Wednesday, October 21, 2020

The Havana Syndrome: The dangerous legacy of appeasing tyrants and not recognizing their true nature (What The New York Times forgot)

Update on Cuba's health attacks that many would like to forget.

Did appeasement policy lead to 40 diplomats suffering brain damage?

The question raised by The New York Times in their October 19th article referencing the "Havana Syndrome" with respect to China and Russia titled "U.S. Diplomats and Spies Battle Trump Administration Over Suspected Attacks", was first raised in this blog with regard to Cuba on September 20, 2017:"Did State Department downplaying attacks on diplomats in Cuba endanger others?"  This downplaying of injuries to American diplomats started during the Obama Administration. This blog also asked if the 2014-2017 neo-appeasement policy had worsened the behavior of the Castro regime?

Over forty American employees stationed at embassies in Cuba and China are requiring long term "emergency health and other benefits" due to injuries suffered on the job in these two countries. The largest number were stationed in Cuba.  

In the fall of 2016 U.S. diplomats began to complain of "mild" traumatic brain injury, permanent hearing, and memory loss. In May of 2017 two Cuban diplomats were expelled from the United States over the matter, but the reason was not made known until August 9, 2017.

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.

Cuban troops in military parade chant they'll shoot President Obama in the head

On January 2, 2017 Raúl Castro presided over a military parade in Havana where marching troops chanted about shooting the American President in the head: "Obama! Obama! with what fervor we’d like to confront your clumsiness, to give you a cleansing with rebels and mortar, and send you a hat of lead to the head.”
On January 12, 2017 the Obama Administration provided further concessions to Cuba gutting the Cuban Adjustment Act and ending the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program that had bothered General Castro for years.  

On January 16, 2017 the Obama State Department issued a statement that "the United States and Cuba [had] signed a bilateral Law Enforcement Memorandum of Understanding to deepen law enforcement cooperation and information sharing." American diplomats were suffering serious harm, including mild traumatic brain injury, permanent hearing loss that included loss of balance, headaches, and brain swelling. Yet, according to The Wall Street Journal no complaint was made until February of 2017.  

On January 17, 2017 President Obama granted clemency to Oscar López Rivera, a founder of the Armed Forces of National Liberation Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (FALN), a movement responsible for more than 130 bombings in American cities - including one in New York City on January 24, 1975 that went off in the Fraunces Tavern during lunch hour killing four people. Unrepentant, López had 10 years added to his sentence when he and another FALN member were caught plotting a prison break that included killing their prison guards. On November 17, 2017 Mr. 
López Rivera received the Order of Solidarity from the Cuban government.  

American diplomats were being permanently harmed while all these concessions were being made, and regime soldiers contemptuously chanted about shooting President Obama in the head so many times that they'd make him a lead hat. Fabiola Santiago, an Obama partisan, wrote a column on January 6, 2017 outraged at the disrespectful action by the dictatorship titled "Cuban troops’ bizarre chant: We’ll make Obama ‘a hat out of bullets to the head’", and she correctly described it as "a threat to do the U.S. president harm." 

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."

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 led to diplomats and their families being seriously physically harmed.  Back on December 17, 2014 this blog made the following prediction: "Rewarding the hardline and rogue elements in the Castro regime is unlikely to improve the dictatorship's behavior to the contrary it may worsen." 
Average Cubans and other Latin Americans suffered at the hands of a more aggressive and violent dictatorship during the 2009 - 2017 warming of relations. An extreme example documented in May 2015 was the machete attack against Sirley Avila Leon by agents of the Castro regime.

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