Embassy of the United States, Havana

Last updated

Embassy of the United States, Havana
Native name
Spanish: Embajada de los Estados Unidos de América La Habana
Seal of an Embassy of the United States of America.svg
U.S. Flag Flaps Outside U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba (25998479275).jpg
Chancery Building as seen during President Barack Obama's visit to Cuba. This used to be the US Interests Section of the Embassy of Switzerland in Havana, Cuba. Between 1977 and 2015, Switzerland was the protecting power of the United States in Cuba.
Location Havana, Cuba
Coordinates 23°08′45″N82°23′16″W / 23.14587°N 82.38765°W / 23.14587; -82.38765 Coordinates: 23°08′45″N82°23′16″W / 23.14587°N 82.38765°W / 23.14587; -82.38765
EmbassyMarch 1953 – January 3, 1961;
July 20, 2015 – present
Interests SectionSeptember 1, 1977 – July 20, 2015 [note 1]
Chargé d'affaires ad interimMara Tekach
Cuba location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location of Embassy of the United States, Havana in Cuba

The Embassy of the United States of America in Havana is the United States of America's diplomatic mission in Cuba. On January 3, 1961, US President Dwight D. Eisenhower severed relations following the Cuban Revolution of the 1950s. [1] In 1977, President Jimmy Carter and President Fidel Castro signed an Interests Sections Agreement that permitted each government to operate out of its former embassy in Havana and Washington D.C., which were called Interests Sections; they were prohibited from flying their respective flags. Cuban President Raúl Castro and US President Barack Obama restored full diplomatic connections on July 20, 2015. [2] [3] [4]

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Diplomatic mission group of people from one state present in another state to represent the sending state

A diplomatic mission or foreign mission is a group of people from one state or an organisation present in another state to represent the sending state/organisation officially in the receiving state. In practice, the phrase diplomatic mission usually denotes the resident mission, namely the embassy, which is the main office of a country's diplomatic representatives to another country; this is usually, but not necessarily, in the receiving state's capital city. Consulates, on the other hand, are smaller diplomatic missions which are normally located in major cities of the receiving state. As well as being a diplomatic mission to the country in which it is situated, it may also be a non-resident permanent mission to one or more other countries. There are thus resident and non-resident embassies.

Cuba Country in the Caribbean

Cuba, officially the Republic of Cuba, is a country comprising the island of Cuba as well as Isla de la Juventud and several minor archipelagos. Cuba is located in the northern Caribbean where the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean meet. It is east of the Yucatán Peninsula (Mexico), south of both the U.S. state of Florida and the Bahamas, west of Haiti and north of both Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. Havana is the largest city and capital; other major cities include Santiago de Cuba and Camagüey. The area of the Republic of Cuba is 110,860 square kilometers (42,800 sq mi). The island of Cuba is the largest island in Cuba and in the Caribbean, with an area of 105,006 square kilometers (40,543 sq mi), and the second-most populous after Hispaniola, with over 11 million inhabitants.


The building housed the United States Interests Section in Havana between 1977 and 2015, which operated under the auspices of the Swiss Embassy (acting as protecting power). On July 1, 2015 it was announced that with the resumption of diplomatic ties, the building resumed its role as the U.S. Embassy in Cuba on July 20, 2015. [5] [6] [7] [8]

United States Interests Section in Havana

The United States Interests Section of the Embassy of Switzerland in Havana, Cuba or USINT Havana represented United States interests in Cuba from September 1, 1977, to July 20, 2015. It was staffed by United States Foreign Service personnel and local staff employed by the US Department of State, and located in a multi-story office building on the Malecón across from the Plaza de la Revolución in Havana. The mission resumed its role as the Embassy of the United States in Cuba on July 20, 2015, following the normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The foreign relations of Switzerland are the primary responsibility of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA). Some international relations of Switzerland are handled by other departments of the federal administration of Switzerland.

