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US reopens visa, consular services at Cuban embassy for first time since ‘Havana Syndrome’ incidents

The U.S. Embassy in Cuba has resumed offering visa and consular services Wednesday for the first time in five years following a series of unexplained health incidents tied to an illness dubbed the “Havana Syndrome.” 

The embassy confirmed this week it will begin processing immigrant visas, with a priority placed on permits to reunite Cubans with family in the U.S., and others like the diversity visa lottery. 

The resumption comes amid the greatest migratory flight from Cuba in decades, which has placed pressure on the Biden administration to open more legal pathways to Cubans and start a dialogue with the Cuban government, despite a historically tense relationship. 

In late December, U.S. authorities reported stopping Cubans 34,675 times along the Mexico border in November, up 21% from 28,848 times in October. 

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Visa and consular services were closed on the island in 2017 after embassy staff were afflicted in a series of health incidents, alleged sonic attacks that remain largely unexplained. 

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The FBI in 2021 called the illness, dubbed the “Havana Syndrome,” a “top priority” as around 200 U.S. diplomats, officials and family members overseas have suffered from the series of “anomalous health incidents.”

A government-commissioned report released by the National Academies of Sciences in 2020, said the illness is “most likely” the result of direct microwave radiation. 

The working theory, established by a committee of 19 experts in medical and related fields, pinpointed “directed, pulsed radio frequency energy” as “the most plausible mechanism” to have triggered the wave of maladies. 

Fox News’ Peter Aitken and Hollie McKay and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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