The relations between the United States and Cuba have been tumultuous, to say the least, for the better part of 50 years. Since Castro took control of the country in 1961, the two nations have had little real interaction. Finally, in 2015, after many years of embargo and limited relations, the gates to Cuba were opened. There is more of a formal relationship now than there has ever been. There are tourists traveling to Cuba and diplomats and American officials working there as well.
As with any diplomatic relationship, though, there are going to be trials that will test that relationship and help forge bonds amongst the nations. The ability of the two nations to negotiate these difficult issues creates the trust and loyalty required for great diplomatic relations. The U.S.-Cuba relationship is being put to the test because of two very different occurrences; one on the ground and one in the media.
Over the last few months, stories and reports have surfaced that are testing the newly forged relationship with the Caribbean island nation. Elian Gonzalez and mysterious sonic “incidents” are creating the necessity for the two nations to communicate and work together.
Mysterious Happenings in Havana
It has been confirmed by U.S. officials that more than 10 U.S. officials and staffers in Cuba have been exposed to and affected by sonic waves while working in Havana. The first of this string of incidents was recorded as occurring in December of 2016. As reported by ABC News, these incidents seem to be targeting U.S. staff in particular. It was also said that Cuban officials are in complete cooperation with the ongoing investigation.
The affected people were said to be exposed to sonic waves that were either above or below the waves that are audible to the human ear. It is scientifically known that exposure to waves such as this can cause physical symptoms and permanent damage to the human body. Symptoms such as headaches, nausea, balance and walking complications, and vision problems are being reported by the staff that was affected.
“We have not seen this type of activity take place before,” State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert reported. She goes on to further communicate that the medical needs of everyone affected are being met to the best of the government’s ability. Cuba and the United States are currently investigating what is going on in Havana.
This is not the only Cuba-U.S. story in the news right now.
Elian Gonzalez made world news in 1999. At the time, Elian was just six years old when he was found floating on an inner tube just off the coast Florida. His mother had died during their treacherous ocean passage from Cuba to Florida. Shortly after he was found, his mother’s family that lived in south Florida took custody of Elian. An international child custody case ensued when Elian’s father fought for custody of his son.
He claimed his ex-wife had kidnapped Elian and fled the country with him. Eventually, the U.S. Courts ruled in his father’s favor, and he was sent back to Cuba. Elian was removed from the custody of his aunt and uncle by armed U.S. Marshals and returned to his father.
Seventeen years later, the story and what has happened to Elian after all this is being revisited in a special on CNN on Thursday night. The special will explore Elian’s rise as a political symbol and hero for his native Cubans after his return to Cuba in 1999. He has become a symbol for his generation in support of the Cuban Revolution.
The United States and Cuba relationship is on display for all to see right now. These different occurrences will show to what degree the two nations can work together to solve common issues and international misconceptions.
[Featured Image by Jorge Rey/Newsmakers/Getty Images]