Cuban regime officials are working overtime to confuse American policymakers about what may or may not have happened U.S. government personnel posted at the U.S. Embassy in Havana. Cuban officials have issued non-denial denials. They’ve published denials and even held a symposium at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
During high-level talks with American officials including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Cuban emissaries likely lied. A few weeks ago the Cubans blamed cicadas. Last week they issued a study claiming that it was stress related.
This week, however, Cuban propaganda ministers reached a new, and ghoulish, propaganda low. They staged an event at a cemetery with patients struggling with a series of audiological and neurological health ailments, including deafness.
“What we’ve said to the Cubans is: small island … you’ve got a sophisticated security apparatus. You probably know who is doing it. You can stop it. It’s as simple as that,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
I’ve embedded the video at the end of this post. The video opens with Cuban dictator Raul Castro escorting a group of young people to watch the changing of the guard ceremony as well as pay homage to dictator Fidel Castro. Yet this was not your ordinary group of Cuban youngsters. Comprised of former patients of Cuba’s National Cochlear Ear Implant Institute, audiologist Dr. Sandra Bermejo claims the patients asked to go to the cemetery to give thanks to the Revolution for helping them recover their hearing.
Dr. Bermejo is a Director of Cuba’s equivalent of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP). She is Cuba’s leading expert on hearing loss and treatments. According to dissidents in Cuba that I talked with about this video, Dr. Bermejo is likely leading a team of Cuban doctors and other experts who are advising the government on the injuries sustained by American citizens working at the U.S. Embassy.
Was this event timed to coincide with the release of information by the Americans on the science behind the injuries? Was it part of another non-denial denial effort or other odd propaganda end? Or was it just some pre-planned coincidence planned months ago? The answers to these and other questions do not matter, for now. What is clear is that Cuba is playing with political fire and, I think, they are going to get burned if they keep it up.
A few weeks ago there was supposed to be a Senate hearing on the Havana embassy incidents. It has been postponed for reasons unknown. I also heard about a Journal of the American Medical Association study that was supposed to have been released at the hearing. I’ve since been told by a source close the drafters of the survey that the New England Journal of Medicine, not JAMA, will be sharing or releasing a summary of the study.
Cuba knew or should’ve known what is happening on its tiny island. I think Cuba knew and was involved. The Cubans, and likely another foreign power such as the Russians, either wanted to listen to them or injure them. Cuban intelligence officers make a lucrative living spying on the United States and selling that information to our enemies and adversaries. So it is not a huge leap to conclude that this may have been a botched intelligence operation that appears to have affected many Americans stationed in Cuba. Again, whatever scheme or purpose the Cubans had in mind, it has apparently backfired.
When the Obama administration re-opened Post Havana, they should’ve known that Cuba would do something like this. This was the first time since the 1960s that such a large number of diplomats would be stationed in Cuba. Did they believe that Cuba would allow Americans free rein to do whatever they wanted to do in Cuba?
What were precautionary measures taken by the Obama administration, if any, to make sure the safety of Americans stationed in Cuba? Were American stationed in Cuba warned about likely monitoring by the Cubans, Russians, North Koreans, and others? Were the construction crews who worked at the U.S. Embassy adequately vetted? Who monitored the remodeling process? If a technology was deployed against Americans, has it been used in other hotels or places where American citizens stay while visiting Cuba?
Someone in Cuba has a dark sense of humor or bad intent, but this is no laughing matter. Americans were hurt and, according to some news reports, some seriously. Access to the U.S. market is a privilege, not a right. Cuba needs to pick a lane and a partner. For now, they are making all the wrong choices.