The Washington Post, September 15, 2017
The Latest: GOP senators want US pushback on Cuba
By Associated Press September 15 at 12:45 PM
HAVANA — The Latest on the U.S. response to diplomats mysteriously harmed in Cuba (all times local):
Five Republican senators are urging Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to punish Cuba after U.S. diplomats stationed in the island nation were harassed and injured under mysterious circumstances.
They want Tillerson to expel accredited Cuban diplomats from the United States and, if Cuba doesn’t take swift action to ensure the safety of American personnel, shutter the U.S. Embassy in Havana.
The letter follows an Associated Press report that examined “health attacks” against U.S. diplomats in Cuba that have caused hearing loss and speech problems for at least 21 victims. The State Department, FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies are investigating.
The letter was signed by Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Richard Burr of North Carolina, John Cornyn of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida, and James Lankford of Oklahoma.
The Department of State advises U.S. citizens to avoid travel to Cuba while Hurricane Irma recovery efforts are underway. Large parts of the country, including many areas of the capital Havana, are without power and running water. Transportation is difficult and many roads remain impassable due to downed trees and power lines. While Cuban authorities are working to clear the debris, it will be several days before roads are fully open in Havana. Outside the capital, north central Cuba suffered severe damage and should be avoided until further notice. On September 6, the Department authorized the voluntary departure of U.S. government employees and their family members due to Hurricane Irma. This is an update to the Travel Warning for Cuba issued September 6, 2017.
Travelers should apprise family and friends in the United States of their whereabouts, and keep in close contact with their travel agency, hotel staff, and local officials.
U.S. citizens in Cuba in need of assistance should contact the Embassy by telephone at +53- 5280-5791 or the Department of State at 1-202-501-4444. At this time, U.S. citizens should not attempt to go to the U.S. Embassy in Havana as it suffered severe flood damage.
You can inform the Department of State about U.S. citizens affected by the hurricane who require emergency assistance through the following ways:
- Visit Task Force Alert and select “2017 Hurricane Irma”
- Email IrmaEmergencyUSC@state.gov and provide as much information as possible (at a minimum, please provide their full name, gender, and last known location within country, if known).
- Call us at 1-888-407-4747 (from the U.S. & Canada), +1-202-501-4444 (from Overseas)
- Contact the U.S. Citizens Services Unit of the U.S. Embassy’s Consular Section by telephone at (+53) 5280-5791.
For further information:
- Visit the Embassy Havana website for the latest messages to U.S. citizens and other information related to Embassy operations.
- See the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information for Cuba.
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive the latest security updates and make it easier for the nearest U.S. Embassy to locate you in an emergency.
- Follow the U.S. Embassy in Havana on Twitter and Facebook and the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs on Twitter and Facebook.