SI | STOP-Imperialism.com

Cuba condemns US Embassy staff cuts

Cuba condemns US Embassy staff cuts

Cuba condemns US Embassy staff cuts
March 06
11:09 2018

Cuba has condemned the United States’ move to make permanent the withdrawal of 60 percent of the American Embassy staff in Havana over mysterious ailments affecting some diplomats there.

Cuban Foreign Ministry’s newly-appointed director of US affairs, Carlos Fernandez de Cossio, condemned Washington’s decision on Monday, saying that the move was politically motivated and had nothing to do with the safety of American diplomats.

The US State Department made the embassy staff cuts permanent last week. Washington initially reduced the number of its diplomats in Havana last October in response to alleged hearing loss and other ailments affecting at least 24 embassy workers.

De Cossio said the drastic reduction in the number of US Embassy staff would adversely affect consular services and make travel plans more difficult for ordinary citizens.

He said the move could also erode collaboration between the two countries on migration.

The US move came even as American investigators have not been able to identify the cause of the health issues. There has been speculation that some sort of “sonic attacks” may have been carried out against the diplomats, but there has been no confirmation. Cuba denies any wrongdoing.

US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, however, dismissed the Cuban complaint as “ridiculous,” saying, “Let’s remind Cuba: they are obligated under the Vienna Convention to protect our diplomats.”

“It is very serious that 24 of our US government colleagues suffered health attacks, some with serious and ongoing symptoms. Secretary [of State Rex] Tillerson had to protect his staff by limiting our work at the US Embassy in Havana to emergency service,” she said.

While Nauert underlined that the US probe of the unexplained health issues at the Havana Embassy is continuing, she blamed Cuba for the permanent staff cuts, saying, “Rather than find excuses, Cuba should focus on helping to locate who or what is responsible for the harm caused to American citizens.”

This is while Cuba has launched an investigation of its own and has said it is ready to cooperate with US officials on the matter.

Last October, Washington also expelled 15 Cuban diplomats after at least 24 American staff and family members reported a mix of headaches, dizziness, and eyesight, hearing, sleep and concentration problems.

Many of the affected diplomats claimed their illness came on after they heard strange noises in their homes or hotel rooms. Some reported that the sounds appeared to be directed at them, and that their symptoms abated when they moved to another room.

The US Embassy building is seen reflected in a pond of water, in Havana, Cuba, on October 3, 2017 (Photo by AFP)

Meanwhile, a study published last month by American doctors who examined 21 of the diplomats has been criticized for assuming from the start that the diplomats were exposed to some unknown “energy source.” Critics say this remains conjecture and is far from proven.

In the immediate aftermath of the alleged incident, unnamed US officials claimed that the diplomats had been victims of “acoustic attacks,” from a device that operated outside the audible range of sound. However, an FBI probe found no evidence for that claim.

According to a February 15 report by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the US government asked doctors at the University of Pennsylvania to run tests on 21 of the diplomats. The results found no evidence of white matter tract abnormalities, though more advanced scans are underway.

After decades of hostility, the US and Cuba restored ties and the US Embassy reopened in 2015. But relations have strained over the ailments affecting the American diplomats.

About Author

Alexander Ionov

Alexander Ionov

Related Articles