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Archive for Cuba

Newsline: U.S. says another American suffers illness at its Cuba embassy

The U.S. State Department said another person had been affected by health problems at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba, bringing to 26 the number of Americans who have suffered mysterious maladies in that country. The latest case and another confirmed on June 21 were found to involve health effects similar to those reported by other members of the U.S. Havana diplomatic community and were the first since August 2017, the department said in a statement. U.S. experts have yet to determine who or what was behind the mysterious illnesses, which began in late 2016. Cuban officials, who are conducting their own investigation, have denied any involvement or any knowledge of what was behind it. The State Department statement said the two cases confirmed this month “result from a single occurrence in late May in a diplomatic residence in which both officers were present.” They raised the number of Americans affected to 26, it said.



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: Reduced US Embassy Staff In Havana Hinders Travel By Cubans

The chilled relations between Cuba and the White House has left the U.S. embassy running on a shoe-string operation. Cubans hoping to travel to the U.S. must now apply in a third country for visas. Cuba may have a new president whose name is not Castro, but chilly relations between the United States and the communist government on that island aren’t expected to thaw any time soon. President Trump has rolled back parts of what he called the Obama administration’s one-sided deal with Cuba. And then the U.S. Embassy is nearly empty, following unexplained health problems affecting American personnel there.


Newsline: Canada sending home families of diplomats in Cuba after cases of ‘new type’ of brain injury

Canada is designating Cuba an “unaccompanied post” — meaning diplomats’ families will not be allowed to live with them in the country during a posting — because of new information about mysterious symptoms suffered by Canadian and U.S. diplomats and their families.Canadian diplomatic staff in Havana were informed of the decision Monday morning. The federal government has made arrangements to bring family members home in the coming weeks. Ten Canadians in Cuba have experienced symptoms — including headaches, dizziness, nausea and difficulty concentrating — according to government officials who briefed reporters in Ottawa Monday. A new report by a Canadian medical specialist raises the possibility that some of the Canadians have experienced a “new type of possible acquired brain injury.” A senior government official said that this injury is new to science. “The cause remains unknown but could be human-made,” said a media release from Global Affairs. Officials said that some of those who seemed to recover have since seen the symptoms reassert themselves. The RCMP is investigating the illness reports.


Newsline: Zambia asks Cuba to recall ambassador for backing new opposition party

Zambia has asked Cuba to recall its ambassador for openly supporting the newly launched opposition Socialist Party, the president’s spokesman said on Sunday. Amos Chanda said ambassador Nelson Pages Vilas spoke at the party’s launch on Saturday. Political tensions were rekindled in Zambia last month when the country’s main opposition party, the United Party for National Development (UPND), filed a motion seeking to impeach President Edgar Lungu over accusations of breaching the constitution. The UPND challenged Lungu’s 2016 election victory in court, alleging fraud, arguing that that obliged him to hand over power to parliament’s speaker until the court considered its petition. Lungu has denied electoral fraud. He directed that the Cuban ambassador be recalled “for behavior unbecoming of a diplomat,” Chanda told a media briefing, adding that diplomatic ties with Cuba would be retained.


Newsline: Cuba condemns US cuts to embassy staff over ‘health attacks’

A senior Cuban official is condemning Washington’s decision to make the withdrawal of 60 percent of the U.S. Embassy staff permanent in response to mysterious ailments affecting American diplomats. Carlos Fernandez de Cossio says the decision is motivated by politics and has nothing to do with the safety of diplomats. The new director of U.S. issues at the ministry told reporters Monday that the cuts will hurt consular services and make travel more difficult for ordinary citizens. He says it may also erode long-standing cooperation on migration. The State Department made the cuts permanent last week. It initially scaled back staff in October in response to hearing loss and other ailments affecting at least 24 U.S. citizens. U.S. investigators have not determined a cause and Cuba denies any wrongdoing.