Today, President Trump ordered the removal of 15 Cuban diplomats from its U.S. located embassy. The move comes in response to yet another American diplomat affected by the strange sonic attacks that have been plaguing the U.S. embassy in Havana for nearly a year. The source of the attacks is unknown.
The attacks, which cause hearing loss, dizziness, headaches, fatigue, cognitive issues, and difficulty sleeping, prompted the State Department to remove all non-emergency embassy personnel from Cuba last week. The intent of the Cuban expulsion from the U.S. is said to balance the diplomatic presence between the countries, not punish the Cuban government. At the same time, it’s also said to be an act of protest at Cuba’s inability to protect Americans from the mysterious attacks. The announcement comes at a time when U.S. and Cuban affairs were thought to be on the mend. The removal has instead made relations tense.
With a truncated presence, Americans traveling to Cuba only have embassy assistance for emergency situations. The pull out comes in the wake of the Trump Administration’s restrictions on travel to the newly accessible country, which was announced in July 2017. Americans who still wish to visit Cuba may do so only in a group or a tour outfit. People-to-people travel, the most popular American travel to Cuba, is prohibited.
Yet, sonic attacks on the American embassy have not had an impact on tourist experience, according to U.S. tour operators. While American diplomats have been the target of the attacks, no tourists have been harmed or made to feel unsafe. Though the State Department has issued a warning to Americans not to travel to Cuba because of the attacks, travel restrictions have not changed.
Despite the developments, many tour operators report having positive experiences in Cuba. Representatives in the travel industry cite exaggeration in reference to the State Department’s warnings. Cruise ships, airlines, and package tourism continue service to Cuba.