Please read our open letter in response to the U.S. State Department’s recent Travel Warning on Cuba and the removal of nonessential diplomatic staff:
It’s likely you have seen Cuba in the news recently with regards to unexplained health ailments among US government workers in Cuba, prompting the United States to allege the possibility of ‘sonic attacks’ and proceed to withdraw all nonessential diplomatic personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Havana, expel 60% of Cuban diplomatic staff from the Cuban Embassy in Washington, and issue a travel warning for US citizens traveling to Cuba.
As a human rights organization that has been organizing groups of travelers to Cuba for nearly 30 years, we at Global Exchange feel the need to set the record straight and call out the blatant inaccuracies and likely agenda of the Trump administration as it relates to these developments.
The reality is that Cuba remains one of the safest destinations for travelers in all of Latin America.
The incidents under investigation remain unexplained, but there does not appear to be any evidence that these ‘sonic attacks’ were Cuban state policy. The Cuban government has continually reiterated they don’t have that technology, and U.S. experts say they don’t even know of technology that would produce the reported symptoms. In fact, many scientists doubt the veracity of the reports. Cuba even took the remarkable step of inviting the FBI to Havana after the U.S. first reported the incidents.
Most importantly, there are NO reports of injuries or harm to US travelers in recent months, nor evidence of risk for future injury or harm.
Rather, it is our view that we currently find ourselves in the midst of an opportunistic deceit and fear campaign being waged against Cuba by the Trump administration. The only justification for the diplomatic changes and travel warning can be an effort to sow discord and sabotage the positive steps towards normalization that the US and Cuba have made over the past few years. It appears Trump is using the supposed incidents as a pawn in his game to torpedo reconciliation begun under Obama.
The recent travel warning issued by the State Department is misleading, reckless and wrong. Its tactic is to scare would-be travelers away from visiting Cuba under the pretext of it being unsafe, despite all evidence to the contrary.
With a potential reduction in US visitors, the ones who will suffer the most are ordinary Cubans who depend upon the tourism industry for income and livelihood: the taxi drivers, the small business owners, the tour guides, the craft vendors, and those who rent rooms in their homes.
It is also important to note that, with the reduced embassy staff in Havana, the US is indefinitely suspending visa processing for Cubans to visit the United States or emigrate. This means practically cutting off family visits.
In the face of the hostility and propaganda currently being produced by the Trump administration and State Department, it has now become more important than ever to bring solidarity and friendship to the island while supporting the besieged Cuban tourism economy, which has also suffered two major hurricanes this year.
We cannot let Trump win this one. If you have been considering visiting Cuba, we urge you to look past the misleading headlines and see through the fear tactics of the current administration. In doing so, we hope you will feel inspired to visit Cuba and experience all it has to offer.
Whether it is through Global Exchange Reality Tours or another authorized travel provider, there remains so much to learn and enjoy in Cuba. And in the process, you’ll see for yourself that the reality in Cuba is miles and miles away from the picture being painted by Trump and his State Department.
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