Following Mysterious Attacks, United States Suspends Visas for Cubans, Withdraws Most Staff From Havana Embassy, Issues Cuba Travel Warning

Following still-unexplained attacks on U.S. personnel of the embassy in Havana, Cuba, that left some with severe health problems, the United States has suspended visa issuance in Cuba for all Cubans and ordered the departure of more than half of its staff from the embassy, along with their family members. The Department of State has also issued a travel warning advising U.S. citizens not to travel to Cuba.

The Department explained that at least 21 U.S. embassy employees have been targeted in attacks of unknown origin, resulting in significant injuries, including ear complaints, hearing loss, dizziness, tinnitus, balance problems, visual complaints, headache, fatigue, cognitive issues, and difficulty sleeping.

The Department said it is "looking at the possibility of [Cubans] being able to apply for visas at embassies or consulates outside of Cuba in other countries. But we haven’t actually made definitive arrangements yet. We’re continuing to look at that. But all of the kind of regular visas or ordinary visas would not be issued through Havana."

The travel warning notes that the attacks have occurred in U.S. diplomatic residences and hotels frequented by U.S. citizens. The travel warning also notes that due to the drawdown in staff, the U.S. embassy in Havana has limited ability to assist U.S. citizens. The embassy will provide only emergency services to U.S. citizens. The warning states that U.S. citizens in Cuba in need of emergency assistance should contact the embassy by telephone at +(53)(7) 839-4100 or the Department of State at 1-202-501-4444. U.S. citizens should not attempt to go to the U.S. embassy because it suffered severe flood damage during Hurricane Irma, the warning states.

A transcript of a related press briefing via teleconference on September 29, 2017, is at https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2017/09/274518.htm. The Cuba travel warning is at https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/alertswarnings/cuba-travel-warning.html. The U.S. embassy in Havana's website is at https://cu.usembassy.gov/.