Protecting power

A protecting power is a country that represents another sovereign state in a country where it lacks its own diplomatic representation. It is common for protecting powers to be appointed when two countries break off diplomatic relations with each other. The protecting power is responsible for looking after the sending state's diplomatic property and citizens in the hosting state. If diplomatic relations were broken by the outbreak of war, the protecting power will also inquire into the welfare of prisoners of war and look after the interests of civilians in enemy-occupied territory.

After the allegations of sonic attacks surfaced in 2017, United States withdrew most of the personnel from the embassy, so by July 2018 only 10 American diplomats were left to maintain the diplomatic service. [9] The embassy is led by Chargé d'affaires ad interim Ambassador Mara Tekach. [10] [11]

<i>Chargé daffaires</i> head of diplomatic mission when no higher official exists

A chargé d'affaires, often shortened to chargé (French) and sometimes to charge-D, is a diplomat who heads an embassy in the absence of the ambassador. The term is French for "charged with matters". A female diplomat may be designated a chargée d'affaires, following French declension.

The Latin phrase ad interim means "in the meantime" or "temporarily".

Ambassador diplomatic envoy

An ambassador is an official envoy, especially a high-ranking diplomat who represents a state and is usually accredited to another sovereign state or to an international organization as the resident representative of their own government or sovereign or appointed for a special and often temporary diplomatic assignment. The word is also often used more liberally for persons who are known, without national appointment, to represent certain professions, activities and fields of endeavor such as sales.


Embassy on the Malecon in the distance beyond the Jose Marti Anti-Imperialist Platform, ca. 1973. Havanna 1973 buidling of the former US embassy.jpg
Embassy on the Malecón in the distance beyond the José Martí Anti-Imperialist Platform, ca. 1973.

The current embassy was designed in the ModernistBrutalist style by the architectural firm Harrison & Abramovitz. It is a long and six-story concrete and glass building, completed in 1953. The gardens were designed by Californian landscape architect Thomas Dolliver Church. The contractor for the building was Jaime Alberto Mitrani, PE, also a professor of civil engineering at the University of Havana. The embassy complex is located directly on the Malecón and the José Martí Anti-Imperialist Platform, in proximity to the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Modern architecture broad type of architecture

Modern architecture, or modernist architecture was based upon new and innovative technologies of construction, particularly the use of glass, steel and reinforced concrete; the idea that form should follow function; an embrace of minimalism; and a rejection of ornament. It emerged in the first half of the 20th century and became dominant after World War II until the 1980s, when it was gradually replaced as the principal style for institutional and corporate buildings by postmodern architecture.

Brutalist architecture style of architecture

Brutalist architecture, or Brutalism, is an architectural style which emerged in the mid-20th century and gained popularity in the late 1950s and 1960s. It descended from the modernist architectural movement of the late 19th century and of the first half of 20th century. It is characterized by simple, block-like structures that often feature bare building materials. Exposed concrete is favored in construction, however some examples are primarily made of brick. Though beginning in Europe, Brutalist architecture can now be found around the world. The style has been most commonly used in the design of institutional buildings such as libraries, courts, public housing and city halls.

Harrison & Abramovitz was an American architectural firm based in New York and active from 1941 through 1976, a partnership of Wallace Harrison and Max Abramovitz.

After the U.S. diplomatic mission became defunct in 1961, the building was not used by American personnel until the opening of the interests section on September 1, 1977. [12] In 1963, Prime Minister of Cuba Fidel Castro ordered the confiscation of the complex, but action was never taken by the Cuban government, though it still claimed right to the property in 2012. [13]

Prime Minister of Cuba head of the Council of Ministers of Cuba

The Prime Minister of Cuba, known as the President of the Council of Ministers between 1976 and 2019, is the head of the Council of Ministers of Cuba.

