U.S. claims of health attacks on diplomats ‘deliberate lies,’ Cuban official says

Trump administration studies of extreme well being issues ensuing from “attacks” on U.S. diplomats in Cuba are “deliberate lies” and a pretext to roll again progress made towards normalizing relations between the 2 international locations, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez stated Thursday.

“It is high time for the United States to tell the truth or otherwise present evidence,” Rodríguez stated at a information convention in Washington. “The Cuban government has no responsibility whatsoever for these incidents,” he stated.

His feedback marked a pointy change in Cuba’s method to the costs. Immediately after a September badembly in Washington with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Rodríguez pledged Cuba’s ongoing cooperation find the reason for the mysterious diplomatic illnesses and expressed hope that the difficulty wouldn’t undermine relations.

Within the week after that go to, nevertheless, the Trump administration introduced it was dramatically decreasing the scale of the U.S. Embbady in Havana, suspending issuance of U.S. visas to Cubans there, advising Americans to not journey to the island and expelling 15 Cuban diplomats from Havana’s embbady in Washington.

The Cuban authorities has repeatedly denied any accountability for diplomatic well being issues. It has facilitated 4 visits by FBI investigation groups to the island and stated its personal investigations have turned up no obvious trigger.

The State Department has stated that 24 diplomats badigned to the embbady have suffered “attacks” that started late final yr and continued till late summer time.

It has described signs, generally verified months after the badaults, embody listening to loss, steadiness issues and traumatic mind damage. In some circumstances, personnel have been stated to have fallen in poor health after listening to uncommon noises, both of their residences or in lodges, resulting in hypothesis that they had come beneath some form of sonic badault.

While saying that victims have been “receiving comprehensive medical evaluations and care,” the State Department has not launched the names of the troubled, any particular details about their well being or outcomes of investigations to date.

Even earlier than studies of the badaults have been made public, President Trump introduced what he stated was a brand new coverage towards Cuba that might roll again lots of the strikes towards normalization undertaken in the course of the Obama administration. After greater than a half-century of estrangement, diplomatic relations between Havana and Washington have been resumed in July 2015.

Although the congressionally mandated financial embargo towards Cuba continued, President Barack Obama issued regulatory adjustments that allowed elevated industrial ties and expanded journey to Cuba by U.S. residents.

During his marketing campaign, Trump stated he would “terminate” the Obama normalization if Cuba wouldn’t reduce a “better deal” with the United States.

Rodríguez’s remarks echoed a speech he made on the United Nations this week, the place the General Assembly voted for the 26th time to sentence the continuing U.S. embargo. The United States has been alone — aside from Israel and an occasional Pacific island nation — in voting towards the measure every time.

The steps the Trump administration has taken towards Cuba, Rodríguez stated on the Thursday information convention, “have been accompanied by repeated disrespectful and offensive statements toward Cuba by the U.S. president, thus relaunching the hostile rhetoric of the periods of sharpest confrontation” between the 2 international locations.

While Cuba has supplied full cooperation and performed its personal investigation, he stated, Cuban specialists have been given no entry to “affected persons” or the diplomatic localities the place the alleged badaults occurred. Cuba, he stated, has not been given “one single source or fact” referring to the incidents, together with timelines and even elementary medical data.

Cuba’s preliminary conclusion, he stated, is “that there is no evidence whatsoever of the occurrence of the alleged incidents or the cause . . . of these ailments. . . . Neither is there any evidence suggesting that these health problems have been caused by an attack of any sort during their stay in Cuba.” Rodríguez stated he met with congressional and enterprise officers throughout his one-day cease in Washington however with nobody within the administration.

“If Havana were really an unsafe place,” Rodríguez stated, “the U.S. authorities would not have requested 212 visas for relatives and friends of diplomats between January and October, nor would [diplomats badigned to Cuba] have made more than 250 pleasure trips outside Havana.”

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