Cuba with hearing loss, cognitive problems and other symptoms.
But it was unclear if he meant to formally blame Havana for what the U.S. has termed health attacks.
Washington’s position until now has been that the U.S. holds Cuba responsible for protecting the safety of American diplomats and to stop the spread of the ailments, but has stopped short of blaming Cuba for making Americans ill.
‘I think Cuba knew about it,’ Mr. Trump said at an impromptu news conference at the White House. ‘I do believe Cuba is responsible. I dobelieve that, and it’s a very unusual attack, as you know, but I do believe Cuba is responsible.’
Officials said later Monday that the U.S. still hasn’t yet determined the cause of the health attacks, which began in November, or who is responsible for them. But the Trump administration believes that Cuba has a responsibility to protect American diplomats and prevent the attacks.
Cuba has denied culpability in the illnesses, saying it has worked to find out what has sickened the Americans.”
-Felicia Schwartz, “Trump Says ‘Cuba is Responsible’ for Mysterious Health Ailments in Havana,” The Wall Street Journal online, Oct. 16, 2017 04:10pm
CRISIS/GUNS/POLITICS: “With support building in Congress for action against devices like those the Las Vegas gunman had, which allow a rifle to fire hundreds of rounds per minute, the National Rifle Association on Thursday [10-5-17] endorsed tighter restrictions on the gadgets, but did not say they should be outlawed.
The stance by the N.R.A., and growing support for regulation from Republicans on Capitol Hill, represent a small but notable shift for an organization and political party that have consistently opposed any gun controls for many years.
Stephen Paddock, the man who took aim Sunday night from a 32nd-floor hotel suite into the crowd at a music festival, killing 58 people and wounding hundreds of others, had 23 firearms with him, including 12 equipped with ‘bump stocks,’ one type of device that can turn a gun into a rapid-fire weapon, shooting bullets at a rate comparable to a machine gun.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has said that the apparatus does not violate federal laws that, since the 1930s, have sharply limited the manufacture and possession of fully automatic weapons, or machine guns. In a statement on Thursday, the N.R.A. said the bureau should revisit the issue and ‘immediately review whether these devices comply with federal law.’ “
-Richard Perez-Pena and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, “Growing Call for New Look at ‘Bump Stocks,’ Including From the N.R.A.,” The New York Times online, Oct. 5, 2017
CUBA/IMMIGRATION/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “Cubans have long regarded emigrating to the United States as something of a birthright derived from the privations they endured as a result of sanctions that Washington has imposed on Cuba for decades.
Last week, for the first time in decades, the United States effectively shut down the immigration pipeline from the island as it sharply reduced its staff at the embassy in Havana in response to mysterious ailments there, leaving in limbo more than 100,000 Cubans, most of whom are seeking to reunite with relatives.
The decision to indefinitely suspend visa processing at the embassy — one of the busiest consular posts in the region — could mean that the United States will fail to honor its obligations under a 1994 deal that requires the admission of at least 20,000 Cuban immigrants a year, current and former American diplomats say. The accord was reached in an effort to stem an exodus by Cubans who took to the seas in rafts by the thousands in the 1990s trying to reach Florida…
The sudden suspension of legal pathways for Cubans to settle in the United States could set off a new migration surge, experts in both countries said, particularly if Cuba experiences an economic downturn.”
-Ernesto Londono, “U.S. Halt in Visa Services Leaves Cuban Families in Limbo,” The New York Times online, Oct. 5, 2017
CUBA/FOREIGN POLICY/STATE/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “The Trump administration expelled 15 Cuban diplomats from the embassy in Washington in an escalating response to mysterious illnesses afflicting American embassy personnel in Havana.
The expulsions were intended to force the Cubans to operate their embassy in Washington under the same emergency conditions that the United States is now operating under in Havana. The Trump administration decided last week to pare its staff in Havana down to a skeletal group of just 27 people who can carry out emergency services.
A State Department official said that the Cuban government would need to give a clear assurance that the attacks would not continue before the personnel in either embassy could return.
