A group of Senators, including Florida Senator Marco Rubio, are calling on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to shutter the U.S. embassy in Cuba after 21 Americans, living in the country, have been struck with bizarre health problems.
"Cuba’s neglect of its duty to protect our diplomats and their families cannot go unchallenged," Republican Sens. Tom Cotton (AR), Richard Burr (NC), John Cornyn (TX), Marco Rubio (FL.) and James Lankford (OK), said in the letter to Tillerson, released Friday. ""The safety of U.S. diplomatic personnel and their families posted overseas remains one of our high priorities and a shared responsibility of those nations that host U.S. diplomatic facilities."
Since late 2016, U.S. diplomats returning from Cuba have complained about a "mystery illness" that they say is robbing them of their hearing — and in some cases, has caused permanent brain damage. The latest American to complain returned in August.
Between the fall of 2016 and late summer 2017, 21 separate individuals have voiced complaints to the State Department. They say they began to feel symptoms similar to those associated with having a concussion, after spending several days in Havana. In each case, doctors confirmed the damage.
Diplomats — and the complaining Senators — say the illness is the result of a "health attack." At least one U.S. official says he began to feel queasy and lose his hearing after he heard a strange noise coming through the wall of his hotel room. Ten Canadians also reported "sonic attacks" that left them suffering from nausea, headaches, and nosebleeds.
Cuba, of course, says it has absolutely no idea what happened, that the government was definitely not involved, and that they have their best men on the case.
Then-President Barack Obama agreed to a policy change on Cuba in October 2016, around the same time the attacks began. President Donald Trump has been gradually rolling back Obama's outreach initiatives, and just last month the State Department kicked two Cuban diplomats out of Washington D.C. for an unspecified reason.