HAVANA TIMES – Only a couple days before a new president is picked in Cuba, the government’s longtime friend, Canada, made a surprise announcement Monday that steps up the mystery over attacks on the health of diplomatic personnel and their families in Havana.
The Canadian Press reported that the families of Canadian diplomats serving in Cuba are being asked to return home immediately in what could be a prelude to a greater pull-out.
Similar health issues were cited by the United States in its near shut down of its embassy in Havana, where consular services were suspended for Cubans and only a skeleton staff remains.
Canadian officials said the decision was made after “10 Canadians continue to show unexplained brain symptoms.” They noted they are working with both US and Cuban authorities in trying to solve the mystery of the health issues involved and their source.
The Canadian Press notes that Havana has now been declared an “unaccompanied post” in the Canadian foreign service — a designation Cuba now shares with Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and South Sudan.
For years Canadians are the leading sender of tourists to Cuba reaching around 40% of all foreign visitors. So far there are no changes in that relationship.
Government officials refused to give further details of the new medical findings citing privacy issues noting that the case is unprecedented in diplomatic affairs.
A study of the Journal of the American Medical Association in February said that Canada and Cuba continue to have “a positive and constructive relationship” and have been co-operating in the thus far unsuccessful effort to find the cause since problems first surfaced about a year ago.
The Cuban government has yet to report on the Canadian decision to send home family members of diplomats in its State controlled media.