The expulsions represent yet another step in the administration’s gradual unwinding of the Obama administration’s rapprochement with Cuba, a reopening welcomed by much of Latin America and Europe — but criticized by many Cuban émigrés from Florida and elsewhere.
In a briefing with reporters Tuesday [10-3-17] morning, State Department officials said that the Cuban ambassador in Washington was informed of the expulsions in a 9 a.m. phone call. The expelled embassy personnel must be out of the United States within seven days. By then, the American embassy in Havana will have completed its own drawdown…
But State Department officials emphasized that they are not accusing the Cuban government of complicity in the attacks.”
-Gardiner Harris, “Trump Administration Expels 15 Cuban Diplomats From Embassy in Washington,” The New York Times online, Oct. 3, 2017 08:12am
CUBA/FOREIGN POLICY: “It was grim, unsettling news: the United States warned Americans on Friday [9-29-17] not to travel to Cuba and ordered the withdrawal of more than half its diplomats in Havana.
The announcement, which spread around the island in spurts, largely by word of mouth, dealt a harsh blow to Cubans who had hoped the nascent normalization of relations with the United States that began in late 2014 would usher in a period of economic growth and greater prosperity in the impoverished Communist nation…
The measures announced Friday — taken in response to hearing loss and other ailments that American government employees in Cuba had experienced in recent months — stirred anxiety and dread on the island.
The State Department’s decision to stop issuing visas in Havana indefinitely leaves thousands of Cubans in limbo. Washington typically grants 20,000 immigrant visas a year to reunite Cubans with relatives in the United States, and thousands more to enable students, academics and tourists to travel.”
-Ernesto Londono, “Cubans Alarmed at U.S. Embassy Withdrawals and Travel Warning,” The New York Times online, Sept. 29, 2017
AMBASSADOR/CUBA/STATE: “The U.S. State Department is set to announce Friday [9-29-17] that it is cutting staff at the U.S. Embassy in Havana as Washington investigates mysterious health attacks that have left more than 20 diplomats with dizziness, concussions, hearing loss and other symptoms.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said earlier this month that he was considering closing the U.S. Embassy in Havana. He met with Cuba’s foreign minister Bruno Rodríguez earlier this week to discuss the health incidents, which began late last year and have happened as recently as August.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Thursday that a Federal Bureau of Investigation probe is continuing and that officials haven’t identified a cause or source of the attacks.
Some officials have suggested a sonic device might be responsible for the attacks but such a device hasn’t been found.
The mysterious episodes began as the Obama administration was trying to do as much as it could to make its push to normalize ties with Cuba permanent, including by supporting a flurry of business deals.
Both Cuba and the U.S. reopened embassies in each other’s capitals in the summer of 2015 after they had been closed for more than 50 years. President Barack Obama loosened trade and travel restrictions as part of the normalization push, though President Donald Trump moved earlier this year to tighten them.”
-Felicia Schwartz, “U.S. to Reduce Staffing at Embassy in Cuba in Response to Mysterious Attacks,” The Wall Street Journal online, Sept. 29, 2017 10:39am
CUBA/REX TILLERSON/STATE: “Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with his Cuban counterpart Tuesday [9-26-17] amid an investigation into mysterious attacks that have affected the health of at least 21 American diplomats and strained ties between the two governments.
Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla told Mr. Tillerson that Cuban officials haven’t identified the cause or origin of health problems that began last December and have recurred as recently as August, the Cuban Embassy in Washington said late Tuesday.
Mr. Rodríguez told Mr. Tillerson the Cuban investigation has included information provided by American investigators and reiterated Cuba’s denial of any involvement in the attacks. He told Mr. Tillerson the Cuban government has never permitted and would not permit third parties to carry out such activities on Cuban soil, the embassy said…
U.S. law-enforcement officials have been investigating the attacks, although the U.S. hasn’t blamed the Cuban government for the attacks and has said Havana has cooperated in the investigation.
The meeting in Washington took place at the request of the Cubans, American and Cuban officials said Tuesday, and came as Washington is weighing options that include closing its embassy in Havana in response to the attacks.”
