US Expels 15 Cuban Diplomats from Washington Embassy
- Author: Aubrey Nash Oct 05, 2017,
Oct 05, 2017, 0:27
The State Department Tuesday ordered 15 Cuban diplomats to leave the United States in the latest response to what US officials call a series of unexplained attacks that have sickened 22 American diplomats in Havana.
Last Friday, Washington issued a travel warning for the island and said it was reducing by about 60 percent its diplomatic staffing at the U.S. Embassy in Havana.
The U.S. government warned Americans not to travel to Cuba because of recent sonic attacks on U.S. citizens who were working for the U.S. Embassy in Havana. Those affected have exhibited physical symptoms including ear complaints, hearing loss, dizziness, headache, fatigue, cognitive issues, and difficulty sleeping.
After months of reports of diplomatic personnel in Cuba experiencing odd symptoms like hearing loss and nausea because of mysterious attacks - possibly made by a sonic device - the us chose to pull all non-essential diplomatic personnel from Cuba and stop issuing visas to Cubans. He called for the U.S. Embassy in Havana to be downgraded to an interests section.
Behind the scenes, though, investigators immediately started searching for explanations in the darker, rougher world of spycraft and counterespionage, given that so numerous first reported cases involved intelligence workers posted to the USA embassy.
Millions of Cuban families are caught in the middle with visas for Cuban visitors to the United States suspended.
US Marines James "Jim" Tracy and Larry Morris escort the American flag to be raised at the US Embassy in Havana, Cuba, for the first time in 54 years. All nations have an obligation to ensure the protection of diplomatic representatives in their countries. Cuba has not commented on Tuesday's announcement.
Cuban President Raúl Castro (left) shakes hands with former US President Barack Obama, 2015. The U.S. presented Cuban authorities with a list of names Tuesday, the official said.
Supporters of warmer U.S. -Cuba ties argue the Trump administration ultimately bowed to political pressure from opponents of rapprochement, such as Florida Sen.
On Friday, Washington issued a travel warning for the island and said it was reducing by about 60% its diplomatic staffing at the USA embassy in Havana.
The Trump administration imposed last week's and today's reprisals despite the U.S. State Department's admitting investigators have not been able to determine who is responsible or what caused the alleged health events, which Washington describes as "attacks" without any conclusions about it.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a U.S. state department official told reporters during a conference call that the department had communicated the demand to Cuban Ambassador Joe Ramon Cabanas.
Tensions between the two neighbours have been escalating amid serious U.S. concern about the unexplained attacks on Americans in Havana.
In numerous more recent cases, victims didn't hear noises and weren't aware an attack was occurring, identifying the symptoms only later.
Britain's Cuba Solidarity Campaign (CSC) spoke out after United States officials leaked government plans ordering Havana to cut staff at the embassy by 60 per cent.
"On September 29, the Department ordered the departure of non-emergency personnel assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Havana, as well as all family members", Tillerson added.
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"Regarding the attacks, there are now 22 persons medically confirmed to have experienced health effects due to the attacks on diplomatic personnel in Havana".