Cuba to Remain Off-Bounds for US Embassy Staff

The US Embassy in Havana no longer provides visa services for Cubans who are not government officials. Photo: Juan Suarez

 

HAVANA TIMES – The United States has decided to maintain the personnel cut at its embassy in Cuba, carried out in September over alleged attacks on the health of its diplomats, still under investigation without having yet found out the cause, reported dpa.

“The embassy will continue to operate with the minimum personnel necessary to carry out the essential diplomatic and consular functions,” the State Department announced today.

In addition, from now on, relatives will not be able to live in Cuba with the few diplomats stationed there.

The result has been that if a Cuban seeks a visa of any kind for the United States, they have to go for their interview in person in Colombia or Mexico, a costly and complicated process.

“The health, safety and well-being of US government personnel and their families are a major concern for Secretary (Rex) Tillerson and were a key factor in the decision to reduce the number of personnel assigned to Havana,” said the State Department.

The United States says that since November 2016, 24 diplomats who worked in Cuba and relatives suffered alterations in their health due to attacks of unknown origin that have caused symptoms such as hearing loss, dizziness, buzzing, headaches, fatigue, cognitive problems and sleep difficulties.

At the end of September Tillerson ordered home the majority of the staff at the US embassy in Havana and shortly after he expelled 15 Cuban diplomats from Washington.

The issue has fueled the tension in bilateral relations that the Democrat Barack Obama and Raul Castro resumed in 2015 after more than 50 years of rupture.

Relations already suffered when President Donald Trump announced changes in US policy towards Cuba in June last year, which included a hardening of the embargo and putting greater limitations on the trips of US citizens to the island.

Cuba has not questioned the health problems that the US personnel have suffered, but repeatedly assured that they do not respond to any attack. In early November, foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez accused Washington of lying to damage relations between the two countries.



4 thoughts on “Cuba to Remain Off-Bounds for US Embassy Staff

  • I am SO SORRY this is happening.

    Reply
    • Me too. Someone did something very sinister. There were real people injured, some seriously. Only Castro hardliners have a vested interest in unraveling improved US/Cuban relations. As a result, the Castros remain my #1 suspect.

      Reply
  • No “attacks” occurred. This whole affair was ginned up by USAID (the folks who brought you Alan Gross).
    It’s gone on too long.
    It’s time for either Raul or Diaz-Canel to fight back. Call a halt to all U.S. cruise ships. That will hurt U.S. politicos because many of them are recipients of major bribes (excuse me, donations) from the cruise industry.
    Cuba cannot remain silent in the face of continued false allegations.

    Reply
    • Very few of the Cruise Line companies that make port in Cuba are American-flagged. Canceling cruise ships to Cuba will hurt Cubans far more than it will hurt American “politicos”, let alone Americans in Kansas or anywhere else for that matter. Dumb idea. Saying that these attacks were “ginned up” by USAID or any other US government agency, for that matter, does not explain how the Canadian embassy staff were affected too. REALLY dumb idea.

      Reply

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