The largest US association of travel organizers in Cuba, after holding an assembly of its members, issued a statement in which it unanimously disagrees with the decision of the US State Department to withdraw 60% of its Embassy staff from Cuba. Havana and its warning to US citizens to avoid their trips to Cuba.
As a result, the US Consulate in Havana suspended the issuance of visas for travel to the United States indefinitely, although it will continue to provide emergency services to US citizens when they are in Cuba.
The motivation for these actions is that it has been known that 21 US diplomats accredited in Havana have reported hearing problems of unknown origin.
“From the evidence available to date and from the fact that the State Department asserts that no other American citizen has been affected, we believe that such a decision is unjustified and,
therefore, we will continue to organize trips to Cuba and encourage others to do so.” said Bob Guild, Co-Coordinator of RESPECT (Responsible Ethical Tourism of Cuba), a professional association made up of 150 representatives of travel agents, tour operators and other service providers related to trips to the island founded in December of 2016, on the anniversary of the opening of the Cuban-American dialogue.
Guild emphasized that US law allows citizens and US residents to travel to Cuba and there is no provision from the State Department that would in any way prohibit US citizens from visiting the island.
At the aforementioned RESPECT meeting, representatives of US commercial airlines traveling to Cuba express their intention to continue to do so.
Gail Reed, founder of the scientific journal MEDICC and deputy coordinator of RESPECT, said categorically in the proposal that “Cuba remains a very safe destination for travelers from the United States.”
At the invitation of the Cuban authorities, the FBI was in Havana earlier looking for evidence of what the United States has described as “sonic attacks” causing hearing loss and other symptoms, but its agents found no device or other evidence to explain the mystery.
None of the 500,000 US visitors to Cuba this year2017 have reported similar health problems and, according to Secretary of State Tillerson’s statement last week, “we have no reports from any other US citizen who has been affected …”.
Neither have had detours approximately two million deturistas of other countries that has visited Cuba in what goes of the present year.
Not a single guest has experienced in Cuba problems related to “hearing loss” or other health claims that concern the Trump administration.
Of the many thousands of foreign guests who were in Cubacuando the island was recently whipped from one end to the other by Hurricane “Irma” not one was damaged. Cuba remains one of the safest nations in the world for its guests and there are no drug wars, no terrorism, no
arms trafficking, no gang wars, no kidnappings, no tropical pandemics.
The president of AFSA , an association representing 15,000 US diplomats around the world, Barbara Stephenson, has opposed any decision to withdraw diplomats from Cuba. He said that his members are against the reduction of the Embassy staff in Havana and that they are
prepared to continue their mission regardless of whether there are real health problems. “We have to stay in the field and play,” Stephenson said.
In response to Washington’s move to reduce its embassy’s diplomatic staff in Cuba, Josefina Vidal, the Director General of US Affairs in the Cuban Foreign Ministry, called the decision a precipitous decision and considered that this will affect bilateral relations and cooperation in areas of interest mutual. Vidal had urged the United States not to politicize the issue and insisted that Cuba needs active cooperation from the US authorities to reach a definitive conclusion.
Obviously, we are in the presence of a new maneuver against Cuba of the sectors of the extreme right terrorist in the foreign policy of the American government. The insistence on the issue by
representatives of these sectors of US diplomacy, as Republican Senator Marco Rubio, confirms this hypothesis.
October 2, 2017.
Manuel Y. Yepe is a lawyer, economist and journalist. He was a professor at the Higher Institute of International Relations in Havana. He was Cuba’s ambassador to Romania, general director of the Prensa Latina agency;vice president of the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television; founder and National Director of the Technological Information System (TIPS) of the United Program for Development in Cuba, and secretary of the Cuban Movement for the Peace and Sovereignty of the Peoples
A CubaNews translation
Edited by Walter Lippmann
Back to Article Listing