I have travelled to Washington to meet with member of Congress, business people, representatives of academic centers and the media to explain the Cuban Government approach to bilateral relations under the present juncture.
I have also come to ask why, instead of having an effective cooperation with the Cuban authorities to clarify the incidents that have been said have affected the health of US diplomats and their relatives in Havana, the US Government has decided to politicize these events and use them as a pretext to take bilateral relations back to the era of confrontation. It is high time for the United States to speak the truth or otherwise present evidences.
There has been a significant setback in US-Cuba relations.
The first manifestation of this was the Directive issued by President Donald Trump on June 16, 2017, which he announced the decision to tighten the blockade. This would be like re-enacting and old and failed policy that is absolutely discredited.
Only yesterday, for the twenty sixth time, the international community overwhelmingly urged the United States to lift the blockade against Cuba. This is also the majority opinion of the most diverse sectors of the US society and pubic opinion, including the Cuban émigrés residing in this country.
The setback in relations has worsened after the decisions adopted by the US administration to substantially reduce the staff of their embassy in Havana and unwarrantedly expel 17 officials from the Cuban embassy in Washington, using as a pretext the occurrence of alleged incidents involving their diplomats.
The US Government escalated their reaction: it issued a travel warning to dissuade travelers from visiting Cuba; it published a warning related to restrictions on accommodations at designated hotels and urged its citizens to report any symptom that might be similar to those reported by its diplomats. Previously, it had suspended all official trips to Cuba.
These decisions have had a negative impact on the work of the Cuban embassy in Washington, particularly on the Economic and Commercial Office, which was dismantled; and the Consulate, which is faced with severe understaffing.
What is the purpose behind this decision that has left the business sector without any interlocutor and has seriously affected the consular services that are provided to Cubans residing in the US who are willing to visit their relatives in Cuba, and US citizens interested in travelling to our country?
Why was the granting of visas at the US Consulate in Havana suspended, thus paralyzing the arrangements that need to be made by Cuban citizens to migrate to or visit the United States, and transferring them to third countries, which makes such arrangements totally unviable?
These measures have also had a negative impact on the cooperation in areas of mutual interest, the exchanges and travels between the two countries, family ties and migration relations. The first effects have started to be seen: a technical meeting on Agriculture was cancelled and the materialization of cooperation in the area of health has been delayed. Several cultural, sport and students events as well as the travels of tens of groups of US visitors have been cancelled.
These steps have been accompanied by repeated disrespectful and offensive statements on Cuba by the US President, thus re-launching the hostile rhetoric of the periods of sharpest confrontations.
President Trump and the top officials of his administration have affirmed that their diplomats in Havana have been subject to “attacks” and have put the blame directly on the Cuban Government when they have not been able to provide the least evidence.
The measures adopted against Cuba are unwarranted and politically motivated, since they are not based on evidence or conclusive results from the investigations.
The Cuban Government has no responsibility whatsoever in these incidents which are said to have affected the US diplomats.
I reiterate that, from the moment when the Cuban authorities were first informed about these incidents in February of 2017, they initiated a thorough and priority investigation and insisted on the importance of being able to count on the effective cooperation of US specialized agencies.
We highly assess the four meetings held with representatives of the FBI, who have been provided the necessary assistance to conduct on-site investigations, including an authorization to import equipment and have access to certain facilities in our country.
But the cooperation received from the United States in this case has been very limited, and this arouses many questions, particularly based on the positive experience that we have had in areas related to security, such as the combat of drug-trafficking, terrorism, money laundering and cybercrimes.
Why were the incidents reported at such a late date, most of them weeks and months after they had allegedly occurred?
Why was the information supplied by the United States insufficient and untimely notified?
Being this a very sensitive issue, why did the US government take 4 moths to send its specialized agencies to Cuba?
Why were we given audio samples which were technically manipulated, did not comply with international standards and are therefore of no value to the investigation? Besides, the analysis of such samples showed that they can not cause any hearing damage or harmful effects to human health.
Why have Cuban experts not been given access to the affected persons or to most of the affected locations?
Why has the Cuban medical staff taking part in the investigation not been allowed to exchange with the US doctors who have evaluated the diplomats?
Why has the medical information supplied to Cuba been so general and lacking objective data, such as the sequence in the appearance of the symptoms and a detailed description of their characteristics, which has made it impossible to make a diagnosis? It is not even known if there were diplomats who arrived in Cuba with some of these ailments.
Why hasn’t there been any meeting between experts from both countries to discuss the technology that could have supposedly been used?
Why are there continuous leaks from anonymous government officials who nurture all sorts of speculations that are not based on objective information or concrete evidence?
Despite these insufficiencies, the Cuban authorities have continued their investigation and have preliminarily concluded that there is no evidence whatsoever of the occurrence of the alleged incidents or the cause and the origin of these ailments reported by US diplomats and their relatives. Neither is there any evidence suggesting that these health problems have been caused by an attack of any sort during their stay in Cuba.
Therefore, it is particularly striking to see that the US government continues to talk about “attacks” and “acoustic attacks” and implements punitive measures against Cuba, when experts have proved that this is not possible, because the diversity of the symptoms reported can not be associated to a unique cause and because there is no known technology able to selectively direct a sonic source against specific persons without affecting others.
If Havana were really an unsafe place, the US authorities would not have requested 212 visas for relatives and friends of diplomats between January and October, nor had they made more than 250 pleasure trips outside the capital.
We also wonder why is Cuba required to explain these events, the occurrence of which has not been corroborated by the US. It is necessary to point out that the US specialized agencies do not have evidence either of the occurrence of the alleged “attacks”, nor any hypothesis on the origin of the ailments suffered by their diplomats.
The Cuban government is willing to continue having a respectful dialogue as well as a serious and objective cooperation with the United States and is committed to conclude the investigation to clarify these events.
The US Government should stop politicizing this issue, which could lead to an escalation and take bilateral relations further back, which will have harmful consequences for both peoples and countries.