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Is Cuba safe for U.S. travelers
November 17, 2017
Recently Cuba has been in the news quite a bit. First, the devastation of Hurricane Irma. Then accusations by the Trump administration of alleged ‘sonic attacks’ on diplomatic staff in Havana.
First, I wish to assure you that Cuba is up and running post-Irma, and the recovery is beyond impressive. Pinar del Río—tobacco country, west of Havana—was not impacted at all. Havana itself suffered considerable flooding and several buildings collapsed, along with countless trees and electricity poles, etc. However, as the New York Times reported, Cuba’s disaster response effort is “a well-oiled machine” and was geared up for action the moment the hurricane passed.
In fact, I have just returned from Cuba after leading yet another successful group people-to-people tour for National Geographic Expeditions. I wasn’t surprised in the least to find not a single fallen tree or telegraph pole, and virtually no other evidence that a hurricane had swept through Havana.
More remarkable is that several of the resorts of Cayo Santa María, which were badly damaged by Irma, are already repaired and open for business.
More importantly is the lasting effect of charges by the Trump of ‘sonic attacks’ and the corollary State Department advisory warning against travel to Cuba, which have caused understandable trepidation among potential travelers to Cuba.
In my opinion, that was the desired effect! The allegation has the appearance of (pardon the pun) being trumped up as a politically motivated attempt to scare potential travelers and reduce U.S.-Cuba travel.
It’s worth noting that no names of diplomatic personnel supposedly affected have been released, nor any corroborating evidence whatsoever presented. Moreover, Cuba even invited the FBI to investigate, and the four FBI teams (and Royal Canadian Mounted Police team) that were sent to Havana found no evidence of the purported ‘attacks.’
The charges thus remain very questionable allegations.
Many of my industry colleagues have been in regular contact with the State Department, and I share their unanimous belief that the advisory is unwarranted. With the utmost respect to the State Department, these claims (and especially those of two civilians who claim to have experienced health effects following travel to Cuba… several years ago, it should be noted) are clearly defined as ‘unconfirmed’ and ‘unverifiable,’ and seem to be based more on politics, paranoia or other factors. (Indeed, leading U.S. and British neurologists concur that the symptoms reported most likely reflect psychosomatic “mass hysteria”: read more.)
I feel strongly that the advisory is not based on fact and that there is no evidence to support it.
As I stated, I just returned from Cuba with a group… and no-one suffered any headaches!
Cuba remains the safest country in Latin America and its doors are open for travel.Tags: christopher baker, cuba, culture, havana, hurricane irma, national geographic, people-to-people, sonic attacks, tours, travel