U.S. scales back Cuba mission after ‘mystery’ attacks

Its embassy staff will not be joined by their families

March 03, 2018 10:12 pm | Updated 10:12 pm IST - Washington

The U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba.

The U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba.

The U.S. is to permanently scale back its mission to Cuba after what it alleges were series of mystery “attacks” on its diplomats, the State Department said on Friday.

The Havana embassy had already been operating with a reduced staff since September 2017, when diplomats and family members were evacuated after suffering brain injuries.

‘Unaccompanied post’

This “ordered departure status” expired on Saturday but, rather than re-staffing as before, the embassy will now be declared an “unaccompanied post” where staff are not joined by families.

“The embassy will continue to operate with the minimum personnel necessary to perform core diplomatic and consular functions, similar to the level of emergency staffing maintained during ordered departure,” the department said.

Cuba’s government has denied that it had anything to do with any attack on U.S. personnel, and U.S. officials have been unable to determine the cause of the injuries.

Havana also accused Washington on Friday of scaling back its mission for political reasons, not security concerns.

This decision “is politically motivated and has nothing to do with the safety of U.S. officials in Havana”, said Carlos Fernandez de Cossio, U.S. director of Cuba’s Foreign Relations Ministry.

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