Fidel Castro Former First Secretary of the Communist Party and President of Cuba

Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz was a Cuban communist revolutionary and politician who governed the Republic of Cuba as Prime Minister from 1959 to 1976 and then as President from 1976 to 2008. A Marxist–Leninist and Cuban nationalist, Castro also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from 1961 until 2011. Under his administration, Cuba became a one-party communist state, while industry and business were nationalized and state socialist reforms were implemented throughout society.

Cuba has had a communist political system since 1959 based on the "one state – one party" principle. Cuba is constitutionally defined as a Marxist–Leninist socialist state guided by the political ideas of Karl Marx, one of the fathers of historical materialism, Friedrich Engels and Vladimir Lenin. The present Constitution also ascribes the role of the Communist Party of Cuba to be the "leading force of society and of the state" and as such has the capability of setting national policy. The most recent leader was Raúl Castro, who held the title of First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba. As of 2018 Miguel Díaz-Canel is now the president of Cuba.

During the period that the complex served as an interests section, the U.S. was represented by Switzerland, and the Swiss maintained both the embassy complex and its effects. Renovations were completed on the complex in 1997.

Switzerland federal republic in Central Europe

Switzerland, officially the Swiss Confederation, is a sovereign state situated in the confluence of western, central, and southern Europe. It is a federal republic composed of 26 cantons, with federal authorities seated in Bern. Switzerland is a landlocked country bordered by Italy to the south, France to the west, Germany to the north, and Austria and Liechtenstein to the east. It is geographically divided between the Alps, the Swiss Plateau and the Jura, spanning a total area of 41,285 km2 (15,940 sq mi). While the Alps occupy the greater part of the territory, the Swiss population of approximately 8.5 million is concentrated mostly on the plateau, where the largest cities are located, among them the two global cities and economic centres of Zürich and Geneva.

The building was upgraded from an interests section and returned to its original role as the United States Embassy in Cuba, on July 20, 2015. [5] [6] [7] [14] On August 14, 2015, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry officially reopened it; eight congressional lawmakers involved in the policy change attended, [15] [16] [17] and the three Marines (Larry C. Morris, Mike East and Jim Tracy) who had lowered the U.S. flag at the embassy 54 years earlier presented a new flag, which was then raised by Marines assigned to the post. [18]

In August 2017, reports began surfacing that Americans posted at the embassy had been subjected to health-related incidents, dating back to late 2016. [19] [20] Two dozen employees of the State Department reported experiencing what were referred to as "health attacks". [20] The State Department determined that the health problems may have been the result of an attack or else exposure to an as-yet-unknown device, [21] and did not believe the Cuban government is responsible. [22] Affected individuals described mild brain damage similar to a concussion and symptoms such as temporary or permanent hearing loss, memory loss, and nausea. [21] Speculation has centered around a sonic or ultrasonic weapon, [23] however the scientific consensus is that the use of a sonic weapon is implausible. [24] [25] Dr. Timothy Leighton has said "If you’re talking about a ray-gun rifle knocking out someone with ultrasound they can’t hear at a hundred meters — that’s not going to happen". [26]

The United States expelled two Cuban diplomats in response to the attacks; [19] the Cuban government offered to cooperate with the US in an investigation of the incidents. [27] In September, the US State Department stated that it was removing non-emergency staff from the US embassy, and warned US citizens not to travel to Cuba. [28] In October 2017, the Associated Press released what it claimed was a recording of the sound some embassy workers heard during the attacks. [29] However, senior neurologists consulted by The Guardian suggested that the health incidents were probably psychosomatic complaints, of the kind commonly known as mass hysteria. [30] In December 2017, investigators discovered abnormalities in the victims' brains. The white matter of the brains showed physical changes which doctors believe could not have been caused by sound. They are now avoiding the term "sonic" to describe the attacks and there is growing skepticism it was caused by a sonic device; rather, it's possible that the sound heard by victims was a by-product of the brain damage. [31] In a 2018 paper published in JAMA, a team of medical researchers at the University of Pennsylvania all but ruled out a sonic weapon and said they could not find the source of the ailments experienced by the embassy staff. They said that the report by the Associated Press claiming researchers had found damage to white matter in the brains of the patients was wrong and that there was no such damage. [32] In January 2019 a study of a recording of the sound heard by embassy staff was released by Alexander Stubbs, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, and Fernando Montealegre-Zapata, a professor of sensory biology at the University of Lincoln. The study found that the sound matched the mating song of the Indies short-tailed cricket found around the Caribbean. The researchers did not examine the cause of the diplomats’ ailments and did not rule out a sonic attack “at another point”. [33]

