11:06 GMT30 March 2020
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    Washington evacuated all non-essential personnel from its Cuban Embassy in 2017 after dozens of staffers suffered various symptoms ranging from headaches and nausea to short-term amnesia, after they reportedly started hearing high-pitched noises.

    The scandal around alleged "sonic attacks" on US Embassy employees in Cuba continues to affect not only bilateral relations between the countries, but also the lives of ordinary citizens, The Guardian reported.

    READ MORE: State Dept: US Diplomats in Cuba Getting Medical Exams Following Sonic Attack

    According to Claudia Laguna, an owner of a rental business in Havana interviewed by the newspaper, the number of US citizens arriving in Cuba has declined sharply following the scandal, even during the peak season. Laguna said that she now struggles to keep the business afloat. According to The Guardian, around 33% less American tourists arrived by plane to the insular state this year.

    If that was not enough, ordinary Cubans are now having a hard time receiving US visas and thus an opportunity to reunite with their relatives living in the US. After the non-essential staff from the American Embassy was evacuated, the acquisition of US visas is now possible only in Guyana. As The Guardian points out, the trip to Guyana is something most Cubans can't afford.

    According to former Cuban diplomat Carlos Alzugaray, interviewed by the media outlet, the only two groups that benefited from the scandal were hardliners in both countries.

    "This is a gift to them", Alzugaray said.

    At the same time, several Cuban foreign ministry officials, questioned by The Guardian, denied the allegations that Havana was behind the incident. One of them called the scandal a "deliberate political manipulation", while another branded it "a feint" by the US.

    READ MORE: US Suspects Russia in Sonic Attacks on Diplomats in Cuba, China — Reports

    Washington accused Cuba of performing "attacks" against its embassy staffers with an unknown weapon; with theories regarding it ranging from sonic weapona to a viral attack. At the same time, the US presented no evidence, proving Havana was behind the incident and so far the exact reason for the embassy employees' symptoms remains unknown.

    READ MORE: US State Dept. Warns Americans About Possible Sonic Attacks in Cuba

    Havana has denied Washington's accusations and labelled them "science fiction". Cuba's investigators also attempted to determine the origin of "sonic attacks", which affected not only the US, but also the Canadian Embassy, so far without any success.


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    sonic attacks, embassy, scandal, bilateral relations, United States, Cuba
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