U.S. Ties Strained With Cuba After Mysterious Attacks on Diplomats
Last Friday, already strained relations between the U.S. and Cuban governments got worse, as the Trump administration recalled non-emergency personnel and families from their embassy in Havana. This followed at least nineteen American diplomatic personnel being diagnosed with symptoms such as hearing loss, headaches, dizziness, and loss of balance, and the Cuban government not being able to guarantee protection to American diplomats.
The exact cause of the symptoms is yet to be determined, but it has been suggested that they may be the result of sonic attacks on the embassy workers. A Canadian diplomat was also affected. The source of the attacks is not yet known, and there has been some speculation as to what the causes might be. The Trump administration is yet to make any suggestion that the Cuban government is in any way responsible.
There have been suggestions that a third party attempting to exacerbate tensions between the two countries. “Whoever is doing this obviously is trying to disrupt the normalization process between the United States and Cuba”, said Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, in a statement on Friday. “Someone or some government is trying to reverse that process.”
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that Cuba had been co-operative up to this point in the process, and it has been confirmed that the FBI had been allowed into the island to investigate on America’s behalf. “Cuba has told us it will continue to investigate these attacks, and we will continue to cooperate with them in this effort,” Mr. Tillerson said in a statement.
He also announced that, along with the withdrawal of diplomatic personnel, a travel advisory warning was being put into place telling Americans not to travel to Cuba. Critics denounced this as a cynical maneuver to capitalize on the situation and push the Trump administration’s policy of beginning to undo the progress made by the Obama White House.
The continued worsening relations between the United States and its Caribbean neighbor continue a decade’s long trend that had only been bucked in the latter years of the Obama administration. Until 2014, diplomatic ties between the two countries had been almost non-existent, exacerbated by events such as the Cuban Missile Crisis and the failed Bay of Pigs operation.
Only in the last three years had progress begun to be made, with President Obama’s administration reaching a historic deal to re-open relations between the two countries. In fact, one of the reasons it is assumed that the Cuban government is not involved in these attacks is the fact that they were thought to have begun in December 2016, towards the tail end of the Obama administration.
Since President Trump took office in January 2017, relations have begun to slide back to where they had been before the progress under Obama. In June, Mr. Trump unveiled new sanctions on travel and business with Cuba, and this latest attack will only serve to exacerbate the tensions.
It is unknown what effect this diplomatic fracas will have on relations long-term, but this is certainly a backward step that darkens the horizons on the relations of what had previously been seen as two countries that were finally coming closer after decades in the wilderness.
— Department of State (@StateDept) October 3, 2017