Cuba Mystery: Even Castro Baffled by Harm to US Diplomats

In rarity, Cuban president didn't accuse US officials of lying
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 16, 2017 12:40 PM CDT
Cuba Mystery: Even Castro Baffled by Harm to US Diplomats
n this Nov. 29, 2016 file photo, Cuba President Raul Castro speaks during a rally in Havana.   (Ricardo Mazalan)

Raul Castro seemed rattled. The Cuban president sent for the top American envoy in the country to address grave concerns about a spate of US diplomats harmed in Havana. There was talk of futuristic "sonic attacks" and the subtle threat of repercussions by the US. The way Castro responded surprised Washington, several US officials familiar with the exchange told the AP. In a rare face-to-face conversation, Castro told US diplomat Jeffrey DeLaurentis that he was equally baffled, and concerned. Predictably, Castro denied any responsibility. But US officials were caught off guard by the way he addressed the matter, devoid of the indignant, how-dare-you-accuse-us attitude the US had come to expect from Cuba's leaders.

The Cubans even offered to let the FBI come down to Havana to investigate. Though US-Cuban cooperation has improved recently, this level of access was extraordinary. Today, the number of "medically confirmed" American victims stands at 21. Some have permanent hearing loss or mild brain injury. The developments have frightened Havana's tight-knit diplomatic community. But several US officials say there are real reasons to question whether Cuba perpetrated a clandestine campaign of aggression. When the US has accused Cuba in the past of misbehavior, Havana has often accused Washington of making it up. This time, although Castro denied involvement, his government didn't dispute that something troubling may have gone down on Cuban soil. Read the full AP report here. (More Cuba stories.)

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