Access to the U.S. market is a privilege, not a right. Visas, access to our world-class financial and legal systems, and even our airwaves are policed so that bad actors can’t, among other things, harm or undermine U.S. national security and interests. Just 90 miles away, one would think Socialist Cuba officials would understand this basic idea but, judging from the latest Havana volley, they don’t.
Likely concerned about the upcoming release of new U.S. sanctions regulations that may restrict travel and economic relations between Cuba and the United States, the Cuban government has released a 30-minute propaganda video related to a series of incidents that have resulted in permanent injuries to Americans station at the U.S. Embassy in Havana.
It is something out of the Cold War. An odd hodgepodge of dated B-roll narrated with images, including Cicadas, as well as interviews with “experts” claiming the incidents never happened.
For a government claiming acoustic weapons, or similar devices, that could cause brain trauma do not exist, the Cubans sure have a lot of experts commenting claiming to know how these non-existing devices would work if the devices did exist. At one point in the presentation the narrator suggests Cicadas are the culprits! Someone has a cruel sense of humor.
The video is nothing more than another piece of Cuba’s propaganda effort designed to distract interested parties from getting to the truth. They need to salvage as much of the Obama-era policy changes because, frankly, it means dollars and cents needed for regime succession.
During the course of the last few weeks, the Trump administration, working with the Congress, has unveiled a series of legislative strategies to counter Cuban security threats to Americans in Cuba and in the United States. More is likely in the offing.
Injuries sustained by American citizens on Cuban soil is no joke but it is clear from the video that someone, likely Raul Castro, has a perverse sense of humor. Victims of Cuban communism will see through the presentation as nothing more than a red herring timed for the winter travel season. They want Americans who are considering travel to Cuba to know that all is well in the Caribbean Potemkin.
As part of the Obama administration rapprochement, Cuba was allowed to broadcast Cuban government programming, such as this video, in the United States. Just as president Trump expelled Cuban diplomats from Washington, D.C. to protest Cuba’s lack of cooperation, CUBAMAXTV programming access to U.S. cable providers should be temporarily suspended until this matter is satisfactory resolved.
Nothing, generally, happens in Cuba without Raul Castro and his senior leadership team knowing about it. Was it an acoustic attack? A listening operation gone bad? A combination of all that? Something else? Cuba claims it needs US cooperation, and not so ironically, access to U.S. intelligence and technology, to conduct a more fulsome investigation. That level of cooperation is earned, not freely given.
According to a colleague who analyzed the video, the Cubans discuss, at the video timestamp 16:05, the number of diplomatic visas that the State Department had requested from the Cubans to staff Post Havana. There is a list of names in that video that my colleague claims are Americans who worked at Post Havana. If true, that is a really odd way to earn trust, violating the privacy of American citizens. How did they get those names? Who are they? Why publish them surreptitiously?
Frankly, we may never know, but Cuba must be held to account for failing to keep Americans safe in Cuba or, more likely, for engaging in a series of failed monitoring and pressure operations targeting Americans stationed at the embassy.