The US is reducing its diplomatic presence in Havana by greater than half and can warn US residents to not go to Cuba due to focused assaults which have injured at the least 21 US personnel, a senior official says.
“Until the government of Cuba can assure the United States of the safety of US government personnel in Cuba, our embassy will be reduced to emergency personnel so as to minimise the number of US government personnel at risk of exposure,” a senior State Department official advised reporters on Friday.
“Routine visa operations are suspended indefinitely,” mentioned the official, who like others on a convention name with reporters spoke on situation of anonymity. He mentioned non-essential embassy staff can be withdrawn in addition to all relations.
US and congressional officers mentioned on Thursday Washington was crafting a plan for a drawdown of staff from the Havana embassy in response to unexplained incidents which have harmed the well being of some US diplomats there.
The Cuban authorities has denied any function and is investigating. But it has up to now mentioned it has been unable to find out the trigger.
The senior State Department official mentioned that neither the US nor Cuban governments had been capable of establish who was liable for the assaults however burdened that “the government of Cuba is responsible for taking all appropriate steps to prevent attacks on our diplomatic personnel in Cuba”.
The partial evacuation, whereas depicted as a security measure, might ship a message of US displeasure over Cuba’s dealing with of the matter and ship one other blow to former US president Barack Obama’s insurance policies of engagement with its Cold War foe.
The signs of the 21 US embassy personnel harmed included “hearing loss, dizziness, tinnitus, balance problems, visual complaints, headache, fatigue, cognitive issues and difficulty sleeping”, the senior State Department official mentioned.
“Because our personnel’s safety is at risk and we are unable to identify the source of the attack, we believe that US citizens may also be at risk and warn them not to travel to Cuba,” the official added.