Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for Central America

Newsline: 25th Person at U.S. Embassy in Cuba Is Mysteriously Sickened

Another U.S. Embassy employee in Cuba has come down with mysterious health symptoms consistent with those suffered by at least two dozen workers at the Havana compound, the State Department said. Confirmation of the symptoms in a 25th embassy employee — one of two staffers medically evacuated from Havana — brings investigators no closer to determining exactly what happened since the first incident was reported in late 2016. “We still don’t know, to this day, what is causing it and who is responsible,” said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert. The second employee evacuated from Cuba is still being evaluated, Nauert said. Before this incident, the last time an embassy worker was known to have been affected was in August. U.S. authorities are still investigating the confirmed cases in Cuba and one in China, where an employee at the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou experienced similar symptoms. The Cuban government has denied any involvement, but U.S. officials have said Cuba is a “small island” and that they believe the government must know who the perpetrator is.



Newsline: Cuba ‘doesn’t know what happened to latest US embassy worker to fall ill’

Cuba said on Sunday that it that has no idea what caused a US diplomat to suffer a mysterious ailment in the country, soon after similar symptoms were experienced by US officials in a Chinese consulate. Similar incidents have ended with US diplomats and their families suffering suspected brain injuries as a result of what some speculate may be a sonic weapon. Following the previous attacks, the US – saying Cuba had a responsibility to protect diplomats – expelled Cuban staff from the Cuban embassy in Washington, and issued a travel warning to US citizens. Sunday’s foreign ministry statement termed those actions politically motivated, pointing out that “after more than a year of investigations by Cuba and the United States … there are no credible hypotheses nor scientific conclusions that justify the actions taken by the US government against Cuba.” Havana said it sent investigators to the home who found no potential source of a sound and were not granted access to the official. US officials said on Friday that they had pulled two workers from Cuba and were testing them for possible brain injury. There was no immediate explanation of why the Cuban statement only referred to one official. The two individuals are considered “potentially new cases” but have not yet been “medically confirmed,” a State Department official said.


Newsline: Petition demands closure of the Haitian consulate

A Petition, which demands that the British government acts immediately to close the Haitian consulate in the Turks and Caicos Islands, is currently in circulation. It was launched in light of the recent influx of illegal sloops into the Turks and Caicos Islands. The strongly worded petition has been published on social media sites including Facebook and Twitter. It states: “We, the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands, have had enough of the illegal entry of persons violating our border on sloops, sea going vessels and boats from the neighboring country Haiti. “In recent times the significant increase has enraged our people and caused widespread fear amongst the population. “It is a threat to our overall security. We desire to see a cease in diplomatic normalcy with Haiti until the illegal entry stops. “We demand an immediate closure of the Haitian consulate in Providenciales, which we believe is a tool used by illegal migrants in facilitating their efforts at illegal entry and illegal residency.


Newsline: USA Shuts Down its Nicaragua Embassy

As Nicaragua slips deeper into violent chaos with the Ortega-Murillo government clinging to power amid massive protests, the US Embassy in Managua just closed its doors today, June 1st. An embassy statement said that the continuous unrest in all Nicaragua, including interruptions in traffic, has impacted the operations of the US Embassy, which will remain closed as of June 1, 2018 until further notice. Some limited consular services will still be attended to by phone, said the embassy. “The scheduled appointments for visa applications will be reprogrammed as soon as possible.” The statement advises US government personnel in Nicaragua to remain in their homes and avoid unnecessary travel in the capital, avoiding the main downtown roundabouts and areas around the universities.


Newsline: Guatemalan court halts removal of Swedish ambassador

Guatemala’s highest court has halted the government’s request that Sweden remove its ambassador. The Constitutional Court ruled that the administration of President Jimmy Morales must follow established international rules in resolving the issue. In early May, the government asked Sweden and Venezuela to remove their ambassadors and accused them of interfering in Guatemala’s internal affairs. Swedish ambassador Anders Kompass was given 30 days to leave after he announced Sweden’s financial support for a United Nations-sponsored commission investigating corruption in Guatemala. The commission, which goes by the initials CICIG, had accused President Jimmy Morales of corruption related to alleged illegal campaign financing while he was secretary general of his party. Morales subsequently tried unsuccessfully to expel the commission’s head, Ivan Velasquez, from the country.


Newsline: Jewish American billionaire funded Guatemalan delegation flight for Jerusalem embassy opening

Jewish American billionaire Sheldon Adelson funded the Boeing 767 flight of the Guatemalan delegation sent to Israel to attend the ceremony in honor of their embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Guatemalan foreign minister Sandra Jovel broke the news on the radio show ConCriterio about the speculated trip cost that covered government officials, guests, and religious leaders. Jovel said Adelson did not have business affairs in Guatemala. Nonetheless, director of civil society organization Citizen Action, Manfredo Marroquin, said President Jimmy Morales’s administration violated Guatemalan law by accepting the gift from a private entity, Haaretz reported. The Republican mega-donor had also offered to subsidize the cost of building the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.


Newsline: Guatemala opens embassy in Jerusalem

Guatemala opened an embassy in Jerusalem on Wednesday, two days after the United States inaugurated its new site in the contested city in a move that infuriated Palestinians and drew international condemnation. Israeli troops shot dead dozens of Palestinian protesters on the Gaza border on Monday when the high-profile opening of the U.S. Embassy to Israel in Jerusalem by the administration of President Donald Trump raised tension to boiling point after weeks of anti-Israeli demonstrations. Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended the embassy’s opening on Wednesday in an office complex in west Jerusalem. “It’s not a coincidence that Guatemala is opening its embassy in Jerusalem right among the first. You were always among the first. You were the second country to recognize Israel,” Netanyahu said at the ceremony, referring to its founding in 1948.