-Felicia Schwartz, “U.S., Cuban Officials Meet Under Cloud of Embassy Illnesses,” The Wall Street Journal online, Sept. 26, 2017 10:15pm
CUBA/REX TILLERSON/STATE: “Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. is considering closing its embassy in Cuba in response to what he has described as ‘health attacks’ on American diplomats there that have caused hearing loss, concussions and other symptoms.
Mr. Tillerson said in a television interview Sunday on CBS that he is considering calls from Republican senators to close the embassy in Havana. It was reopened in July 2015 as part of the Obama administration’s push to normalize ties with Cuba.
‘We have it under evaluation. It’s a very serious issue with respect to the harm that certain individuals have suffered,’ Mr. Tillerson said. ‘We’ve brought some of those people home. It’s under review.’
Officials at the Cuban embassy in Washington, D.C., didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The health problems began last December and have recurred as recently as August, the State Department has said. The department has confirmed that at least 21 Americans have been affected.
Officials haven’t determined a cause of the episodes, but have speculated they came from sonic waves from covert listening devices, though such devices haven’t been found.
The State Department hasn’t blamed Cuba for the incidents. Cuba is cooperating with an investigation and has denied involvement. U.S. and Cuban officials discussed the incidents in Washington Friday [9-15-17].”
-Felicia Schwartz, “Tillerson Says U.S. Is Weighing Closure of Embassy in Havana,” The Wall Street Journal online, Sept. 17, 2017 12:15pm
CUBA/FOREIGN POLICY/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “The University of Miami received a nervous call from the Trump administration: American diplomats in Havana were getting sick with headaches, dizziness and hearing loss. Washington needed answers.
At least six patients were flown from Cuba to the university’s hospital this year to determine the cause of a medical mystery that was dogging several people who worked at the American Embassy in Havana. The illnesses appeared to be caused by some kind of sonic wave machine, and the symptoms worsened with prolonged exposure, said a person who was briefed on the situation but was not authorized to comment.
One of the patients had a more serious illness that involved a blood disorder, the person said. This month, a University of Miami specialist went to Havana to examine others who work at the embassy, because officials expect that more people were affected.
On Friday [8-11-17], Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson said the illnesses were a result of ‘health attacks,’ adding, ‘We’ve not been able to determine who’s to blame.’
The episode was the latest in a series of disputes between the nations. It baffled even the most senior Cuba experts, who wondered whether a rogue element of Cuban intelligence intent on ending President Barack Obama’s reconciliation efforts had pulled off an unauthorized caper, or, more likely, whether a new kind of eavesdropping technology went awry.”
-Frances Robles and Kirk Semple, “‘Health Attacks’ on U.S. Diplomats in Cuba Baffle Both Countries,” The New York Times online, Aug. 11, 2017
CUBA/FOREIGN POLICY/STATE: “The U.S. has expelled two Cuban diplomats in retaliation for a bizarre incident purportedly involving a covert sonic device that allegedly left a group of American diplomats in Havana with severe hearing loss.
State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert on Wednesday [8-9-17] spoke only cryptically about the matter, referring to an ‘incident’ without elaboration.
Cuba has strongly denied any allegations of wrongdoing.
The purported affair began in late 2016 when a series of U.S. diplomats in Havana began suffering unexplained losses of hearing, according to officials with knowledge of the investigation into the case, the Associated Press reported.
Several of the diplomats had recently arrived at the embassy, which reopened in 2015 as part of former President Obama’s re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba and relaxation of travel restrictions.
Nauert said that as a result of the incident, two Cuban diplomats were ordered to leave their embassy in Washington on May 23…
She did not say how many U.S. diplomats were affected or confirm they suffered hearing loss, saying only that they had ‘a variety of physical symptoms.’ She said none were life-threatening.”
-USA Today Editors, “Cuba diplomats ousted after bizarre incident with U.S. embassy workers in Havana,” USA Today, Aug. 10, 2017 10:26am