James Lewis, a former State Department official and intelligence expert, stated: "We know with 100% certainly that the embassies are under surveillance, and the technology being used could just be crude and over-powered"; he noted that health problems at the US embassy in Moscow in the 1970s were thought to be linked to the use of microwave surveillance devices. [34]

See also


  1. The U.S. and Cuba did not have bilateral diplomatic relations between 1961 and 2015. During this period, the U.S. diplomatic mission in Cuba operated under the auspices of the Embassy of Switzerland.

Related Research Articles

Sonic weapon A weapon that uses soundwaves to discomfort, capacitate or kill opponents.

Sonic and ultrasonic weapons (USW) are weapons of various types that use sound to injure, incapacitate, or kill an opponent. Some sonic weapons are currently in limited use or in research and development by military and police forces. Some of these weapons have been described as sonic bullets, sonic grenades, sonic mines, or sonic cannons. Some make a focused beam of sound or ultrasound; some make an area field of sound.

Interests Section of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the United States

The Interests Section of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the United States is a part of the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, D.C., and is the de facto consular representation of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the United States.

Cuba–United States relations Bilateral relations

Cuba–United States relations are bilateral relations between Cuba and the United States. Cuba and the United States restored diplomatic relations on 20 July 2015, relations which had been severed in 1961 during the Cold War. U.S. diplomatic representation in Cuba is handled by the United States Embassy in Havana, and there is a similar Cuban Embassy in Washington, D.C. The United States, however, continues to maintain its commercial, economic, and financial embargo, making it illegal for U.S. corporations to do business with Cuba.

Philip Wilson Bonsal was a career diplomat with the U.S. Department of State. A specialist in Latin American affairs, he served as United States Ambassador to Cuba from February 1959 until October 1960, the first months of the Castro regime.

Lyle Franklin Lane American diplomat

Lyle Franklin Lane was a United States Diplomat.

Somalia–United States relations Diplomatic relations between the Federal Republic of Somalia and the United States of America

Somalia–United States relations are bilateral relations between the Federal Republic of Somalia and the United States of America. Somalia has an embassy in Washington, D.C. while the United States is represented by a special diplomatic mission based at its embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, due to the security situation in Somalia.

Embassy of Cuba in Washington, D.C.

The Cuban Embassy in Washington, DC, is the diplomatic mission of Cuba to the United States of America. It is located at 2630 16th Street Northwest, in the Adams Morgan neighborhood. The building was originally constructed in 1917 as the Cuban embassy, and served in that capacity until the United States severed relations with Cuba in 1961. On July 1, 2015, US President Barack Obama announced the formal restoration of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba. The building resumed its role as the Cuban Embassy on July 20, 2015.

Embassy of the United States, Tehran former United States Embassy

The Embassy of the United States of America in Tehran was the United States of America's diplomatic mission in the Imperial State of Iran. Direct bilateral diplomatic relations between the two governments were severed following the Iranian Revolution in 1979, and the subsequent seizure of the embassy in November 1979.

Embassy of the United States, Islamabad

The Embassy of the United States in Islamabad is the diplomatic mission of the United States in Pakistan. Ambassador David Hale is currently the United States Ambassador to Pakistan, as of November 2015.

Cuban thaw

The Cuban thaw was a warming of Cuba–United States relations that began in December 2014 ending a 54-year stretch of hostility between the nations. In March 2016, Barack Obama became the first U.S. President to visit Cuba since 1928.

