HAVANA, Cuba (ACN) – Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla has described the decision by the US government to expel 15 diplomats from the island’s mission in Washington as unfounded and unacceptable.
Speaking to more than 60 national and international media, he said that the US decision is a political reprisal, which uses as a pretext that the Cuban government did not take all appropriate measures to prevent the alleged incidents that US officials on the island have been suffering since November 2016.
He emphasized that the measure announced by the United States government, without conclusive investigative results or evidence of the incidents affecting its officials in Cuba, is arbitrary and has mainly political objectives.
The minister urged US officials not to continue to politicize this issue, which he warned could lead to an undesirable escalation, and further set back bilateral relations, already affected by the new policy announcement last June by President Donald Trump.
From the headquarters of the ministry of foreign affairs, Rodriguez Parrilla said that this is the second time, after May 23 last, that the State Department has ordered two Cuban diplomats to leave the US, when the Trump administration responded in a hasty, inappropriate manner and unreflective, and without evidence about the facts invoked.
He emphasized that Cuba has no responsibility in the alleged attacks, nor does it possess or is familiar with the technology that has been speculated caused the afflictions, in addition to that the government never allowed, nor will it, the use of the national territory for acts against any state or its representatives.
The foreign ministry regretted that the measures taken by the United States have been rushed, since the investigation has not been concluded and, so far, neither Cuban experts nor the United States have found evidence to indicate who is responsible for the alleged incidents.
The new measure not only affects diplomatic ties, particularly cooperation on issues of mutual interest, and exchanges of various kinds, but also hundreds of thousands of Cubans living on either side of the Florida Straits.
On this last subject he answered a question from the Cuban News Agency that the situation of the Cuban embassy in Washington is extremely precarious, since only one official was left to provide consular services.
Cuba complies seriously and rigorously with its obligations under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations with respect to the protection of the integrity of diplomatic agents accredited to the country and their families, without exception, he said.
He said that, since the alleged attacks became known, the protection measures of US diplomats, their families and residences have been reinforced, new channels of communication were opened and a committee of experts was created for the comprehensive analysis of the facts, made up of police, medical and scientific authorities.
The United States Embassy only gave some information on the alleged incidents when, after February 21, Cuban President Raul Castro personally reiterated to the charge d’affairs of the US mission the importance of sharing more information and cooperating with the Cuban authorities.
However, the data provided continued to lack descriptions or details that would facilitate the characterization of the facts or the identification of possible perpetrators, if there were any, the official added.
He reiterated Cuba’s willingness to continue investigations into these events, under any conditions, and demanded more active and efficient cooperation from the United States authorities.
He complained that Cuban experts have not been allowed to visit the residences where the alleged attacks allegedly occurred, nor have doctors and scientists on the island been permitted access to those affected or to the personnel who treated them in the United States.
According to reports by the US news agency AP, referring to an anonymous source within the US government, among the first affected were members of intelligence agencies that worked under diplomatic cover in the Cuban capital.
The minister emphasised that Cuba has never used diplomatic cover to carry out intelligence work in the United States and stressed that none of the 15 expelled officials had carried out such work.
Before concluding, the minister said that, if the US government applied the same diplomatic standards it uses with Cuba, it would be closing dozens of its diplomatic missions in the rest of the world right now.
The US government also issued an alert advising Americans not to travel to the island due to the alleged attacks and suspended the issue of visas in Havana for an indefinite period, without providing further details.
While there is no single evidence of the alleged assaults, the United States has described the symptoms suffered by its personnel as: ear discomfort and hearing loss, dizziness, headaches, fatigue, cognitive disorders and difficulty sleeping.
The Cuban minister’s remarks came a week after he met with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, when they discussed the allegations of assaults on US personnel in Havana and Rodriguez Parrilla warned his counterpart not to make hasty decisions that are not supported by evidence or conclusive research results.
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla speaks to the national and foreign press on Cuba-US relations at the Cuban Foreign Ministry’s Headquarters on October 3, 2017. Photo: ACN/Marcelino Vazquez Hernandez