By Pedro Campos
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.
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 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.