Embassy of the United States, Mogadishu building in Somalia

The Embassy of the United States of America to Somalia is a diplomatic mission of the United States in Mogadishu, Somalia from 1960 to 1991. In 1957, the US opened a consulate-general in Mogadishu—the capital of the Trust Territory of Somalia, a UN trusteeship under Italian administration. The consulate was upgraded to embassy status in July 1960, when the US recognized Somalia's independence and appointed an ambassador. The embassy served to counter Soviet influence during the Cold War and also served as a base for the United States Agency for International Development, which had a large presence in the country. In 1989, the embassy moved from a dilapidated building in central Mogadishu to a new compound on the outskirts of the city.

Embassy of the United States, Nairobi building in Kenya

The Embassy of the United States of America to Kenya, located in Nairobi, is home to the diplomatic mission of the United States to the Republic of Kenya. The embassy opened in central Nairobi on 2 March 1964, when the United States established diplomatic relations with Kenya. In 1998, the original embassy was the target of a terrorist attack, after which a new embassy building was constructed in Gigiri, a suburb of Nairobi, in 2003. The US diplomatic mission to Somalia is also based at the Nairobi embassy.

Jeffrey DeLaurentis American diplomat

Jeffrey DeLaurentis is an American diplomat and was the Chargé d'affaires ad interim of the Embassy of the United States, Havana from 2015-2017. DeLaurentis has ambassadorial rank in the State Department because his prior position at the UN was a US Senate-confirmed ambassadorial position. Cuba and the United States formally restored diplomatic relations on July 20, 2015, after having severed diplomatic ties in 1961 amid the Cold War.

Josefina de la Caridad Vidal Ferreiro is a Cuban diplomat, and has been director general of the U.S. Division in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 2013.

Havana syndrome Purported acoustic attacks on US embassy staff

"Havana Syndrome" is the name popularized by the media in 2018 for purported acoustic attacks on United States and Canadian embassy staff, first reported in Cuba, and then in China. Beginning in August 2017, reports surfaced that American and Canadian diplomatic personnel in Cuba had suffered a variety of health problems, dating back to late 2016, and accusations were made that these were a result of attacks using unspecified technology, possibly acoustic in nature.

Moscow Signal microwave radiation incident

The Moscow Signal was a reported microwave transmission, varying between 2.5–4 gigahertz, directed at the Embassy of the United States, Moscow from 1953–1976, resulting in an international incident. The US government eventually determined it was probably an attempt at espionage, and that the concerning health effects on embassy staff were incidental.


