Havana — A bizarre string of attacks on diplomats in Havana has sent Cuban-American relations to their lowest point in decades, with the Trump administration virtually closing its embassy here and expelling Cuban officials from Washington. But few people on this communist-run island believe a word of the U.S. allegations.

Despite increasingly tough talk by the U.S., including White House Chief of Staff John Kelly saying Thursday that Cuba “could stop the attacks on our diplomats,” the common reaction in Havana is mocking disbelief.

“It isn’t the first or the last excuse that they invent to discredit Cuba and its leaders,” lawyer Alexander Tamame, 36, said as he walked through the Vedado neighborhood in this city where the U.S. says at least 22 strange episodes have occurred over the last year. “I don’t think anything really happened.”

This skepticism stretches from government supporters like Tamame to its detractors; from fans of the United States to those wary of the giant to the north. Talk to anyone, anywhere in the country about the U.S. allegations that Cuba bears responsibility for attacks with a strange sonic weapon that have affected at least 22 embassy officials or spouses and you’ll likely be met with laughter.

“I don’t believe any part of it,” said Luis Felipe Gonzalez, a 59-year-old taxi driver. “It’s absurd propaganda.”

American officials say embassy officials began hearing strange, high-pitched shrieking noises in their homes last year, with many soon after reporting severe symptoms including deafness, vision problems and difficulty concentrating. Despite unprecedented Cuban cooperation with a U.S. investigation, the Trump administration says President Raul Castro’s government has failed to guarantee that Americans will be safe in Cuba.

Some Havana residents took a mocking tone.

“It sounds like Star Wars,” said Dayan Rosete, a 23-year-old language student, as he stood chatting with a friend in front of the Habana Libre hotel.

Cuban skepticism reflects an increasingly assertive stance by President Raul’s Castro’s government, which has gone in three months from issuing statements of deep concern about the attacks to questioning whether they even occurred.


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