Cuba blames USA for worsening bilateral ties

Oct 05, 2017, 00:28
Cuba blames USA for worsening bilateral ties

According to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Cuba failed to "take appropriate steps" following alleged "attacks" on American personnel in the Caribbean country.

The State Department announced Tuesday it had told Cuba to remove 15 people from its embassy in Washington, a not-quite-tit-for-tat reprisal for the sudden departure last week of USA diplomats from Havana after a spate of weird health scares.

But he said the move to reduce staffing at the Havana embassy was needed to "minimise the number of diplomats at risk of exposure to harm". Diplomatic relations will be maintained and Cuba has said it will continue investigating, he told reporters.

On September 29, as a precaution until the source of the sonic attacks would be determined, the department ordered the departure of non-emergency personnel assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Havana, as well as all family members.

USA 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.

Washington has given Cuba a list of 15 of its diplomats who must leave the USA within seven days although they are not being declared "persona non grata".

There was reluctance to punish Cuba when the USA still hasn't blamed anyone.

KELEMEN: To limit the exposure of Americans, the US ordered more than half of its embassy staff home. That has raised concerns among investigators that the attacks may be getting more sophisticated and harder to detect, individuals briefed on the investigation said. The United States has praised its willingness to co-operate, but also has avoided sharing sensitive details about the investigation.

Only 27 people now work at the Havana embassy.

"It appears that this plays right into the hands of a potential rogue actor - Russia, perhaps - that is trying to create a further wedge between our two countries and other nations in the hemisphere".

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

Cuban President Raúl Castro (left) shakes hands with former US President Barack Obama, 2015. Cuban officials say they're disappointed in the U.S. retaliatory measures but will continue cooperating with the investigation.

Supporters of warmer U.S. -Cuba ties argue the Trump administration ultimately bowed to political pressure from opponents of rapprochement, such as Florida Sen.

Bruno Rodriguez spoke on Tuesday after the United States government expelled 15 of Cuba's diplomats to protest against its failure to protect Americans from the unexplained attacks. Individuals familiar with the situation say it wasn't until US spies, posted to the embassy under diplomatic cover, reported hearing weird sounds and even stranger physical effects that the United States realized something was wrong.

The Americans will not be allowed to return to Cuba until the government in Havana can assure their well being, said the U.S. official assigned to brief reporters on the expulsion.

Rodriguez assured that Cuba has never carried out and will never carry out any attacks on diplomats and their families.

Though the State Department has called all the cases "medically confirmed", several U.S. officials said it's unclear whether all of the victims' symptoms can be conclusively tied to attacks.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said later Tuesday that the move was "not a punishment" and that the US had "not assigned any blame" for the attacks. His appeals unsuccessful, Rodriguez called a news conference in the Cuban capital to again deny involvement and defend his country's efforts to assist in the USA investigation.

Share with Us - We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article, and smart, constructive criticism. However, since Canadian diplomats were affected as well, there is a growing sense that the Cuban government really isn't involved since Canada and Cuba have long had good relations.

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