Statement on Attacks on U.S. Diplomatic Personnel in Cuba

For Immediate Release
September 1, 2017
Contact: Director of Communications Ásgeir Sigfússon,

Washington, D.C. – The American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), the professional association and labor union of the United States Foreign Service, is concerned about “sonic harassment” attacks reported against U.S. diplomatic personnel and their families at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba. This week, AFSA representatives met and spoke with ten members of the Foreign Service who experienced damage to their health as a result of these attacks. Diagnoses include mild traumatic brain injury and permanent hearing loss, with such additional symptoms as loss of balance, severe headaches, cognitive disruption, and brain swelling.

This latest attack is regrettably only the latest example of the many threats facing members of the Foreign Service as they serve their country abroad. As the 248 names inscribed on AFSA’s memorial walls attest, it is by no means rare for diplomats and development professionals to pay for their service with their lives. Many others suffered impaired health as a result of serving our country abroad.

AFSA strongly encourages the Department of State and the U.S. Government to do everything possible to provide appropriate care for those affected, and to work to ensure that these incidents cease and are not repeated.

AFSA, the voice of the Foreign Service, is the professional association and labor union of the U.S. Foreign Service. Founded in 1924, AFSA represents 31,000 active and retired Foreign Service employees at the Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development, Foreign Commercial Service, Foreign Agricultural Service, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.