The United States will withdraw most of its staff from its embassy in Havana following mysterious sonic attacks that have caused several health problems to about 20 diplomats, a us government source confirmed to El Nuevo Herald on Friday.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was quick to emphasize that the United States and Cuba will continue to "maintain diplomatic relations".
On Tuesday, Tillerson met with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez to discuss the incidents. Neither country disclosed publicly that the incidents were occurring, even after Washington in May expelled two Cuban diplomats to protest Havana's failure to protect Americans on its soil. Following instructions from the top level of the Cuban government, a priority investigation was opened as from the moment these incidents were first reported and additional measures were adopted to protect the U.S. diplomats and their relatives. Some possible theories put the blame on rogue elements of Cuba's security services, or on a third party like Russian Federation that doesn't want US-Cuban relations to improve.
American Tour Operators in Cuba (ATOC), that now counts more than 50 USA companies, criticized the travel warning.
The U.S. investigation, led by the FBI, is ongoing.
Another senior U.S. State Department official participating in the conference call said that it doesn't appear that anyone other than the U.S. diplomats were affected, including other hotel patrons and Cuban nationals working at the embassy.
Contacted for comment Friday, JetBlue, which began offering flights to Cuba in August 2016, said it was unaware of the State Department's guidance. "So Castro regime allows attacks on Americans forcing us to drawdown to keep them safe but he gets to keep about same # of people here", he asked.
"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.
American officials are also warning Americans about traveling to Cuba, saying, "We can not rule out, given the nature of these attacks, that the American public traveling in Cuba might not also be at risk as well".
Vidal reiterated on State television the will of the Cuban government to continue "active cooperation between the authorities of the countries", which restored diplomatic relations in 2015.
Cuban dissidents have repeatedly urged the Trump administration to shut down the USA embassy in Cuba and the Cuban embassy in Washington, arguing that legitimizing the Castro regime has significant negative repercussions for Cuban pro-democracy dissidents, who face state violence on a regular basis. In contrast, in Cuba, "they have no evidence to indicate that USA travelers at risk during their visits to Cuba".
President Donald Trump weighed in Friday, telling reporters: "Some very bad things happened in Cuba". On Friday, Rubio tweeted that the Cuban embassy in Washington DC should be closed as well. He added that Miami is best-suited to capture travel demand from the U.S.to Cuba because more than 50 percent of Cuban-Americans reside in Miami-Dade County.