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Archive for Cuba

Newsline: Canada sent doctor to Cuba to examine embassy staff

The Canadian government sent a doctor to Cuba to examine embassy diplomats who complained of medical ailments thought to have been caused by acoustic attacks, Canadian media reported. Newly declassified and released memos show that Dr. Jeffery Chermin, a physician with Health Canada, was dispatched to the Canadian embassy in Havana. Diplomatic staff experienced symptoms similar to that suffered by American diplomats such as nosebleeds, short-term memory and hearing loss as well as nausea. The source of the maladies remains a mystery, but speculation by officials pointed to some type of sonic attack. The phenomenon was severe enough that the U.S., blaming Cuba for the attacks, recalled many of its embassy staff home from Havana, while expelling Cuban representatives from Washington. The newly disclosed Global Canada memos state that as early as May, Canadian staff experienced medical problems.



Newsline: Visas issued to Cubans plummet with slashing of staff at US embassy in Havana

Over the past two years, more than 800 immigrant visas have been issued each month to Cubans so they can move permanently to the United States. In October, that number suddenly dropped to 16, according to the U.S. State Department’s website statistics. The likely reason: Staff at the U.S. Embassy in Havana was slashed by 60 percent in response to mysterious health attacks on American diplomats there and the State Department announced it would suspend processing visa requests there. Now, to apply for an immigrant visa, Cuban citizens must travel to the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, Colombia, a tall order for most people in a country where the average citizen makes $25 a month. Of the 16 Cubans issued immigrant visas, only 11 made the trip to Bogota. The remaining five were issued visas from Havana because they were interviewed before the staff drawdown.


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.