Cuban government: United States expulsion of diplomats 'irresponsible'
05 October, 2017, 00:28 | Author: Lorraine Moran
"We continue to maintain diplomatic relations with Cuba, and will continue to cooperate with Cuba as we pursue the investigation into these attacks", the Department of Statestatement added.
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 freakish health scares. "This order will ensure equality in our diplomatic operations", said U.S. Secretary of state Rex Tillerson.
Since the start of the illnesses, the administration of President Donald Trumphas stopped issuing visas to Cuban citizens hoping to visit the United States and issued a travel warning to US citizens visiting Cuba.
The State Department has confirmed at least 22 cases of Americans working for the USA government in Cuba suffering illness and injury following an unexplained string of "attacks" using advanced technology in and around the embassy. But according to United States officials, "The government of Cuba is responsible for taking all appropriate steps to prevent attacks on our diplomatic personnel in Cuba".
The 15 Cuban diplomats being expelled is roughly the same percentage being withdrawn from the US Embassy, officials said, though the raw numbers of personnel ordered to leave Havana has not been disclosed.
In Havana, U.S. diplomats have been frantically selling off their belongings at garage sales and on social media.
The first disturbing reports of piercing, high-pitched noises and inexplicable ailments pointed to someone deliberately targeting the US government's intelligence network on the communist-run island, in what seemed like a bone-chilling escalation of the tit-for-tat spy games that Washington and Havana have waged over the last half century.
The investigation started in February, and intelligence experts told one of the congressional intelligence committees that ultrasound, infrared, or even Xray machines could have been used in the attacks, but they also said they were not sure about that information.
Millions of Cuban families are caught in the middle with visas for Cuban visitors to the United States suspended.
Less than three years have passed since the longtime enemies began an ambitious diplomatic experiment, restoring formal ties despite lingering resentments and potent political opposition on both sides of the Florida Straits.
Lawmakers who had called on the Trump administrationto expel all of Cuba's diplomats applauded the move Tuesday. The expulsions, the official said, aim to "underscore to the Cubans that they must take more actions to protect our people on the ground".
From his perch on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, U.S. Sen.
He also said Cuban investigators have not been allowed by the U.S. to examine the residences in Havana where the American diplomats reported the alleged attacks.
The official also says that the American diplomats the U.S.is withdrawing from its embassy in Havana will be out of Cuba by the end of this week.
In August, the State Department said it was confident that the attacks had stopped but later said that its Havana staff is still at risk.
Mr Miller stressed that Cuba had denied involvement in the alleged attacks - and the USA had not yet explicitly blamed Havana for the mysterious high-pitched noises. The State Department official said the expulsion of Cuban officials was meant to ensure the Cuban embassy in Washington is similarly affected. Cuba has vociferously denied any responsibility for the attacks and even allowed the Federal Bureau of Investigation to come investigate.
To consider restoring the operations again at the USA embassy in Havana, "we will need full assurances from the Cuban government that these attacks would not continue", the State Department official said.
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Remember the diplomatic triumph that was the decision of Barack Obama and John Kerry to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba, despite the communist dictatorship agreeing to absolutely nothing in the realm of human rights improvements or more responsible global behavior?
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