This is an update on news stories from today about the US Embassy and acoustic phenomena in Cuba. This situation has been going on since late 2016. I have been following it closely. It is rather complicated, and the political situation makes things even more weird. It is nothing that I am worried about personally, but it has caused much unease among US travelers (but not very much from visitors from other countries, and with good reason).
These phenomena have only affected US and Canadian diplomats in the US Embassy and in one hotel. It is not a contagious illness. Remember–Canada is one of Cuba’s most loyal allies. The Cuban government has been working closely with our F.B.I. and the Canadian government trying to find out the cause. It apparently is not any type of “weapon,” but probably some type of listening device. My first thought when I heard about this several months ago was that it was probably of Russian origin. It fits their m.o. perfectly.
To sort things out involving Cuba, you have to figure out who benefits and who loses. Cuba has, and will have, a lot to lose. If Americans go to Cuba in fewer numbers, it would be a large economic hit. This is particularly important, because over half the major Caribbean areas visited by tourists have been seriously damaged or destroyed by hurricanes. Cuba’s damage was relatively minor, and power has been quickly restored over almost all of the island.
On the other hand, this issue benefits the Russians, who have begun very comprehensive international programs aimed at destabilizing certain countries and political entities. If you follow the news in the U.S., you’re probably aware that this has been an ongoing issue that representatives of both major parties are well aware of, even though some won’t admit it in public. (It is difficult for me to remain a middle-of-the-road Independent these days, but I’m still trying!)
The top diplomat at the US Embassy a few years back (when it was called the “US Interests Section) was Vicki Huddleston. Today she was asked about these occurrences. She said that there are several groups that may want to damage US-Cuba relations, and one is most likely behind these weird events. She identified likely groups as 1) Cuba Hardliners–those supporters of the late Fidel Castro, who do not trust the US government (Gee–I can’t imagine why!), 2) Miami Cuban-American Hardliners, who have been involved in dirty tricks against the Cuban government for decades. (Thankfully, most have died off, given up, or changed their minds about Cuba. Today, the remaining pro-Embargo Cuban-Americans represent a very small minority of those in south Florida, but you would not know it if you haven’t been paying close attention. Their younger “leaders” are Cuban-Americans like Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, who were born outside of Cuba and have NEVER BEEN TO CUBA. Their supporters still envision returning to Cuba someday and claiming billions of dollars of real estate.)
Huddleston said the most likely culprits are #3 China or #4 Russia. I disagree that China would be involved, because it is now the major financial contributor for large economic projects in Cuba. They fully expect to profit from the large, nearby US tourist market visiting Cuba. On the other hand, Russian agents are the most likely suspects. They probably have the technology to do this, and their “fingerprints” are on a wide variety of other similar projects in multiple countries throughout the world.
At this point in history, the Cuban government would have absolutely nothing to gain by beginning and continuing these activities. But it is easy for Rubio and others to blame Cuba. if you study the last 50 years of US-Cuba relations, you will discover that the concepts of “Fake News” and “Alternate Facts” are nothing new.
The US government now states that the Cuba government is probably not responsible, but over half the existing diplomatic staff are being recalled from the embassy. Most significant–an official Travel Warning has been issued for Americans visiting that country. This will undoubtedly result in fewer American travelers.
It is extremely rare for anybody who has actually been to Cuba to believe that we should continue the embargo. I know only one person in this category. I also want to remind you that you will probably have friends and family members who will warn you about the so-called “dangers” of going to Cuba. Just remember that Canada–one of our very best allies–is also a close ally of Cuba. It is the favorite country for Canadians to visit, bringing their families and children to this kid-friendly country.
In conclusion, when you visit Cuba, you may meet visitors from all over the world, especially travelers from our best allies–UK, France, Italy, Germany, Australia, Japan, and of course, Canada. You should keep in mind that the history they learned regarding US-Cuba relations is vastly different than what we were told growing up here in the states.