Di­plo­mats or­dered home af­ter mys­te­ri­ous ‘at­tacks’

Boston Herald - - OBITUARIES -

WASH­ING­TON — The United States de­liv­ered an omi­nous warn­ing to Amer­i­cans yes­ter­day to stay away from Cuba and or­dered home more than half its 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.

No longer tip­toe­ing around the is­sue, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion shifted to call­ing the episodes “at­tacks” rather than “in­ci­dents.”

The U.S. ac­tions are sure to rat­tle al­ready del­i­cate ties be­tween the long­time ad­ver­saries who only re­cently be­gan putting their hos­til­ity be­hind them. The U.S. Em­bassy in Cuba will lose about 60 per­cent of its Amer­i­can staff and will stop pro­cess­ing visas for prospec­tive Cuban trav­el­ers to the United States in­def­i­nitely, of­fi­cials said. Ap­prox­i­mately 50 Amer­i­cans had been work­ing at the em­bassy.

Pres­i­dent Trump said that in Cuba “they did some very bad things” that harmed U.S. di­plo­mats, but he didn’t say who he might mean by “they.”

Though of­fi­cials ini­tially sus­pected some fu­tur­is­tic “sonic at­tack,” the pic­ture is muddy. The FBI and other agen­cies that searched homes and ho­tels where in­ci­dents oc­curred found no de­vices.

Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son, who re­viewed op­tions for a re­sponse with Trump, said, “Un­til the gov­ern­ment of Cuba can en­sure the safety of our di­plo­mats in Cuba, our em­bassy will be re­duced to emer­gency per­son­nel in or­der to min­i­mize the num­ber of di­plo­mats at risk of ex­po­sure to harm.”

In yes­ter­day’s travel warn­ing, the State Depart­ment con­firmed ear­lier re­port­ing by The As­so­ci­ated Press that U.S. per­son­nel first en­coun­tered un­ex­plained phys­i­cal ef­fects in Cuban ho­tels. At least 21 di­plo­mats and fam­ily mem­bers have been af­fected. The depart­ment said symp­toms in­clude hear­ing loss, dizzi­ness, headache, fa­tigue, cog­ni­tive is­sues and dif­fi­culty sleep­ing.

The U.S. travel warn­ing said, “Be­cause our per­son­nel’s safety is at risk, and we are un­able to iden­tify the source of the at­tacks, we be­lieve U.S. cit­i­zens may also be at risk and warn them not to travel to Cuba.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.