Cuba’s Foreign Minister warned the U.S. Secretary of State during their meeting Tuesday to not be hasty with decisions regarding the alleged attacks on U.S. diplomats in Cuba, Reuters reports. He also urged authorities to cooperate in regards to the ongoing investigation into the affair.
The meeting between Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is the highest level meeting to take place between Cuba and the U.S. since President Donald Trump took office. The FM called for the meeting amid rising tensions between the two former Cold War adversaries.
The mystery attacks and their injuries were first reported beginning in October 2016. Cuban officials were made aware of the attacks on Feb. 17 of this year. A State Department spokesperson told reporters on Tuesday that there were a confirmed total of 21 cases, Vice News reports. McClatchy reported that number has climbed in recent weeks, with various reports alleging there are 25 confirmed injuries. Diplomats have reported suffering from various ailments, including minor cerebral lesions, hearing loss and nausea.
Just 10 days ago, Tillerson said the U.S. plans to close the recently re-opened embassy in Cuba. Earlier this year, Washington expelled two Cuban diplomats when the reports of the mystery attacks were first released.
According to a readout, the meeting “took place in a respectful ambiance.”
Foreign Minister Rodriguez confirmed in his meeting with Tillerson that the investigation into the alleged attacks remains ongoing. He seemed to chastise the U.S., noting that “effective cooperation” with authorities was essential to resolving the case.
“It would be regrettable that a matter of this nature is politicized and that hasty decisions not supported by conclusive evidence and investigation results are taken,” Rodriguez added.
Rodriguez also stressed that the Cuban government “has never perpetrated nor will it ever perpetrate attacks of any kind against diplomats,” Reuters writes.
So far, Cuba’s own investigation into the mystery attacks hasn’t revealed much of note. They have so far uncovered no evidence as to the cause or origin of the ailments U.S. diplomats have been suffering.
According to Reuters, experts are in agreement that it is difficult to tell how the attacks may have been carried out, or even the possible motivations.
The White House confirms that the U.S. does not believe Cuba to be behind what is being labeled as “sonic” attacks.
However, government sources cannot seem to agree on Cuba’s guilt in the matter. Some sources echo various comments, saying, “No one believes that the Cubans are responsible.” According to McClatchy though, many believe it is “naive” to think Cuba entirely innocent in the matter.
“Those of us on the Hill have been crystal clear on this issue,” McClatchy cites an unnamed congressional source. “Either the Cuban government is behind this or they know who did this and have been complicit in these nefarious activities.”
Reuters puts forth several theories that have been circulating as to explanations for the mystery attacks. One theory discussed is that it was due to “surveillance technology gone awry.” Another surmises the attacks are due to a “sophisticated acoustic weapon in the hands of Cuban-American exiles.” Yet another hypothesizes that a “third-party state actor” such as Russia, Iran or North Korea had a hand in the attacks. Most theories flounder, reading more like science fiction or conspiracy theories.
According to Reuters, audiologists have expressed doubt that a “sonic weapon” capable of the damage reported by U.S. diplomats exists.
Investigators remain baffled. This is perhaps in part due to the fact that the range of issues and circumstances vary widely.
After the meeting, the U.S. still plans to pull several diplomats and their families from Havana due to the mystery health crisis. The embassy will not close, as of now, but will continue to operate with a skeletal staff.
Several Canadian diplomats, according to Vice News, have also been affected by the mystery “sonic” attacks. All have since recovered.