Washington (September 30, 2017): The United States State Department is withdrawing all families of employees and nonessential personnel from Cuba, after a string of mysterious attacks against US diplomats.
Several US officials said that at least 21 US diplomats and family members became ill after apparent sonic attacks. The American embassy will continue to operate with a 60 percent reduction in staff.
The officials said the US will stop issuing visas in Cuba effective immediately because of the staff reductions and the decision is not described as a retaliatory measure.The State Department is also issuing a travel warning, urging Americans not to travel to Cuba because they could also be at risk as some of the attacks against diplomats have taken place at hotels where Americans stay, a senior State Department official said on Friday.Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said “The decision to reduce our diplomatic presence in Havana was made to ensure the safety of our personnel. We maintain diplomatic relations with Cuba, and our work in Cuba continues to be guided by the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States.”
While the Cuban foreign ministry called the decision “hasty” and one that “will affect bilateral relations.”
Josefina Vidal Ferreiro, the director general of the ministry’s US division, said, “the Government of Cuba has no responsibility for the alleged acts and is seriously and rigorously complying with its obligations under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961, as regards the protection of the integrity of diplomatic agents accredited in the country and their families, without exception.”
The statement reiterated “Cuba’s willingness to continue an active cooperation between the authorities of the two countries, for the full clarification of these facts, for which a more efficient US involvement will be essential.”