Washington – Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez says the United States “does not have an atom of evidence” that Cuban government is responsible for the mysterious illnesses of U.S. embassy personnel in Havana and that the Trump administration is using the incident to further roll back U.S.-Cuba relations.
During a Thursday press conference in Washington D.C., Rodríguez said the United States is “politically motivated” to characterize the rash of illnesses of U.S. government employees as a Cuban “acoustic” attack and accused the Trump administration of “deliberate lies.”
He forcefully pushed back against the notion that anyone had targeted U.S. diplomats with acoustic weapons, indicating some of those who say they were affected could have been ill before travelling to Cuba and that the symptoms and likely causes of the ailments were varied.
He also said the FBI has provided no evidence Cuba of acoustic mischief and asked “why is the State Department and the White House insisting in classifying them as attacks?
“The Cuban government has no responsibility whatsoever in these incidents,” Rodríguez said.
Starting in November of 2016, U.S. government employees said they began to experience strange symptoms, often late at night. The Americans said that if they left the rooms they were in, the symptoms immediately stopped.
The State Department has said that 24 diplomats assigned to the embassy have suffered “attacks” that range from hearing loss to traumatic brain injury.
Rodríguez said the Cuban government had made an “exhaustive” investigation of U.S. claims and found nothing. He also criticized the U.S. government for not sharing pertinent information culled from the FBI investigation with the Cuban government.
The day before in New York, Rodríguez slammed Nikki Haley, U.S. representative to the United Nations. Haley called a plenary session criticizing the Israel and the United States, the two countries out of 193 member states who voted against a U.N. General Assembly resolution condemning the embargo, “political theater.” Rodríguez said Haley’s statements were “disrespectful” and that the United States lacked “the slightest moral authority” to criticize Cuba.
In his Washington D.C. press conference, Rodríguez ticked off a number of steps taken by the Trump administration that he said are eroding all good will generated by Obama administration’ efforts to normalize relations.
Among those are Trump’s hardline speech in Miami in June and the presidents move to tighten U.S. travel to the island and bar U.S. trade with Cuban companies run by the islands’ military. Regulations to implement those changes in embargo policy have not been implemented yet, but are expected before the end of the year.
Rodríguez also criticized the U.S. decision to expel 17 officials in the Cuban embassy in Washington and to issue a travel warning regarding Cuba. He said the steps taken against Cuba have been accompanied by “repeated disrespectful and offensive statements toward Cuba,” by Trump.
While Rodríguez warned of an “escalation” of bad relations, but said Cuba is willing to continue to talk to and cooperate with the United States on the investigation into the U.S. diplomats’ illnesses and other issues of common interest.
During his brief stay in Washington D.C. Rodríguez met with members of Congress and of the Cuban-American community.