Using Fear to Strike at Cuban Tourism

The mysterious case of the alleged “acoustic attacks” against US diplomatic personnel in Cuba turns out to have been a media maneuver aimed at damaging tourism in terms of as part of the blockade against the island.

One of Cuba’s greatest attractions for foreign tourism is the guarantee of security offered by the island to visitors from any part of the world. Another is the high level of public health in Cuba, one of the highest in the Western Hemisphere with health indicators comparable to those of the most developed nations.

In addition to the exceptional conditions with which the island has been endowed by nature, the popular revolution of 1959 has incorporated the dsocial conditions of peace and harmony that the visitor appreciates from the first moment of their stay in Cuba.

More than half a century of possessive paranoia, aggravated by the economic, commercial and financial blockade, have not been able to counteract the enormous achievements of socialism, even if they have postponed or limited many revolutionary economic and social advances in the country.

Basque journalist José Manzaneda, coordinator of the Cubainformación website, a channel that broadcasts news, reports and commentaries on the island from Spain, has denounced the media’s objective against Cuba over the campaign of alleged sonic attacks.

Manzaneda remembers that it was the Argentine newspaper “Clarín”, among many other media, who published a report two years ago from the Associated Press. Its focus was on an American traveler who felt “a sudden loss of feeling in his four extremities, in the same hotel where some affected diplomats were staying.”

Then there’s the growing interest among students, the sector of American visitors that has grown the most in Cuba –118% in the first half of the year– given that conventional tourism is still prohibited by the US blockade, Diario de Cuba, half-financed by the governments of the United States and Spain, wrote: “There are signs that students and retirees (from the U.S.) plan to cancel their trips to the island”, since neither “Washington nor Havana have been able to prevent the attacks, which could generate an uncontrollable crisis”.

El Nuevo Herald, a mouthpiece for the extreme right-wing Cubans in Miami, assured its readers that Raúl Castro is turning a diplomatic crisis into an economic, potentially destabilizing one.

Agencies and media collaborated in this way with the objective of the White House that came to life on September 29. That was when, recognizing that ti was “not aware” of the origin of the supposed acoustic attacks, it officially recommended not traveling to the island.

“Coming from the government of a country where every year 30,000 people die by firearms, more than a thousand by police, and 31% of the world’s mass shootings are recorded, this alarm seems like a joke in bad taste,” says Manzaneda.

The extreme-right of Cuban origin of the Republican party, which, in exchange for its vote on other matters, already manages Donald Trump’a Cuba policy. It seeks to reverse the growth experienced through the trips of Americans to the island and damage the income from them which it brings to the Cuban economy.

In line with this campaign, the conservative Washington Examiner asked the House of Representatives to demand that Cuba “evaluate security at its ten international airports.” This is an inadmissible interference that seeks to reduce the number of visitors from the US, in this case by canceling the regular flights authorized by the Obama administration.

However, RESPECT, the largest US association of travel promoters in Cuba, rejected –as unnecessary and counterproductive– the “security warning” issued by the State Department, arguing that Cuba is a “safe destination.”

The Spanish newspaper El País followed with an interview with Thomas Shannon, US Undersecretary of State. He held Cuba responsible for everything that had happened, but without clarifying what he was referring to, and without contributing any element to such an unusual story. Republican Senator Marco Rubio, Donald Trump’s current spoiled scion, seems to be, according to analysts, the one who is behind the nefarious campaign about “sonic attacks” in Cuba.

Everything indicates that, now, the tactic chosen by the right, at the service of imperialism, is to generate fear more than to legislate against Cuba. This is because, since for the former they have the concurrence –conscious or unconscious– of powerful international agencies and media, so much so that, for the second, they run the risk of increasing the division in the Republican ranks in Congress.

Let it be known then that all this diabolical mischief of sonic attacks is nothing more than another element of the blockade against Cuba that this past November 1, was condemned almost unanimously by the world community in the UN for the 26th consecutive year.

Manuel E. Yepe is a lawyer, economist and journalist. He is a professor at the Higher Institute of International Relations in Havana.