Tension mounts between Cuba and the US

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
Author

05 October, 2017

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S.is working to "ensure equity" between the United States and Cuba by kicking out 15 of its diplomats.

The U.S. government announced Tuesday that it's ordering 15 staff members from Cuba's embassy in Washington, D.C., to leave the country following months of mysterious "health attacks" affecting American personnel in Havana.

The move is needed to "minimize the number of diplomats at risk of exposure to harm", Tillerson said.

Despite the move the U.S.is not blaming Cuba for attacks on Americans in Havana and is maintaining diplomatic relations. A fourth source added that the US decision to remove Cuban personnel from its territory was an act of "reciprocity" following the Trump administration's decision earlier this month to remove all nonessential staff from the embassy in Havana. The move is the latest fallout from mysterious attacks that have caused health problems for Americans working at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba.

Tillerson said on Friday that the Cuban government had not provided a guarantee that it would step up measures to protect USA envoys in Havana and that a personnel drawdown there was necessary to protect Americans.

The State Department provided Cuba's ambassador to Washington, Jose Cabanas, with a list of 15 officials the US wants to leave the USA and gave those officials seven days to depart, a department official said.

A USA investigation into the matter is still ongoing.

The first disturbing reports of piercing, high-pitched noises and inexplicable ailments pointed to someone deliberately targeting the USA 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 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.

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US Marines James "Jim" Tracy and Larry Morris escort the American flag to be raised at the US Embassy in Havana, Cuba, for the first time in 54 years.

"It appears that this plays right into the hands of a potential rogue actor - Russian Federation perhaps - that is trying to create a further wedge between our two countries and other nations in the hemisphere", said Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y.

Cuba's Embassy in Washington did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Two years ago, Cuban leader Raul Castro and former President Barack Obama restored diplomatic ties, ordered embassies reopened, and eased travel and commerce restrictions. What's more, the paper says investigators "have been unable to duplicate in a lab the effects the diplomats have experienced".

From his perch on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, U.S. Sen. It described actions taken by our State Department, such as the ordered departure of non-emergency US government employees and their family members from Havana, as protective measures.

Britain's Cuba Solidarity Campaign (CSC) spoke out after USA officials leaked government plans ordering Havana to cut staff at the embassy by 60 per cent. Individuals familiar with the situation say it wasn't until USA spies, posted to the embassy under diplomatic cover, reported hearing freaky sounds and even stranger physical effects that the United States realized something was wrong. Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla flew to Washington in a futile attempt to dissuade Tillerson from withdrawing USA diplomats. All US nonessential diplomats in Cuba are likely to leave Havana by the end of the week following a string of sonic attacks, a senior State Department official told reporters on Tuesday. The Cuban government allowing the Federal Bureau of Investigation to travel to Havana has been taken as another sign that Cuba was genuinely concerned with the attacks.

The attacks are suspected to be from sonic devices.

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


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