The U.S. State Department announced Tuesday it will expel 15 Cuban diplomats from the embassy in Washington. They must leave the country within seven days. Half of the American personnel in the U.S. Embassy in Havana last week was required to leave by next weekend. These measures come as an attempt to emphasize to the Cuban government that it must protect the American diplomats from mysterious attacks that have caused unexplained injuries to them and their families.

Although the United States does not blame Cuba for what the State Department considers “specific attacks”, the Trump Administration wants to make it clear that it is Cuba’ responsibility to take more actions to shield the U.S. personnel from the unexplained injuries.

Cuban diplomats expelled from the US, US expels Cuban diplomats
Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez described Washington’s decision as ‘unjustified’ Image credit: Reuters

Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson said in a press release that Cuba had failed to take the proper measures to protect the Americans according to its duties under the Vienna Convention, as reported by The New York Times.

All the injuries occurred in the last 10 months are related

At least 22 officials in Havana have had symptoms such as hearing loss and cognitive disorders presumably caused by some sort of sonic device, toxin or virus. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and a separate Cuba investigation have failed to determine what or who is behind the attacks that have injured the American diplomats for the past 10 months.

The U.S. officials have reportedly been “targeted” in hotels or in their residences with Cuba-owned compounds. The latest incident was reported on Monday, when the State Department confirmed one more victim who is thought to have been attacked in January, according to a report by The Washington Post.

Cuban diplomats expelled from the US, US expels Cuban diplomats
The specific number of U.S. personnel to leave Havana is unclear but it’s about the same number of diplomats leaving Washington. Image credit: Reuters

The American diplomats will be prohibited to return to Cuba until Raul Castro’s government can ensure a safe environment for them. Nevertheless, U.S. authorities have not explained how Cuba can do that if investigations have not revealed the causes of the injuries.

“It is not for us to outline a set of criteria to ensure that environment. We are making it clear that the safety and well-being of our people is being affected by these health attacks. We can no longer expose them to the environment down there,” said the U.S. official assigned to inform reporters about the measures, as quoted by The Washington Post.

The American diplomats may have been the victims of a “sonic attack”, as The Washington Post reported. Another possibility is that a third country might be trying to create tension between Cuba and the United States only two years after they ended 50 years of hostilities.

The State Department issued last Friday a travel warning to all American visitors, who were strongly advised to stay away from Cuba because the Havana government could not ensure their safety. It also temporarily suspended issuing visas to Cubans.

Tillerson clarified that diplomatic relations between the two countries will continue during the investigations into the mysterious attacks, according to The New York Times.

Source: The Washington Post