Closure of U.S. embassy in Cuba "under review": U.S. top diplomat

19 September, 2017, 01:23 | Author: Dustin Murphy

The country could close down the USA embassy in Havana, Cuba following several unexplained incidents tied to the health of American diplomats.

Tillerson says the mysterious acoustic attacks that have injured state department employees in Cuba are prompting the review.

"It's a very serious issue with respect to the harm that certain individuals have suffered", Tillerson told CBS.

Five Republican senators recently wrote to Mr. Tillerson, urging the Trump administration to declare Cuban diplomats unwelcome and shutter the embassy in Cuba.

Since first reported in August 2017, the USA government has taken what appears to be a patient approach to assigning blame and responsibility for the mysterious attacks that targeted US embassy staff in Havana over the a year ago or so.

A decision to shutter the embassy, even temporarily, would deal a demoralising blow to the delicate detente that former U.S. president Barack Obama and Cuban leader Raul Castro announced in late 2014. The American Foreign Service Association reported this month that the symptoms among those affected included mild traumatic brain injury, permanent hearing loss, loss of balance, severe headaches and brain swelling. Some reported vibrations or loud sounds that were only audible in parts of rooms, while others heard nothing but developed symptoms.

The last reported incident was on August 21, according an official who spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity.

In a rare face-to-face conversation, Castro told US diplomat Jeffrey DeLaurentis that he was equally baffled, and concerned. But U.S. officials were caught off guard by the way he addressed the matter, devoid of the indignant, how-dare-you-accuse-us attitude the U.S. had come to expect from Cuba's leaders.

The Cubans even offered to let the Federal Bureau of Investigation go to Havana and investigate, a rare level of openness that suggested to some USA officials that the Cuban government was equally baffled about the cause. The U.S. State Department has not blamed Havana for the attacks but asked two Cuban diplomats to leave Washington in May.

While the culprits and their motives remain unclear, US politicians are growing impatient with the situation. In Washington, lawmakers in Congress have been raising alarm over the incidents, with some calling for the embassy to be closed.


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