Seven months after the Trump administration notified the Cuban government that a number of Americans have suffered debilitating injuries from sonic harassment attacks, the former Army airborne infantry officer representing Arkansas in the Senate joined colleagues in signing a Sept. 15 letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson demanding he gets serious with the Marxist island nation.
“We urge Secretary Tillerson to remind the Cuban government of its obligation to protect American diplomats and to demand that it take verifiable action to remove these threats to them and their families,” said Sen. Thomas B. “Tom” Cotton, in a statement posted on his official Facebook page Friday.
“We also ask him to immediately declare all accredited Cuban diplomats in the United States persona non grata and, if Cuba does not take tangible action, to close the U.S. embassy in Havana,” Cotton said. “Persona non grata” is a formal diplomatic status, which means that the individual must leave the country.
Cotton co-signed the letter with senators Richard M. Burr (R.-N.C.), John Cornyn III (R.-Texas), Marco A. Rubio (R.-Fla.) and James P. Lankford (R-Okla.), which detailed the senators’ concerns the harassment and acoustic attacks on more than 20 American diplomats in Cuba.
The acoustic attacks took place after President Barack Obama restored diplomatic relations with Cuba and reopened the America embassy there July 20, 2015. The targeted sound attacks affected more than different members of the diplomatic staff differently, but the injuries were severe enough to force Americans to end their postings and return home.
Canadian diplomats were also targeted.
There is speculation that the attacks were executed with a secret sonic weapon.
Secretary Tillerson should expel Cubans in the US and close our embassy in Cuba over attacks on our diplomats: https://t.co/wqWHtpY1kE
— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) September 15, 2017
Closing the American embassy in Havana would be a dramatic reversal of Obama’s Cuban policy, highlighted by the former president’s high-profile trip to Cuba, accompanied by his family and a large entourage of administration officials and members of his political family.
In the letter to Tillerson, the senators expressed their frustration with both the State Department and the Cuban government.
“Our officials and their families have been the targets of unacceptable levels of harassment and “acoustic” attacks that, in some cases, have caused permanent hearing damage and other significant injuries,” they wrote. “The safety of U.S. diplomatic personnel and their families posted overseas remains one of our high priorities and a shared responsibility of those nations that host U.S. diplomatic facilities. We urge you to remind the Cuban government of its obligation and to demand that it take verifiable action to remove these threats to our personnel and their families.”
President Donald J. Trump, then a candidate for president, promised in a Sept. 16, 2016 speech in Miami that he would undo Obama’s appeasement of the Cuban regime and bring back sanctions against the regime in an effort to force reform there.
In July, the administration announced it was restricting tourism and other people-to-people programs.