Cuba denounces U.S. decision to expel Cuban diplomats
Cuba's Foreign Minister denounced the Trump administration's announcement on Tuesday that it would expel 15 Cuban diplomats after pulling more than half of its own embassy staff out of Havana last week.
U.S.-Cuba tensions have recently escalated and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the latest decision was made due to Cuba's "failure to take appropriate steps" to protect American personnel in Cuba who have been targeted in mysterious "attacks" that have damaged their health.
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez called the U.S. order an "unjustified decision," accused the United States of insufficient cooperation with Cuba's investigation of the incidents and urged Washington to stop politicizing the matter. "The Ministry of Foreign Relations vigourously protests and denounces this unfounded and unacceptable decision, as well as the pretext used to justify it, declaring that the Cuban government did not take all adequate measures to prevent the alleged incidents," Rodriguez said.
"The information provided by the United States has brought the committee of Cuban experts to conclude that (the information) is insufficient and that the primary obstacles to clarifying the incidents have been the lack of direct access to those affected and to the doctors who examined them, the late delivery of evidence and their lack of value. The absence of reliable and testable primary information, and the impossibility of carrying out exchanges with experts from the United States with knowledge of acts of this nature and of the technology that could have been used, despite having repeatedly suggested that it was necessary to continue with the investigation," Rodriguez added.
The U.S. decision was communicated to Cuban Ambassador Jose Ramon Cabanas on Tuesday, and the diplomats were given seven days to leave, an official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
State Department officials said the expulsions were reciprocal measures - not punishment - intended to ensure that the U.S. and Cuban embassies would have "equitable staffing levels" while investigations continue into the unexplained "health attacks."