Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for Central America

Newsline: Panama Opens First Embassy in China After Axing Taiwan Ties

Months after breaking ties with Taiwan, Panama has opened its first embassy in China’s capital of Beijing in what has been described as a “historic” move. Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela hailed the move as “historic” and reiterated his commitment to the “One China” policy. Varela first considered axing diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 2006, shortly after he became leader of his party, but he didn’t make the move until June of this year. Varela, currently on a week-long visit to China, is due to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping. The two are expected to sign a number of agreements on everything from the economy to trade and tourism.

https://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Panama-Opens-First-Embassy-in-China-After-Axing-Taiwan-Ties-20171116-0040.html

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Newsline: Costa Rica Ambassador Moves To Bengaluru To Save Herself From ‘Toxic’ Delhi Air

While the pollution level in the national capital continues to remain ‘extremely unhealthy’ forcing many to leave the city, the Costa Rican ambassador to India, Mariela Cruz Alvarez, has moved to Bengaluru after developing respiratory illness. She recently took to Facebook to call her stay in Delhi the ‘worst experience’ of her life. “My experience of filthy air in Delhi is the worst experience I have ever had in my life. My lungs hurt, can’t breathe well. Feverish and fatigued. This is no fun and 20 millions of people are breathing that poison now up north, including some dear friends. The basic right to clean air is a Human Right. The Indian government needs to make radical decisions here in India NOW. Leadership is about taking care of the people.That is #1 priority,” Alvarez wrote.

https://www.outlookindia.com/website/story/costa-rica-ambassador-moves-to-bengaluru-to-save-herself-from-toxic-delhi-air-sa/304421

Newsline: Cuba Blames US Embassy Attacks On Cicadas

The government of Cuba claims that the array of inexplicable health problems experienced earlier this year by U.S. Embassy employees stationed on the island were triggered not by “sonic attacks,” but rather by the sounds of loud crickets and cicadas. “We compared the spectrums of the sounds and evidently this common sound is very similar to the sound of a cicada,” Lt. Col. Juan Carlos Molina, a government official, said last week on Cuban television, according to the Associated Press. These remarks were made during a half-hour, prime-time special called “Alleged Sonic Attacks.” The narrator likewise cited unnamed “North American researchers” to argue some cicada and cricket noises can produce the same symptoms experienced by U.S. Embassy employees. The broadcast looked into accusations by the administration of President Donald Trump that claimed the Cuban government orchestrated so-called “sonic attacks” against U.S. Embassy employees.

https://www.westernjournalism.com/cuba-blames-u-s-embassy-attacks-cicadas/

Newsline: Former Panamanian Embassy in London Getting Second Calling as £75M Home

A London mansion opposite the Victoria and Albert Museum that served as the Panamanian Embassy and the home of ballerina Dame Margot Fonteyn was released for sale Monday, with a price tag of £75 million (US$98.99 million). Amberwood House, in London’s swanky Knightsbridge neighborhood, served as the Panamanian Embassy between the early 1930s and late 1990s. It was the home of Fonteyn, a prima ballerina assoluta (a now rarely-used title awarded to the most notable of female ballet dancers) with the Royal Ballet, during the 1950s and 1960s, according to a news release, following her marriage to Dr. Roberto Emilio Arias in 1955, who became the Panamanian Ambassador that same year.

https://www.mansionglobal.com/articles/78943-former-panamanian-embassy-in-london-getting-second-calling-as-75m-home

Newsline: US appoints new chief for embassy in Cuba

The U.S. announced a new chief for its embassy in Cuba amid a growing diplomatic crisis between the two nations over mysterious health attacks targeting American personnel. Lawrence Gumbiner replaces the previous chargé d’affaires Scott Hamilton, who left the embassy in Havana earlier this month after Washington ordered many U.S. officials to leave the embassy after personnel reported what seemed to be sonic attacks, Reuters reported. The State Department said the attacks resulted in permanent hearing loss, balancing problems and difficulty sleeping. At the time of the attacks, the U.S. had roughly 50 people working at the embassy, according to The Associated Press, meaning that nearly half of its staff fell victim to the incidents.

http://thehill.com/policy/international/357441-us-appoints-new-chief-for-embassy-in-cuba

Newsline: Trump Says Cuba is Responsible for Incident Claimed by US Diplomats

US President Donald Trump said that he believes Cuba is responsible for the health incidents reported by US diplomats in Havana, even though his own administration ignores the cause of those incidents. During a press conference at the White House, Trump said he believes Cuba is responsible for the alleged attacks, although there is an ongoing investigation and the State Department itself does not know who or what caused the symptoms claimed by the diplomats. This situation, which according to many sources is used by the current US administration to reverse the process of normalization of the relations with Cuba, hit headlines in last August. At that time, US diplomats working at the U.S. Embassy in Havana complained of incidents that made them feel ill such as hearing loss, dizziness, headache and fatigue, something that was described by the State Department as attacks, even when the investigation into this case has not yielded results. Meanwhile, Cuba has reiterated that it has no responsibility for the incidents, stating that it follows the provisions included in the Vienna Convention of 1961 on the protection to the personal safety of diplomats and their families. In late September, the State Department decided to withdraw more than half members from the U.S. Embassy in Havana, halted the issuance of visas to Cuba, issued a travel warning to the U.S. citizens and expelled 15 Cuban diplomats from Washington.

http://www.plenglish.com/index.php?o=rn&id=19647&SEO=trump-says-cuba-is-responsible-for-incident-claimed-by-us-diplomats

Newsline: Cubans Must Now Go to Colombia to Apply to Immigrate to the USA

US diplomatic sources said that Cubans who want to immigrate to the United States, often under family reunification, will have to apply for a visa at that country’s embassy in Colombia. “Following the suspension of visa services at the US Embassy in Havana, the State Department decided that the Embassy in Bogota, Colombia, will be responsible for dealing with requests for immigration visas for residents of Cuba,” said a statement from the US Embassy in Havana. The decision is the result of Washington pulling out the majority of its diplomatic personnel stationed in Havana after denouncing alleged “sonic attacks” against its personnel in Cuba. Although Washington does not blame the Cuban government for the attacks, it does hold it accountable for failing to adequately protect its diplomats on the island. The scarce personnel that remained on the island will focus on basic diplomatic duties and consular attention to US citizens visiting Cuba. Cubans who want to apply for a migratory visa must travel to Colombia to do the process. Non-migratory visas, such as business or tourism, may be requested personally in any diplomatic delegation of the United States in third countries. The only non-migratory visas to be managed in Havana will be diplomatic, official and emergency cases for health reasons. Under a migration agreement between the two countries, since 1994 the United States agreed to grant Cubans 20,000 annual immigrant visas, which will now be very difficult to meet due to the lack of consular staff in Havana.

http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=127830