The U.S. Embassy in Cuba will lose roughly 60 percent of its U.S. staff
In this photo taken Aug. 14, 2015, a U.S. flag flies at the U.S. embassy in Havana, Cuba. American diplomats who served in Cuba have been diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injury following mysterious, unexplained attacks on their health, the union that represents U.S. diplomats said Friday, in the most detailed account to date of the growing list of symptoms. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan), photo: AP/Desmond Boylan
29 of September 2017 16:28:35
WASHINGTON – The United States issued an ominous warning to its citizens on Friday to stay away from Cuba and ordered home more than half the U.S. diplomatic corps, acknowledging neither the Cubans nor the FBI can figure out who or what is responsible for months of mysterious health ailments.No longer tiptoeing around the issue, the Trump administration shifted to calling the episodes "attacks" rather than "incidents."The U.S. actions are sure to rattle already delicate ties between the longtime adversaries who only recently began putting their hostility behind them. The U.S. Embassy in Cuba will lose roughly 60 percent of its U.S. staff and will stop processing visas for prospective Cuban travelers to the United States indefinitely, officials said. Roughly 50 U.S. citizens had been working at the embassy.President Donald Trump said that in Cuba "they did some very bad things" that harmed U.S. diplomats, but he didn't say who he might mean by "they."Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who reviewed options for a response with Trump, said, "Until the government of Cuba can ensure the safety of our diplomats in Cuba, our embassy will be reduced to emergency personnel in order to minimize the number of diplomats at risk of exposure to harm."
The moves deliver a significant setback to the delicate reconciliation between the U.S. and Cuba, countries that endured a half-century estrangement despite only 90 miles of separation. In 2015, President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro restored diplomatic ties, embassies were re-opened and travel and commerce restrictions were eased. Trump has reversed some changes but has broadly left the rapprochement in place.After considering options that ranged all the way to a full embassy shutdown, Tillerson made the decision to reduce all nonessential personnel and all family members. Also included in the recall is Scott Hamilton, currently the highest-ranked diplomat at the mission. Staffing at the embassy in Havana was already lower than usual due to recent hurricanes that whipped through Cuba.Cubans seeking visas to enter the U.S. may be able to apply through embassies in nearby countries, officials said. The U.S. will stop sending official delegations to Cuba, though diplomatic discussions will continue in Washington.The United States notified Cuba early Friday via its embassy in Washington.Cuba blasted the U.S.'s move as "hasty" and lamented that it was being taken without conclusive investigation results. Still, Josefina Vidal, Cuba's top diplomat for U.S. affairs, said her government was willing to continue cooperation with Washington "to fully clarify these incidents." Her government took the rare step of the inviting the FBI to the island after being presented with the allegations earlier this year.
So Castro regime allows attacks on Americans forcing us to drawdown to keep them safe but he gets to keep about same # of people here? 2/2— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) 29 de septiembre de 2017
JOSH LEDERMANMATTHEW LEE