The decision of the United States to withdraw 60% of its diplomatic personnel in Havana is not a sanction against the Cuban Government, but a preventive measure in order to protect the physical integrity of its staff in the near future.

Neither the temporary suspension of the processing of visas is a sanction, but the practical result of having to withdraw a substantial part of this personnel abruptly, to ensure their safety. While it is true that this situation will have an immediate impact on the population, the idea that the temporary cessation of visas is a sanction against the Cuban people is a direct lie from the Cuban Intelligence disinformation industry.

Those unequivocally responsible for stalling the process of granting visas at this time are General Raul Castro, and his son, Colonel Alejandro Castro Espín.  Once again, the Cuban population has been affected by the reckless and irresponsible actions of the Castro family.

Fidel Castro would have solved this crisis expeditiously by looking for scapegoats among senior officers that would be ordered to self-incriminate themselves for the sonic attacks against U.S. diplomats. Most likely he would have later ordered them to be executed, to “cleanse the honor of the revolution with blood”.

His brother Raul cannot arrange such a spectacle. It would be inconceivable for any current Ministry of the Interior (MININT) high ranking officer to lay down their life for such theatrics. They learned the lesson of 1989 when a bunch of high officers who believed in the word of Fidel Castro – as was the case with General Arnaldo Ochoa and Colonel Antonio La Guardia- were shot immediately after admitting their involvement in international drug trafficking and denying that their Commander in Chief knew anything about those drug smuggling operations.

To further complicate matters, if Raul Castro were to declare tomorrow that he was not aware of what was happening, his son, Colonel Alejandro Castro Espín, could not say the same. As the supervisor of all intelligence and counter-intelligence operations, Castro Espín could not avoid his responsibility in the sonic attacks and their harmful effects. One should bear in mind that there were several months during which the wailing of the victims were clearly registered by multiple listening devices and espionage systems used by MININT. Castro Espín did nothing to investigate the situation. The possibility of incriminating other MININT officials without involving Castro Espín and his evident neglect, is highly unlikely.

Due to a lack of (either voluntary or coerced) scapegoats, the only remaining course of action for the Cuban Government was to vehemently deny being the cause of the attacks affecting the health of U.S. diplomats. The General Directorate of Intelligence (DGI) has been forced to fully deploy its arsenal of “active measures” and disinformation techniques.  In their narrative, they insist that the Cuban Government is innocent and is the most interest in cooperating with Washington in “investigating” what happened. However, Raul Castro’s alleged commitment toward the development of good bilateral relations is a tough sell. His record at the helm with Cuba since 2007 has proved the opposite.

The first important initiative that Raul Castro took after winning over the Democrats at the White House and the two chambers of Congress in 2008 was to jail Alan Gross, an American contractor who had, until then, visited Cuba on various occasions without any obstacles. By placing Gross in jail, Raul Castro also “jailed” all possible initiatives for improving the bilateral relations during the first years of Barack Obama being in office, when there was a full democratic political hegemony in Washington affairs.

President Obama’s advisers sold him on taking the initiative to achieve the re-establishment of US- Cuba relations during his second presidential term. That was expected to become part of his historical legacy. Thus, they recommended to make every unilateral concessions, one after another, deemed necessary to achieve this. No single atrocity committed by the Cuban regime was to derail this personal “success” story for the President.

Smuggling the largest contraband of weapons ever recorded into North Korea; appropriating a Hellfire missile belonging to the U.S. Air Force for over a year; intensifying the crackdown on non-violent opposition movements; strengthening ties with Iran, and reinforcing the ruling mobsters in Venezuela with an army of military and intelligence advisers on repression and social control. All this was essentially overlooked, creating in Havana a perception that a “new normal” had emerged in the way to conduct bilateral relations. This new threshold of tolerance towards Havana’s behavior encouraged counterintelligence officers into conducting more aggressive actions, and now it’s U.S. Diplomats who end up paying the tab.

Did MININT intend to deliberately damage the health of U.S. diplomats, or did they simply increase their espionage operations using sonar technology that ultimately proved detrimental to the victims?  It is a subject open to debate, as is the type of device that was used, but both topics are secondary to the larger issue.

The most relevant factor in this conflict is that the Cuban Government is fully responsible — according to the Vienna Convention of 1961, which they are part of — for the protection of registered foreign diplomats on the island, and they offered no such protection before nor after Washington called their attention to this issue. What is relevant is that United States has been forced to take these security measures to protect the safety of its diplomats since Cuba has so far failed to take appropriate measures to that end.

Finally, these victims are entitled to be compensated. Most likely we’ll see lawsuits filed by some of them seeking justice and indemnization for the harm inflicted to them and their families.

This crisis has not ended. We’ll be hearing further news on these events for some time in the near future.

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