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Archive for Cuba

Newsline: US Embassy workers in Cuba found to have brain abnormalities

Brain abnormalities have been found in the U.S. diplomats who were victims of suspected attacks at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba, according to a new report. Doctors discovered that white matter in the brains of Embassy workers had “developed changes,” The Associated Press reported. White matter allows different areas of the brain to communicate. At least 24 U.S. Embassy officials in Cuba had reported hearing loud, grating noises before experiencing ear issues, hearing loss, dizziness, headache, fatigue, cognitive issues and difficulty sleeping.



Newsline: Trump names career diplomat to head Cuban embassy

The Trump administration has named career diplomat Philip Goldberg to head the all-but-abandoned U.S. embassy in Havana, according to three sources familiar with the matter, at a time of heightened tensions between the United States and Cuba. Goldberg has lengthy experience in a number of countries, and was described by a U.S. congressional aide as “career and the best of the best”. But his appointment may ruffle feathers in Havana. He was expelled from Cuba’s socialist ally Bolivia in 2008 for what President Evo Morales claimed was fomenting social unrest.


Newsline: Cuba Blames US Embassy Attacks On Cicadas

The government of Cuba claims that the array of inexplicable health problems experienced earlier this year by U.S. Embassy employees stationed on the island were triggered not by “sonic attacks,” but rather by the sounds of loud crickets and cicadas. “We compared the spectrums of the sounds and evidently this common sound is very similar to the sound of a cicada,” Lt. Col. Juan Carlos Molina, a government official, said last week on Cuban television, according to the Associated Press. These remarks were made during a half-hour, prime-time special called “Alleged Sonic Attacks.” The narrator likewise cited unnamed “North American researchers” to argue some cicada and cricket noises can produce the same symptoms experienced by U.S. Embassy employees. The broadcast looked into accusations by the administration of President Donald Trump that claimed the Cuban government orchestrated so-called “sonic attacks” against U.S. Embassy employees.


Newsline: US appoints new chief for embassy in Cuba

The U.S. announced a new chief for its embassy in Cuba amid a growing diplomatic crisis between the two nations over mysterious health attacks targeting American personnel. Lawrence Gumbiner replaces the previous chargé d’affaires Scott Hamilton, who left the embassy in Havana earlier this month after Washington ordered many U.S. officials to leave the embassy after personnel reported what seemed to be sonic attacks, Reuters reported. The State Department said the attacks resulted in permanent hearing loss, balancing problems and difficulty sleeping. At the time of the attacks, the U.S. had roughly 50 people working at the embassy, according to The Associated Press, meaning that nearly half of its staff fell victim to the incidents.


Newsline: Trump Says Cuba is Responsible for Incident Claimed by US Diplomats

US President Donald Trump said that he believes Cuba is responsible for the health incidents reported by US diplomats in Havana, even though his own administration ignores the cause of those incidents. During a press conference at the White House, Trump said he believes Cuba is responsible for the alleged attacks, although there is an ongoing investigation and the State Department itself does not know who or what caused the symptoms claimed by the diplomats. This situation, which according to many sources is used by the current US administration to reverse the process of normalization of the relations with Cuba, hit headlines in last August. At that time, US diplomats working at the U.S. Embassy in Havana complained of incidents that made them feel ill such as hearing loss, dizziness, headache and fatigue, something that was described by the State Department as attacks, even when the investigation into this case has not yielded results. Meanwhile, Cuba has reiterated that it has no responsibility for the incidents, stating that it follows the provisions included in the Vienna Convention of 1961 on the protection to the personal safety of diplomats and their families. In late September, the State Department decided to withdraw more than half members from the U.S. Embassy in Havana, halted the issuance of visas to Cuba, issued a travel warning to the U.S. citizens and expelled 15 Cuban diplomats from Washington.


Newsline: Cubans Must Now Go to Colombia to Apply to Immigrate to the USA

US diplomatic sources said that Cubans who want to immigrate to the United States, often under family reunification, will have to apply for a visa at that country’s embassy in Colombia. “Following the suspension of visa services at the US Embassy in Havana, the State Department decided that the Embassy in Bogota, Colombia, will be responsible for dealing with requests for immigration visas for residents of Cuba,” said a statement from the US Embassy in Havana. The decision is the result of Washington pulling out the majority of its diplomatic personnel stationed in Havana after denouncing alleged “sonic attacks” against its personnel in Cuba. Although Washington does not blame the Cuban government for the attacks, it does hold it accountable for failing to adequately protect its diplomats on the island. The scarce personnel that remained on the island will focus on basic diplomatic duties and consular attention to US citizens visiting Cuba. Cubans who want to apply for a migratory visa must travel to Colombia to do the process. Non-migratory visas, such as business or tourism, may be requested personally in any diplomatic delegation of the United States in third countries. The only non-migratory visas to be managed in Havana will be diplomatic, official and emergency cases for health reasons. Under a migration agreement between the two countries, since 1994 the United States agreed to grant Cubans 20,000 annual immigrant visas, which will now be very difficult to meet due to the lack of consular staff in Havana.


Newsline: New audio adds to mystery of attacks on US diplomats in Cuba

A new audio recording said to capture what was heard by some US embassy workers amid a series of attacks on American diplomats in Cuba is adding another layer of intrigue around the mysterious incidents that sickened at least 22 US diplomats and family members. The recording — obtained by The Associated Press — is the first publicly reported audio sample said to be related to attacks that, according to a US official, may have involved the use of an acoustic device. The device was so sophisticated, it was outside the range of audible sound, the official said. And it was so damaging, the source said, that one US diplomat now needs to use a hearing aid. But what remains unknown is what kind of device may have been used, where exactly it was placed, and who put it there.