US pull embassy staff from Cuba after mysterious attacks

World Today

US pull embassy staff from Cuba after mysterious attacksStaff stand within the United States embassy facility in Havana, Cuba, Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. The United States issued an ominous warning to Americans on Friday to stay away from Cuba and ordered home more than half the U.S. diplomatic corps, acknowledging neither the Cubans nor America’s FBI can figure out who or what is responsible for months of mysterious health ailments. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)

The U.S. is withdrawing more than half its U.S. Embassy staff from Cuba. It’s in in response to some mysterious ‘attacks,’ which left several U.S. diplomats sick. Washington is also warning Americans not to travel to the island.

CGTN’s Michael Voss reports.

When the U.S. flag was raised at the newly opened American Embassy in Havana two years ago, it looked as if half a century of hostility between Cuba and the U.S. was finally coming to an end.

But these mysterious sonic attacks could be straight out of the Cold War.

For safety reasons the U.S. government has decided to send more than half of all the diplomats working in Havana back to Washington along with all family members.

The visa section will close completely, which will affect hundreds of Cubans wanting to visit relatives or go the U.S. on business or academic trips.

“With the new Trump administration, everything has been lost; everything has gone backwards,” Andres Murci, a Cuba resident, said. “We are turning back to the same thing we had before.”

The U.S. state department is also warning American citizens to avoid travel to Cuba because some of the suspected sonic attacks are believed to have taken place at hotels, though there are no reports of non-diplomats being affected.

Tourism is a major source of much needed foreign currency here and has increased significantly since the U.S. and Cuba restored diplomatic relations.

According to the U.S. State Department, twenty one American diplomats have suffered injuries ranging from long-term hearing loss to dizziness and balance and visual problems. The first incident was in October last year, the most recent in August this year and they still don’t know who is behind the attacks or what is causing the health problems.

The Cuban government denies that it is involved but says it will continue to cooperate with the investigation.

“It’s a precipitous move and will affect bilateral relations, in particular the cooperation in areas of mutual interest between the two countries,” said Josefina Vidal of Cuba’s Foreign Ministry. “Cuba desires to continue an active cooperation between the authorities of the two countries to uncover what’s happening.”

Fernando Menendez discusses US-Cuba relations

CGTN’s Elaine Reyes spoke with Fernando Menendez, senior fellow for Strategic Initiatives at the Center for a Secure Free Society about the backlash following the Trump Administration’s decision to pull its embassy workers out of Havana.