Marco Rubio Backs State Department Removing Cuban Diplomats from US

05 October, 2017, 00:27 | Author: Darrell Lopez
  • The Cuban embassy in Washington. File

Shortly thereafter, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement that the decision was a response to "Cuba's failure to take appropriate steps to protect our diplomats".

The Trump administration is preparing to ask Cuba to withdraw 60 per cent of its diplomats from Washington, United States officials said Monday, in response to last week's U.S. move to cut its own embassy staff in Havana by a similar amount.

"Because our personnel's safety is at risk, and we are unable to identify the source of the attacks, we believe USA citizens may also be at risk and warn them not to travel to Cuba", the United States said in a formal travel warning.

This comes after the US ordered most of its own personnel out of Havana, citing attacks targeting American Embassy employees.

Over the past several months US personnel in Cuba reported a variety of symptoms, including hearing loss, dizziness, cognitive issues and trouble sleeping.

"We have underscored repeatedly to the Cuban government its responsibility for the safety, wellbeing, security and protection of our diplomatic staff under the Vienna Convention in Havana", the state department official said.

And now it's demanding the same of Cuba's embassy, giving them a list of 15 diplomats who must leave within seven days. The U.S. has called the situation "ongoing". But it wasn't until Friday that the United States ordered more than half its embassy staff to return home.

So far, our government has not said that it has found evidence that Cuba is responsible for the sonic attacks on US personnel.

The weak bridge that had been built between the United States and Cuba is about to break.

We are, of course, closely monitoring and are in touch with USA, as well as Cuban authorities, and will act accordingly if anything warrants a change in our plans. What it does is require the Cuban Government to be able to fulfill its treaty obligations for the safety, well-being, and protection of foreign diplomats in their country. Cuba has not commented on Tuesday's announcement. The staff already was reduced because of hurricane warnings, and officials did not say how many people subsequently left the country.

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

But the US soon discovered that actual diplomats at the embassy had also been hit by similar attacks, officials said, further confounding the search for a culprit and a motive.

According to the state department, this measure "will ensure equity in our respective diplomatic operations".

Cuba has denied involvement in the attacks and is conducting its own investigation.

The U.S. has not identified the device used for the alleged attacks, and Federal Bureau of Investigation sweeps have turned up nothing, the AP reported.

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.

Although the United States does not blame Cuba for what the State Department considers "specific attacks", the Trump Administration wants to make it clear that it is Cuba' responsibility to take more actions to shield the US personnel from the unexplained injuries. The action announced today by the Government of the United States is related to the health incidents reported by members of the US Embassy in Havana, the causes of which are still unknown.

Among the symptoms experienced by affected diplomats are hearing loss, headaches, trouble sleeping and balancing difficulties.

For those staying and new arrivals, the USA has been giving instructions about what to watch and listen for to identify an attack in progress.

It appears that the Trump administration has an opportunity to undo the reopening of diplomatic relations with Cuba - just like it wanted to do.



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