United States Reduces the Alert Level for Travel to Cuba

The US embassy in Havana continues to staff at minimum levels after the evacuation of its non-essential personnel. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana | 23 August 2018 – The United States on Thursday reduced the alert level for travel to Cuba, a surprise decision after relations between both countries were frozen after the mysterious “sonic attacks” suffered by 26 US diplomats in Havana, reports the Nuevo Herald.

Cuba is now found in category 2, which recommends exercising caution due to attacks directed against employees of the US embassy in Havana. At the end of September, the State Department had placed the island in category 3, recommending that Americans “reconsider” a trip to the Greater of the Antilles.

After the departure of 60% of the US diplomatic personnel deployed in Cuba and the reduction in the services of the embassy, relations between Washington and Havana deteriorated rapidly. The United States accuses the island of knowing who is behind the alleged attack on 26 of its diplomats, while Cuban authorities say it is a pretext to derail the process of reestablishing relations undertaken under the previous administration.

The Cuban economy has been affected in the past year by the fall in the number of tourists visiting the country, which dropped by 5.67% according to official figures. President Donald Trump in June of last year toughened the conditions for Americans visiting the neighboring country, so that their travel to Cuba fell by 23.6%.

The Havana Consulting Group, a company specializing in analyzing the Cuban economy, considers that the first half of 2018 has been “traumatic and devastating” for the Cuban tourist industry due to the combination of “countless accumulated unresolved problems,” among them the low influx of tourists from the USA.

According to Orna Blum, spokeswoman for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs of the US State Department, the change to level 2 was due to a new assessment of the risk of traveling to Cuba.

“The Department conducted a comprehensive risk assessment for US private citizen travelers in Cuba and decided that a Level 2 travel alert was appropriate,” the spokeswoman told the Nuevo Herald.

The United States reiterated that it does not yet know the weapon used to harm its officials or what country or group is behind the alleged attacks.

Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria


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