Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Did State Department downplaying attacks on diplomats in Cuba endanger others?

The plot thickens... U.S. and Canadian diplomats harmed. French now testing their diplomats in Havana to see if they have also suffered injuries.

Diplomat woke up in a Havana hotel to a grinding, blaring cacophony. Moved a few feet noise stopped
 The Daily Mail headline today declared "Damning evidence Cuba's launched a sci-fi sonic weapon at America: How 21 US diplomats were hit by hearing and memory loss - and even mild brain damage - after suspicious attack." More disturbing is the allegation raised by CBS News that the U.S. State Department hid what was going on from Congress and the American people. In the fall of 2016 U.S. diplomats began to complain of "mild" traumatic brain injury and permanent hearing and/or memory loss. In May of 2017 two Cuban diplomats were expelled from the United States over the matter, but it was not made known until August 9, 2017.

Now CBS says that the State Department "only admitted the attacks were occurring after CBS News Radio first reported them August 9." According to the news agency an "internal Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs document obtained by CBS News shows the State Department was fully aware of the extent of the attacks on its diplomats in Havana, Cuba, long before it was forced to acknowledge them." Now the number of American diplomats and dependents injured stands at 21. Five Canadian diplomats and their families were also harmed. Now France has tested its own diplomatic staff in Havana for potential sonic injuries.

Worse yet "experts" such as Fulton Armstrong with a track record of "minimizing Cuba’s ability to threaten U.S. interests and its continued support to terrorists" are engaged in downplaying this latest outrage. What goes unmentioned is that under international law as described below by the International Court of Justice put it in the case of US Diplomatic and Consular Staff in Tehran (paras 38-40):
[t]here is no more fundamental prerequisite for the conduct of relations between States than the inviolability of diplomatic envoys and embassies . . . [T]he institution of diplomacy, with its concomitant privileges and immunities, has withstood the test of centuries and proved to be an instrument essential for effective co-operation in the international community, and for enabling States, irrespective of their differing constitutional and social systems, to achieve mutual understanding and to resolve their differences by peaceful means . . . [and] the inviolability of consular premises and archives, are similarly principles deep-rooted in international law…
The Castro regime has failed to maintain the "inviolability of diplomatic envoys and embassies" in this matter but also has a decades long history of engaging in the wholesale violation of this international norm.  Former Canadian ambassador to Cuba James Bartleman described events that occurred midway during his  (1981 – 1983) posting: “[h]is family dog was poisoned, a trade officer had a dead rat nailed to their door and the embassy started receiving threatening phone calls.”  U.S. diplomat Robin Meyers was subjected to cars being used against her as weapons in Cuba in February of 1996. In 2006 The Miami Herald reported how a high-ranking member of the U.S. mission found his mouthwash replaced with urine. In another case, after one diplomat’s family privately discussed their daughter’s susceptibility to mosquito bites, “they returned home to find all of their windows open and the house full of mosquitoes.”  American diplomats, like their Canadian counterparts, have also had pets poisoned while stationed in Cuba. 

This is an outlaw regime with a track record that should not be ignored, especially when doing so is leading to diplomats and their families being seriously physically harmed.   The logical question that arises is a disturbing one: Did State Department lack of response and downplaying of attacks on US diplomats and their families in Cuba lead to more being harmed?

The State Department knew since November 2016 that American diplomats were being harmed in these attacks, but didn't make it public until August 9, 2017 when CBS News broke the story. On December 7, 2016 the United States and Cuba held their fifth Bilateral Commission meeting where they celebrated progress on U.S.-Cuba relations, and according to the Miami Herald signed "11 non-binding agreements on health, the environment, counter-narcotics, and other areas of cooperation." No word on attacks against diplomats. They would continue until August 2017. Cuban officials say they don't know whats going on. This matter should have been raised earlier.

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