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United States cuts diplomatic staff in Cuba over injuries; Canada not following suit

United States cuts diplomatic staff in Cuba over injuries; Canada not following suit

In conjunction with the ordered departure of our diplomatic personnel, the Department has issued a Travel Warning advising USA citizens to avoid travel to Cuba and informing them of our decision to draw down our diplomatic staff.

US citizens in Cuba in need of emergency assistance should contact the embassy by telephone at +(53)(7) 839-4100 or the Department of State at 1-202-501-4444.

"We don't know the means or the methods or how these attacks are being carried out", the official said, noting that it appears USA embassy personnel are most at risk.

Victims have reported a range of symptoms, including dizziness, nausea, headaches, balance problems, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), nosebleeds, difficulty concentrating and recalling words, permanent hearing loss, and speech problems.

The fact that some of the attacks targeted at least one USA diplomat staying in a hotel and happened as recently as August led to the State Department's decision to issue the travel warning to all Americans.

The Embassy will remain open, but only emergency staff will remain to perform essential services, such as aiding American travelers.

The US expelled two Cuban diplomats in late May over the incidents.

Both governments should avoid calls to sever all diplomatic ties or travel, or encourage retaliatory efforts without identifying the responsible parties, the Tampa Democrat says. Tillerson made the decision to draw down the embassy overnight, AP reported officials as saying, after considering other options, including a full embassy shutdown.

The decision follows what the New York Times calls "mysterious attacks" that have injured 21 people associated with the embassy over the course of almost a year.




Though officials initially suspected some futuristic "sonic attack", the picture has grown muddier. The FBI has been involved in the investigation. And clues about the circumstances of the incidents seem to make any explanation scientifically implausible.

As a result of the incidents, the USA will also immediately stop issuing visas for Cuban citizens in Cuba. Cuba's embassy has not commented either.

The US embassy in Havana will continue to operate with a reduced staff. Canadian diplomats in Cuba also reported similar injuries in March 2017.

"We will continue to investigate these attacks and get to the bottom of it", the official added. President Donald Trump has reversed some changes but has broadly left the rapprochement in place.

It appears that the Trump administration has an opportunity to undo the reopening of diplomatic relations with Cuba - just like it wanted to do. No American tourists are yet known to have suffered harm from the unspecified attacks.

The U.S. moves deliver a significant setback to the delicate reconciliation between America and Cuba, countries that endured a half-century estrangement despite only 90 miles of separation. Staffing at the embassy in Havana was already lower than usual due to recent hurricanes that whipped through Cuba. USA officials recently revealed that 21 United States diplomats and family members have been affected.

The former Cold War foes appeared no closer to resolving the freaky, frightening health crisis after a hastily arranged meeting between Tillerson and visiting Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez.

The Cuban government apparently asked for the meeting between Tillerson and Rodriguez.

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