  1. United States severs diplomatic relations with Cuba Archived July 4, 2014, at the Wayback Machine History.
  2. "Obama moves to restored diplomatic relations at the embassy level on 2014. with Cuba". MSNBC. December 17, 2014. Archived from the original on July 1, 2015.
  3. "Obama opens doors to Cuba after 56 years". USA Today . December 17, 2014. Archived from the original on June 6, 2015.
  4. "U.S., Cuba restore ties after 50 years". Reuters. December 18, 2014. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015.
  5. 1 2 "U.S. and Cuba to announce embassy openings". CNN. June 30, 2015. Archived from the original on July 1, 2015.
  6. 1 2 "U.S. and Cuba to reopen embassies". Politico. June 30, 2015. Archived from the original on July 2, 2015.
  7. 1 2 "US proposes US, Cuba reopen embassies as of July 20: Havana". Business Insider. July 1, 2015.
  8. "Cuban flag flies at embassy in Washington". USA Today . July 20, 2015. Archived from the original on July 22, 2015.
  9. Delk, Josh (April 7, 2018). "Only 10 diplomatic staff left at US Embassy in Cuba". TheHill. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
  10. "Chargé d'Affaires - U.S. Embassy in Cuba".
  11. "Re-establishment of Diplomatic Relations Between the United States and Cuba" (PDF). United States Department of State. July 20, 2015. Archived (PDF) from the original on February 25, 2017.
  12. Talking to the Bearded Man: The Swiss Mandate to Represent U.S. Interests in Cuba, 1961–1977. Archived July 29, 2014, at the Wayback Machine Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies.
  13. Havana's New York Accent. Archived August 10, 2014, at the Wayback Machine New York Times.
  14. "U.S. and Cuba Reopen Long-Closed Embassies". New York Times . July 20, 2015. Archived from the original on July 20, 2015.
  15. Weissenstein, Michael; Klapper, Bradley (August 14, 2015). "John Kerry in Cuba as flag raised over U.S. Embassy". Global News. Archived from the original on August 15, 2015.
  16. Labott, Elise (August 14, 2015). "Kerry to reopen embassy in Cuba but tensions remain". CNN. CNN. Archived from the original on August 17, 2015.
  17. Karoun Demirjian (August 14, 2015). "Cuba congressional delegation: Who traveled with John Kerry to Havana". Washington Post. Archived from the original on August 15, 2015.
  18. Gordon, Michael (August 14, 2015). "Kerry Strikes Delicate Balance in Havana Trip for Embassy Flag-Raising". New York Times. Archived from the original on August 14, 2015. Retrieved August 15, 2015.
  19. 1 2 Neuman, Scott (August 9, 2017). "Cuban Diplomats Expelled After U.S. Embassy Staff 'Incidents' In Havana". NPR. Retrieved October 1, 2017.
  20. 1 2 Connor, Tracy; Murray, Mary; Williams, Abigail (September 17, 2017). "Victim of Cuba embassy 'attacks' frustrated by response". NBC News. Retrieved October 1, 2017.
  21. 1 2 Doubek, James. "At Least 16 U.S. Embassy Staff In Cuba Treated After 'Health Attacks'". NPR.
  22. U.S. does not believe Cuba is behind sonic attacks on American diplomats. McClatchy News Service, 26 September 2017
  23. Chavez, Nicole. "Using sound to attack: The diverse world of acoustic devices". CNN.
  24. Zimmer, Carl (October 6, 2017). "What's a Science Reporter to Do When Sound Evidence Isn't Sound?". nytimes.com. Archived from the original on October 13, 2017. Retrieved October 13, 2017.
  25. Coady, David (October 13, 2017). "Revealed: The mysterious sound heard by US diplomatic staff in Cuba". abc.net.au. Retrieved October 13, 2017.
  26. Zimmer, Carl (October 5, 2017). "A 'Sonic Attack' on Diplomats in Cuba? These Scientists Doubt It". nytimes.com. Archived from the original on October 13, 2017. Retrieved October 13, 2017.
  27. "Statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba%7cCubaMINREX".
  28. Rich Edson (September 29, 2017). "US stops issuing visas in Cuba, cuts embassy staff, urges no travel to island". Fox News. Retrieved October 1, 2017.
  29. "Dangerous sound? What Americans heard in Cuba attacks". AP News. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  30. Julian Borger and Philip Jaekl (October 12, 2017). "Mass hysteria may explain 'sonic attacks' in Cuba, say top neurologists". The Guardian. Retrieved October 14, 2017.
  31. Josh Lederman (December 6, 2017). "Doctors find brain abnormalities in victims of Cuba mystery". AP News . Associated Press. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
  32. Yirka, Bob (February 28, 2018). "New research suggests sonic weapon not likely in Cuban embassy employee illnesses". Medical Xpress. Retrieved January 11, 2019.
  33. "Cuban crickets, not weapon, heard by ill US diplomats: study". Science X. January 7, 2019. Retrieved January 11, 2019.
  34. Borger, Julian (August 25, 2017). "Botched surveillance job may have led to strange injuries at US embassy in Cuba". The Guardian. ISSN   0261-3077 . Retrieved October 26, 2017.