The recently reopened U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba, may be closed again, according to new reports. The Trump administration may be considering closing it down, following a string of unexplained ailments affecting U.S. diplomats in the country. According to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the attacks are “under evaluation,” and the future of the embassy as a whole is under review.
The State Department says the symptoms of the affliction experienced are similar to those experienced after a concussion. Some of the symptoms include nausea, headaches and ear-ringing. There have been 21 medically confirmed U.S. victims, including diplomats and their families, leaving some with permanent hearing loss, while others are struggling with concentration or other forms of cognitive disruption, according to the Associated Press.
The State Department is calling the unexplained ailments a potential “sonic” attack. According to reports, some victims felt vibrations or heard loud sounds, which were only audible in certain parts of rooms, leading investigators to consider the “sonic attack” theory, although some of the people who reported symptoms heard nothing.
On Sunday, during an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Tillerson commented about the possibility of closing the Cuban embassy, in response to the attacks.
“We have it under evaluation,” Tillerson said of a possible embassy closure. “It’s a very serious issue with respect to the harm that certain individuals have suffered. We’ve brought some of those people home. It’s under review.”
His comments are the strongest indication to date that the United States might mount a major diplomatic response, which has the potential to damage relations between the U.S. and Cuba, so recently restored. The two former foes were Cold War adversaries, relations between the two countries tenuous until a diplomatic relationship was restored in 2015. Embassies in Washington and Havana were reopened the same year.
In February, Cuban authorities said they had set up an inter-institutional expert committee to analyze the facts regarding the suspected attacks, as well as expanded and reinforced the protection measures for U.S. diplomats and their staff.
Despite their efforts, additional attacks were reported. The U.S. responded by expelling two Cuban diplomats in May of 2017. The Department of Sate informed the Cuban Embassy in Washington of the decision, which Cuba maintains was unjustified.
You can see Tillerson’s comments in the video below:
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