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Interview: US measures against Cuba negative, arbitrary, says analyst

30 September 2017

In the meanwhile, the Department has ordered all US nonemergency government employees and their families to leave the island.

In a blow to recent improvements in relations between the two countries, the U.S. State Department is is warning Americans against visiting Cuba, and is reportedly planning to pull much of its staff out of the American embassy in Havana. "Any reduction of Americans from @USEmbassyHavana should also require equal number of Castro employees leaving regime's embassy in US", he said in a message on Twitter.

According to The Washington Post, officials are now acknowledging at least 21 Americans stationed at the Cuban embassy have suffered symptoms that include "hearing loss, dizziness, tinnitus, balance problems, visual difficulties, headaches, fatigue, cognitive issues and sleeping difficulties".

"We acknowledge the efforts the Cuban government has made to investigate and its cooperation in facilitating the USA investigation", a State Department official said.

On Friday, the US State Department ordered the departure of non-emergency personnel assigned to its embassy in Havana, as well as all family members.

Tillerson added that the department has issued a warning to all American citizens "to avoid travel to Cuba".

On Friday, a senior State Department official said the "targeted attacks" affected 21 people, and at least some occurred in hotels.

"We don't have any definitive conclusions regarding cause, source, or any kind of technologies that have been engaged or might have been used", a State Department official said.

However, a Cuban government source told Reuters that the United States had provided no evidence of the harm, including hearing loss, dizziness and nausea, that it says USA diplomats and their relatives based in Havana have suffered.

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The statement came after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Eduardo Rodriguez Parrilla in Washington. Officials are citing "security concerns", but in practice this is likely more about keeping control of the narrative on why US-Cuba relations are once again heading south.

Rubio helped forge Trump's new Cuba policy, rolling back parts of the detente achieved under Democratic former President Barack Obama and taking a harder line on the Communist-run island. Cuban officials have denied allegations that such attacks are being committed by the government and because some Canadian diplomats have experienced symptoms as well. USA investigators still do not know what or who is behind the attacks, the AP report said.

After the meeting, Cuban diplomats have been tweeting their governments positiosn and sharing stories by the official Cuban press on the subject. USA and Canadian officials said Canadian embassy personnel has suffered similar health problems.

The official said: "We don't know the means, the methods or how the attacks are being carried out".

USA authorities first suspected a supersonic device as the cause of the injuries, but investigators have not found any concrete evidence of such.

Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Treasury Department, Seth Unger, told Fox News in an email earlier this week that OFAC did indeed initiate the process "immediately", but simply has not yet produced the necessary amendments to the regulations on Cuba.

The embassy reopened in 2015 after more than 50 years of no diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Rubio is one of five senators on the Intelligence Committee who two weeks ago called on the Trump administration to expel Cuban diplomats from Washington and threaten to shutter the US embassy in Havana if the Cuban government is not more forthcoming about the mysterious attacks that have seriously harmed American diplomats.

"No surprise to me, what surprises me is that we continue to go there and open the embassy in there", said Elaine Fandino, a member of the Cuban-American Club in West Palm Beach.

Interview: US measures against Cuba negative, arbitrary, says analyst