Cuban official: Still no clue on U.S. diplomat health mystery
By JENNIFER PELTZ
UNITED NATIONS — Cuba so far hasn’t unearthed any information about who or what caused a mysterious series of health incidents that have affected U.S. and Canadian diplomats in Havana, its top diplomat said Friday.
Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla told the U.N. General Assembly that early results from its investigation have to date “found no evidence whatsoever that could confirm the causes or the origin” of the problems, though the inquiry is continuing.
“It would be unfortunate if a matter of this nature is politicized,” Rodriguez added in a speech that also laid into U.S. President Donald Trump as a leader with a “supremacist vision” of “America First.” Trump had slammed Cuba’s leadership as “corrupt and destabilizing” in his own General Assembly speech Tuesday.
At least 21 Americans and several Canadians in Havana’s diplomatic community have suffered from symptoms, including hearing loss and brain damage, believed to have come from some sort of sonic attack. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has described the incidents as “health attacks.”
Cuba has said it knows nothing about them. Rodriguez reiterated that denial Friday, saying Cuba hasn’t and wouldn’t take such actions or let anyone else do so on its territory.
The U.S. and Cuba, foes since the island nation’s 1959 Communist revolution, began normalizing relations in 2014. They reopened embassies in each other’s capitals the next year.
But Trump has taken steps to roll back the rapprochement since he took office in January. While he kept some elements of predecessor President Barack Obama’s policy, Trump announced this summer that the U.S. would impose new limits on Americans traveling to Cuba and ban any payments to the military-linked conglomerate that controls much of the island’s tourism industry. He said the U.S. wouldn’t consider lifting those and other restrictions unless Cuba returned fugitives and made a series of internal changes, including freeing political prisoners and holding free elections.
And Trump underlined his criticisms of Cuba by mentioning them in his debut address to world leaders at the General Assembly.
“The United States has stood against the corrupt and destabilizing regime in Cuba and embraced the enduring dream of the Cuban people to live in freedom,” he said.
Rodriguez rebuked Trump over his “America First” policy and celebration of national sovereignty and “nations that are home to patriots.”
“It embodies an exceptionalist and supremacist vision of ignorant intolerance in the face of diverse political, economic, social and cultural models,” Rodriguez said. “The U.S. president manipulates the concepts of sovereignty and security to his exclusive benefit and to the detriment of all others, including his allies.
He said Trump “ignores and distorts history and portrays a pipe dream as a goal to be pursued,” reciting a list of ills he said capitalism had wrought, from colonialism to Latin American economic struggles in the 1980s.
America’s U.N. mission had no immediate response to Rodriguez’ remarks.
This story has been changed to correct the first name of the Cuban foreign minister to Bruno.
Associated Press writer Edith M. Lederer contributed.