Frosty bilateral relations got frostier. In August, on the pretext of harmful physical symptoms experienced by US embassy personnel in Havana, the Trump administration expelled two Cuban diplomats from the country’s embassy in Washington.
At the time, Cuba’s Foreign Ministry stressed its government “has never, nor would it ever, allow that the Cuban territory be used for any action against accredited diplomatic agents or their families.”
It reiterated “its willingness to cooperate in the clarification of this situation.” Cuba justifiably objects being lectured to by the world’s leading aggressor/human rights abuser about its diplomatic obligations, human rights or anything else.
“The United States is not in a position to give us lessons,” its Foreign Ministry said. It objected to the expulsion of its citizens.
Add 15 more to their numbers. On Tuesday, the Trump administration expelled them, following Washington’s move to cut its Havana embassy staff by a proportional number, allegedly in response to a mysterious illness Cuba had nothing to do with.
Irresponsibly blaming its government along with expelling its diplomats further sours relations.
Neocon Senator Marco Rubio applauded the move, deplorably calling it “the right decision.”
On Monday, AP News reported the following:
“…US spies were among the first and most severely affected victims. Though bona fide diplomats have also been affected, it wasn’t until intelligence operatives, working under diplomatic cover, reported bizarre sounds and even stranger physical effects that the United States realized something was wrong, several individuals familiar with the situation said.”
Last week, the Trump administration warned Americans to stay away from Cuba, falsely saying they risked being attacked in Havana, the warning targeting the country’s travel industry.
The State Department said Cuba’s ambassador to Washington was informed of the expulsions Tuesday morning by telephone. Affected diplomatic staff must leave in seven days.
Rex Tillerson issued a statement, saying Cuban personnel were expelled because their government “fail(ed) to take appropriate steps to protect our diplomats in accordance with its obligations under the Vienna Convention. (T)his order will ensure equity in our respective diplomatic operations.”
Cuba did nothing to make US diplomatic staff ill. Washington earlier admitted it, calling what happened “incidents,” avoiding the word “attacks.”
Last week, things changed, the Trump administration claiming what happened was deliberate, offering no evidence proving it.
Cuba wasn’t accused of complicity in what happened, Tillerson saying
“(w)e continue to maintain diplomatic relations with Cuba, and will continue to cooperate with Cuba as we pursue the investigation into these attacks.”
What caused the illnesses remains a mystery. There’s nothing mysterious about US hostility toward Cuba for nearly 60 years – because of its anti-imperialism and sovereign independence.
My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
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