Cruises to Cuba Continue Despite US Warnings

Tillerson kicks out 15 Cuban diplomats from Washington over mystery attacks on Havana embassy which have left 22 Americans ill
US Boots 15 Cuban Diplomats out of Washington

05 October, 2017

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, however, that USA would continue to maintain diplomatic relations with Cuba even though the size of the U.S. mission in Havana also would be reduced to a minimum.

He spoke Tuesday after the US government expelled 15 of Cuba's diplomats to protest its failure to protect Americans from the unexplained attacks.

Rodriguez had met with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to discuss the reported attacks and said that Cuba had implemented additional security measures to protect U.S. officials. Diplomatic relations will be maintained and Cuba has said it will continue investigating, he told reporters.

US investigators, including FBI agents, have been trying to determine what has caused the injuries, which include hearing loss, dizziness, tinnitus, headache, fatigue, and cognitive issues. "The decision on expulsions was taken due to Cuba's inability to protect our diplomats in Havana as well as to ensure equity on the impact on our respective operations".

The U.S. decision was communicated to Cuban Ambassador Jose Ramon Cabanas on Tuesday, and the diplomats were given seven days to leave, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The U.S. has called the situation "ongoing". Now both countries are poised to cut their embassies by more than half, as invisible, unexplained attacks threaten delicate ties between the Cold War rivals.

The attacks are said to be from sonic devices but the investigations have not found anything to confirm that.

"The United States is using the confusion and uncertainty surrounding these events as justification to take a big step backwards in US-Cuban relations", he said.

"The more we escalate tensions with Cuba, the harder it will be to solve this mystery", said Daniel Erikson, a Latin America specialist in the Obama White House and now a managing director of Blue Star Strategies, a consulting firm.

The total of Americans affected has now reached 22, with another medically confirmed case being announced on Tuesday.

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The AP reported Monday that USA intelligence agents working at the embassy under diplomatic cover were among the first and most severely affected victims of the attacks, which began shortly after President Donald Trump's election in November.

KELEMEN: And she says this will have a chilling effect on U.S. -Cuba relations.

Earlier reports suggested sonic attacks were to blame, but nothing has been proven.

While the USA did not directly blame Cuba for the attacks, a State Department official said Cuban officials needed to provide greater assurances that diplomats will no longer be attacked before both countries could resume regular diplomatic operations.

CNN reported in August that the attacks, which began in November and ended this spring, left some embassy personnel with mild traumatic brain injury; two might have permanent hearing loss.

USA authorities confirmed in August that at least 21 Americans working at the embassy in Havana had suffered physical debilitations. The United States has not blamed Cuba, which has denied any involvement and cooperated with a U.S. investigation by FBI agents dispatched there. It described actions taken by our State Department, such as the ordered departure of non-emergency USA government employees and their family members from Havana, as protective measures.

The U.S. "needs full assurances from the Cuban government that these attacks will not continue", the official said. So we need to keep probing and figuring out what on earth has been going on.

The most obvious motive for attacking Americans in Havana would be to drive a wedge between the U.S. and Cuba.

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