Monday, January 8, 2018

Senate Subcommittee to hold hearing on 24 U.S. government officials and spouses attacked in Havana, Cuba in 2016-2017

The mystery continues and answers are needed.

U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba
 Senator Marco Rubio will be presiding over a public hearing titled "Attacks on U.S. Diplomats in Cuba: Response and Oversight" at the Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women's Issues on January 9, 2018 at 10:00am. There are numerous questions that have not been answered but there is one fact that has been established that is disturbing. Twenty four U.S. government officials and their spouses based in Havana were the victims of 50 attacks between November of 2016 and September of 2017 that caused serious harm.
 It is also known that Canadian diplomats were also impacted and their diplomatic cables were describing the incidents as attacks, months before the U.S. publicly acknowledged them, on April 26, 2017. CBS News reported on these newly declassified cables on January 6, 2018.

This is bad timing for Senator Jeff Flake, who has worked for years in pushing normalized relations with the Castro regime, who on January 5, 2018 tried to spin that there was "no evidence of  a sonic attack." Whether sonic or not, the fact remains that two dozen American government officials and their dependents have been harmed.

The Associated Press reported on January 5, 2018 in an interview with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that the danger to diplomats is not over in Havana:
Tillerson said he's not convinced that what he calls the "deliberate attacks" are over. He defended his September decision to order most U.S. personnel and their relatives to leave Cuba and said he won't reverse course until Cuba's government assures they'll be safe.
"I'd be intentionally putting them back in harm's way. Why in the world would I do that when I have no means whatsoever to protect them?" Tillerson told the AP on Jan. 5. "I will push back on anybody who wants to force me to do that."
Four months earlier on October 12, 2017 White House Chief of Staff John Kelly stated, "[w]e believe that the Cuban government could stop the attacks on our diplomats."

How did we get to this dismal point in U.S. - Cuba relations?

On December 17, 2014 President Barack Obama claimed that the previous U.S. - Cuba policy of containment had been static and not achieved anything, but the new policy not only coincided with a rise in repression in Cuba, the deaths of high profile dissidents, but also this insidious attack on U.S. diplomats.

News reporting indicates that beginning in November 2016 U.S. diplomats suffered injuries to their health following odd sounds being directed at them. The story did not go public until August 9, 2017 when CBS Radio was going to break the story leaked by angry victims, who believed that not enough had been done, and that the State Department was ignoring their suffering.

Last year on January 2, 2017 Cuban troops marched in a parade over which Castro presided chanting that they would repeatedly shoot President Obama, the first African-American president, in the head so many times that they would make a “hat of lead to the head.”  

In September of 2017, it was announced that non-essential U.S. personnel would be evacuated from the U.S. Embassy in Havana. Prior to December 2014, a fully staffed U.S. Interests Section (an embassy all but in name) in Havana had been doing a lot of good work in Cuba since 1977. There is now a skeleton crew.


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