American spies in Havana are among the most affected victims of the ongoing, mysterious attacks befalling U.S. and other foreign citizens in Cuba since President Donald Trump won in 2016, the Associated Press reports.
U.S. intelligence operatives were the first to report hearing bizarre, unknown sounds that caused strange physical symptoms, including headaches, hearing loss, and speech problems, around the time Trump defeated former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in November 2016, AP reports.
The attacks were carried out with precision, confined to specific rooms or portions of rooms with pinpoint accuracy.
Victims often described a sound similar to chirping crickets before experiencing any symptoms, but not all of the attacks produced an audible sound. Some were described as inaudible, which is causing some concern among investigators that believe the attackers are developing, or even already employing, more sophisticated methods.
American officials are still unsure if the spies were the first targets, or just the first Americans to report the attacks. The U.S. has confirmed 21 cases, and American intelligence operatives incurred arguably the worst damage reported thus far. U.S. spies have suffered brain damage, unrelenting hearing loss and other severe outcomes.
The U.S. State Department responded Friday, ordering all nonessential personnel in Cuba to evacuate the island. The Department also issued a travel warning to all Americans to not visit the island nation until the attacks are resolved.
Estados Unidos reduce personal diplomático en Cuba hasta que el gobierno cubano pueda garantizar su seguridad. pic.twitter.com/Qpacn3e4xn
— USA en Español (@USAenEspanol) September 29, 2017
Cuban President Raul Castro has rejected any notion that the Cuban government is behind the attacks.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio issued a harsh response in the wake of recent reports, calling the initial response from the State Department “weak, unacceptable and outrageous.”
“In light of these harmful attacks against American diplomatic personnel in Cuba, it is weak, unacceptable and outrageous for the U.S. State Department to allow Raul Castro to keep as many of his operatives in the U.S. as he wants. The Cuban government has failed its obligation under international treaties to keep foreign diplomats safe on its soil,” Rubio said in a statement.
“Until those responsible for these attacks are brought to justice, the U.S. should immediately expel an equal number of Cuban operatives, downgrade the U.S. embassy in Havana to an interests section, and consider relisting Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism,” the senator said.
While some, like Rubio, are calling for a harsh, swift response, other groups want to see a reaction from American leadership that will not tarnish the recent strides for normalization between the U.S. and the island nation.
“The safety and security of all diplomatic personnel in Cuba, and anywhere in the world, is the first priority of our country. Whoever is behind these serious and inexcusable attacks on American diplomats must be apprehended and brought to justice,” James Williams, president of the pro-Cuban engagement group Engage Cuba, said in a statement released to The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“We must be careful that our response does not play into the hands of the perpetrators of these attacks, who are clearly seeking to disrupt the process of normalizing relations between our two countries. This could set a dangerous precedent that could be used by our enemies around the world,” Williams said.
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