HAVANA,Sept.15th (AP) Raul Castro seemed as rattled as the Americans.
The Cuban president sent for the top American official in the country to address grave concerns about a spate of U.S. diplomats harmed in Havana. There was talk of futuristic “sonic attacks” and the subtle threat of repercussions by the United States, until recently Cuba’s sworn enemy.
The way Castro responded surprised Washington, several U.S. officials familiar with the exchange told The Associated Press.
In a rare face-to-face conversation, Castro told Jeffrey DeLaurentis, the American Embassy chief, that he was equally befuddled, and concerned. Predictably, Castro denied any responsibility. But it wasn’t the indignant, how-dare-you-accuse-us response the U.S. had come to expect from Cuba’s leaders.
The Cubans even offered to let the FBI come down to Havana to investigate. U.S.-Cuban cooperation on law enforcement has increased some since the detente in 2015. Even so, the new access was extraordinary.
“Some countries don’t want any more FBI agents in their country than they have to — and that number could be zero,” said Leo Taddeo, a retired FBI supervisor who served abroad.
Cuba, Taddeo said, is normally in that group.
The list of confirmed American victims was much shorter on Feb. 17, when the U.S. first complained to Cuba. Today, the number of “medically confirmed” cases stands at 21 — plus several Canadians. Some Americans have permanent hearing loss or mild brain injury, incidents that have frightened Havana’s tight-knit diplomatic community.
At least one other nation, France, has tested embassy staff for potential sonic-induced injuries.