BURLINGTON, Vt. - The United States began pulling its diplomats out of Cuba Friday and is asking Americans to avoid non-essential travel there. This comes amid a string of what the State Department is calling 'mysterious' attacks on US embassy workers. Officials say the injuries range from hearing loss, dizziness and cognitive issues.
"We're still trying to figure out how it happened, but also the question remains who is doing it,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D- Vermont.
The senator has his suspicions, he believes 'someone or some government' is trying to reverse the normalization process between the US and Cuba.
Leahy said, "There are countries that would be delighted to have us out there, Russia and China among others."
The State Department is also encouraging Americans to avoid non-essential travel to Cuba.
The news didn't come as a surprise to some, including Jared Carter. He's the director of Burlington's Cuban American Friendship Society, a non-profit that leads humanitarian trips to Cuba.
"I don't think this is un-chartered territory, I think the Cubans are used to this, but certainly the message that goes out is that our diplomats are not safe in Cuba and American citizens react to that,” explained Carter.
While Carter respects the State Department and its duties, he hopes this doesn't have a long-term impact.
Carter said, "We've got to keep moving forward, American citizens should still go to Cuba and experience Cuba legally and they still can."
Leahy has been a strong proponent of strengthening the relationship, he says the Cubans have been cooperative. According to Leahy, the goal is to get the diplomats back to work as soon as possible.
"We spent over 50 years to stop this aspect of the cold war and they're eager to stay, they're professionals and this is assignment that they find exciting," said Leahy.
Leahy will be receiving a ‘highly classified’ briefing by the State Department when returns to Washington on Monday.
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