Actions Taken in Response to Attacks on U.S. Government Personnel in Cuba


Che. photo courtesy of Fred Thomas, III

I am looking forward to my upcoming trip to Cuba in November.  It is  extremely important for me as I have been blessed to line up interviews with two pre-eminent scholars on topics I am covering, then Tillerson announces this!

No doubt, when traveling to another country, as citizens we rely on our State department to look out for our best interest.

I know folk who get sick drinking the water next door, or the person who loses their passport in another country!! yikes, or the person petrified to leave the neighborhood, let alone city or even the United States.

Thank god, I’m a little more calculating or willing to take measured risk.  The State department’s memorandum is quite clear, then again it is a bit nebulous depending on one’s perspective.

Even prior to the announcement,  within a trip already scheduled to be in DC, I had planned to visit the Cuba Embassy/Consulate.  My primary purpose is to get specifics on obtaining my travel visa which is needed for entry into Cuba.  My concern is the disparity in pricing of the tourist visa as if the true or only cost is $100 (from LAX) then, that is what it will be!!!  Period.  But, I need to justify the why, from a legitimate authority.

Now for those like me who are traveling to Cuba and also may be concerned about today’s State department announcement my suggestion is to do like I did.  Step back and think rationally, then since it is tough to contact the State Department for a real conversation, you are better off contacting your CONGRESSIONAL representative.  Mine was extremely knowledgeable and pleasant.  And yes, I received the information I am seeking.

Today’s State Department announcement is not a mandate or a directive but more of an alert.  So, while some may in fact cancel their trip, given my planning and familiarity of where I will be visiting, I am willing to take my chances and keep my schedule in place.  So, as of today I have a green light.

Listed below is the announcement by the State Department in response to the issues affecting the United States Embassy in Cuba.


Actions Taken in Response to Attacks on U.S. Government Personnel in Cuba

Remarks

Rex W. Tillerson
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
September 29, 2017

Over the past several months, 21 U.S. Embassy employees have suffered a variety of injuries from attacks of an unknown nature. The affected individuals have exhibited a range of physical symptoms, including ear complaints, hearing loss, dizziness, headache, fatigue, cognitive issues, and difficulty sleeping. Investigators have been unable to determine who is responsible or what is causing these attacks.

United States Embassy in Havana, Photo courtesy of Fred Thomas, III

On September 29, the Department ordered the departure of non-emergency personnel assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Havana, as well as all family members. Until the Government of Cuba can ensure the safety of our diplomats in Cuba, our Embassy will be reduced to emergency personnel in order to minimize the number of diplomats at risk of exposure to harm.

In conjunction with the ordered departure of our diplomatic personnel, the Department has issued a Travel Warning advising U.S. citizens to avoid travel to Cuba and informing them of our decision to draw down our diplomatic staff. We have no reports that private U.S. citizens have been affected, but the attacks are known to have occurred in U.S. diplomatic residences and hotels frequented by U.S. citizens. The Department does not have definitive answers on the cause or source of the attacks and is unable to recommend a means to mitigate exposure.

The decision to reduce our diplomatic presence in Havana was made to ensure the safety of our personnel. We maintain diplomatic relations with Cuba, and our work in Cuba continues to be guided by the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States. Cuba has told us it will continue to investigate these attacks and we will continue to cooperate with them in this effort.

The health, safety, and well-being of our Embassy community is our greatest concern. We will continue to aggressively investigate these attacks until the matter is resolved.

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