The United States and Cuba are embroiled in a minor — at least by these two countries’ standards — diplomatic incident over alleged “acoustic attacks” on the American embassy in Havana that left 21 people dealing with hearing loss and nausea.
Both governments have publicly stated how serious the matter is, with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announcing Tuesday the expulsion of 15 Cuban diplomats in response. But one Cuban thinks the sonic weapon attack, which allegedly targeted embassy staffers’ homes in 2016, is preposterous, and she used a classic American sci-fi reference to make her feelings known.
“That supposed sonic attack on the American embassy — not even *Star Wars* was so fantastic,” Mariela Castro said in a recent interview. She is the daughter of President Raúl Castro, niece of his predecessor Fidel Castro, and the director of the country’s National Center for Sex Education. “They did not come up with that kind of attack. They have more imagination than the filmmaker.”
Castro makes the argument that the U.S. is trying to undermine Cuba’s increasingly normalized international standing since the decision in December 2014 to “warm relations.” This so-called “Cuban thaw” was one of Barack Obama’s signature foreign policy achievements and ended a 55-year embargo. President Donald Trump, however, said in June he would be canceling all agreements the previous administration had made with Cuba.
Read more from Inverse: “What Is a Sonic Attack? Here’s What Happened to U.S. Diplomats in Cuba”
That Mariela Castro compared the incident to Star Wars at all offers another way to think about the history of the countries’ relations, or lack thereof: The original film was released in 1977, nearly two decades into the embargo and 37 years before it ended. As such, there was technically no legal way for Castro or any other Cuban to see what is arguably the most popular film in history until three years ago — though Cuba has a long tradition of pirating American media, which a 2015 Washington Post story attributed in part to the socialist belief that entertainment is essentially a public good.