You might be dealing with travelers who are concerned over the current situation with Cuba and are perhaps concerned about traveling there based on recent announcements and media coverage. Vaya Sojourns feels that it is our ethical obligation to share with you the facts that we have uncovered while intensely monitoring this situation in the media and also within our own inside circle of contacts in the United States and Cuba.
- Our government is calling the symptoms that 21 government employees serving in Havana are having, “sonic attacks”. At least that is what has been reported by multiple news agencies. The fact is that nobody knows what happened. FBI Investigators cooperating with Cuban officials have been unable to discover a source of these symptoms or an instrument that could create these kinds of symptoms so the “sonic attack” theory is just that, a theory. There is no forensic, scientific or any other evidence that has been reported to date with any conclusions by any agency, entity or country that is investigating the matter. Non-emergency officials have been asked to vacate Cuba as a safety measure while the investigation continues, but 40% of the Embassy remains open and that is the key, our Government hasn’t sought to shutter diplomatic relations with Cuba and has stopped short of accusing Cuba of any “attacks”.
- The U.S State Department has advised groups traveling to Cuba not to travel to Cuba based on these “sonic attacks”, but the travel warning also states that the US and Cuba haven’t identified a responsible party and because they can’t figure out who or what is behind this or causing it, they’re sending diplomatic personnel home as a precaution. It needs to be well noted here, and clearly understood by you and your clients that not one single visitor (tourist or otherwise) has reported similar symptoms.
- In a press release that was issued shortly before the travel warning, Secretary of State Tillerson stated, “We have no reports that private U.S. citizens have been affected, but the attacks are known to have occurred in US. Diplomatic residences and hotels frequented by U.S citizens.” These symptoms were first reported in May, if there was a time for a travel warning it would have been then.
- Before and since May, thousands of American citizens have traveled to Cuba without incident. Also, the symptoms that were reported were actually only reported at one hotel (Hotel Capri) and only by diplomatic personnel. There is no known evidence to support that these symptoms were caused at the hotel or at diplomatic residences, but this is the working theory (again, a theory).
- What we do know is that there is no evidence whatsoever that these symptoms have been reported from anybody that has frequented any of the hotels, restaurants or general tourist sites.
- The US and Cuba are working together to understand what has happened here, no Cuban has been asked to leave the US save 2 Cuban diplomats being asked to leave Washington months ago when this was reported as a knee jerk response from the White House for a situation that they learned of and had little to no information about. All diplomatic Cuban personnel has remained in the US and in fact, top diplomats from Cuba have been working with the State Department this week on this matter. The fact that the US is keeping our Embassy open is a much more positive sign that the two countries want to continue diplomatic relations.
Our firm position is that this is another attempt from the White House and a very few hardline Republican Senators led by Marco Rubio to continue to damage the détente and overall goodwill built by the Obama Administration. We feel very strongly that this issue is 100% centered around the deal made between Donald Trump and Marco Rubio to help secure the Florida vote during the election. Our request to you is to have a consultative conversation with your client who is considering cancelling or not going to Cuba. It is in the best interest of our Travel Partners, and most importantly our mutual clients, to make sure that they understand the full picture and are properly educated before making snap judgement calls based on incomplete or inaccurate reporting and out of date and politically motivated travel warnings.
Please remind and advise your clients – Cuba is still Cuba – that “dream-bucket-list” destination it always has been! Cuba hasn’t changed – the current US administration sitting in the White House has.