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Archive for 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

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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

Newsline: New audio adds to mystery of attacks on US diplomats in Cuba

A new audio recording said to capture what was heard by some US embassy workers amid a series of attacks on American diplomats in Cuba is adding another layer of intrigue around the mysterious incidents that sickened at least 22 US diplomats and family members. The recording — obtained by The Associated Press — is the first publicly reported audio sample said to be related to attacks that, according to a US official, may have involved the use of an acoustic device. The device was so sophisticated, it was outside the range of audible sound, the official said. And it was so damaging, the source said, that one US diplomat now needs to use a hearing aid. But what remains unknown is what kind of device may have been used, where exactly it was placed, and who put it there.

http://edition.cnn.com/2017/10/13/politics/cuba-us-diplomats-acoustic-weapons/index.html

Newsline: Some US visitors to Cuba complain of symptoms similar to embassy ‘attacks’

A “handful” of private U.S. citizens who traveled to Cuba say they have experienced symptoms similar to those suffered by American diplomats in mysterious health “attacks” in Havana, the U.S. State Department said. A State Department spokesperson, who declined to be named, said the agency could not verify the claims but said travelers should heed its travel warning issued last Friday. The warning urged Americans to stay away from Cuba because of unexplained health “attacks” it says have caused hearing loss, dizziness, fatigue and cognitive issues among at least 22 diplomatic personnel. The Trump administration on Tuesday expelled 15 Cuban diplomats to protest Cuba’s failure to protect staff at the U.S. embassy in the communist country, just days after Washington recalled more than half the U.S. diplomatic personnel from Havana. Cuba has denied involvement, and Washington has not directly blamed the government in Havana. So far, no probes have yielded any answers about how the alleged attacks were carried out or who was responsible. The warning said the attacks had occurred in “diplomatic residences and hotels frequented by U.S. citizens.” CBS News first reported that some private citizens had complained of symptoms after visiting Cuba. On Friday, the U.S. embassy in Havana identified the Hotel Nacional and Hotel Capri as the two places where it said embassy personnel had been targeted over the past few months, and said the U.S. government had “imposed limitations on lodging” there.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-cuba-diplomacy/some-u-s-visitors-to-cuba-complain-of-symptoms-similar-to-embassy-attacks-u-s-idUSKBN1CB2VA?il=0

Newsline: US expulsion of Cuban diplomats includes all business officers

The Cuban diplomats expelled from the United States this week included all those dealing with U.S. businesses, Cuba’s embassy in Washington told Reuters, dealing another blow to bilateral commercial ties. In an escalating crisis between the Cold War foes, the Trump administration on Tuesday expelled 15 diplomats to protest Communist-run Cuba’s failure to protect U.S. embassy staff in Havana from a mysterious spate of alleged health attacks. “Due to this decision, the activities developed by the Economic and Trade Office of the Embassy of Cuba to the United States … will be seriously affected,” one Cuban diplomat said in a farewell message to a U.S. group that takes investors to the Caribbean’s largest island. The Cuban embassy is often the first step in the process for U.S. companies to explore opportunities and make a pitch. Officials help them submit a trip proposal, seek out counterparts at state-owned enterprises in the centralized economy, and receive a business visa to travel to Havana. Whether the embassy will still be issuing such visas remains unclear, given one diplomat will remain in the consular section.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-cuba-usa/u-s-expulsion-of-cuban-diplomats-includes-all-business-officers-idUSKBN1CA2TS

Newsline: Canada says has no plans to remove embassy staff from Cuba

Canada has no plans to change its travel advice for Cuba or to remove any Canadian staff from its embassy there, though some staff have experienced some unusual symptoms, a spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Friday. “Some of our diplomatic staff and their family members started to experience unusual symptoms in March 2017, including earaches, dizziness and headaches,” said Adam Austen. “All of the personnel who experienced symptoms underwent testing in Canada and the U.S. and the cause of the symptoms remains unknown. We have been working closely with Cuban authorities to ascertain the cause. We continue to monitor the situation closely and we have no plans to travel advice or remove any staff,” Austen added. The United States on Friday cut its diplomatic presence in Cuba by more than half and warned U.S. citizens not to visit because of mysterious “attacks” that have caused hearing loss, dizziness and fatigue in U.S. embassy personnel.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-cuba-canada/canada-says-has-no-plans-to-remove-embassy-staff-from-cuba-idUSKCN1C430Z?il=0

Newsline: US to slash embassy staff in Cuba, warns travelers of hotel attacks

The United States is yanking more than half its diplomatic personnel from its embassy in Havana and warning Americans not to visit Cuba, saying it is for their own safety after a string of mysterious injuries harmed at least 21 Americans stationed there. Senior State Department officials said embassy employees have been “targeted” for “specific attacks,” a significant change from previous characterizations of what happened as simply “incidents.” “We have no reports that private U.S. citizens have been affected, but the attacks are known to have occurred in U.S. diplomatic residences and hotels frequented by U.S. citizens,” said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a statement. “The Department does not have definitive answers on the cause or source of the attacks and is unable to recommend a means to mitigate exposure.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/reports-us-to-slash-embassy-staff-in-cuba-warn-travelers-of-hotel-attacks/2017/09/29/c0bf9d94-a523-11e7-b14f-f41773cd5a14_story.html?utm_term=.cd7c02755af1