If U.S. diplomats cannot be protected, no point in normalizing relations with Cuba’s apartheid dictatorship

Jose Cardenas in Foreign Policy:

If Cuba Can’t Keep U.S. Diplomats Safe, What’s the Point of Normalizing Relations?

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Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez met with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson this week to deny the Castro regime’s culpability in mysterious “sonic attacks” against U.S. diplomatic personnel in Havana. We should all be skeptical.

Nearly one year after U.S. diplomats began reporting mysterious physiological ailments while serving in Cuba, an array of physicians, scientists, and intelligence experts have reportedly concluded is that the mild brain damage and loss of hearing resulted from some sort of acoustic device directly targeting U.S. personnel.

The stakes for holding the Castro regime accountable are high. U.S. diplomats serve in any number of difficult environments around the world representing and promoting U.S. interests. If our adversaries determine that it is open season for attacks on U.S. personnel serving abroad, fewer Americans will be interested in joining the foreign service, and U.S. interests and our image will suffer for it. In short, the bad guys win.

According to media reports, here’s what we know to date:

  • Beginning as long ago as last November, U.S. diplomats serving in Cuba have been treated for mild traumatic brain injuries and permanent hearing loss after complaining of concussion symptoms such as nausea, severe headaches, dizziness, ear-ringing, and disorientation, as well as nosebleeds, exhaustion, sleeplessness, and trouble concentrating and remembering words. U.S. officials are convinced the diplomats were targeted with a sophisticated device never encountered before. “It is increasingly apparent the Cubans are involved in some way,” a senior U.S. official told CNN. (A McClatchy report this week quotes sources as saying U.S. officials have concluded that the Castro regime was not behind the attacks, but an administration source told me that is flatly untrue.)
  • At least 25 Americans, including family members, have been affected. There may have been as many as 50 attacks. They also continued even after the State Department went public with the incidents in August. (It expelled two Cuban diplomats at the time in retaliation.) Canada as well has reported that some of their diplomats in Havana have reported similar symptoms.

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