The US government on Tuesday ordered 15 Cuban Embassy diplomats to leave the country in response to the alleged acoustic attacks targeting American diplomats in Cuba.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement that 15 diplomats are being expelled from the Cuban embassy in Washington "due to Cuba's failure to take appropriate steps to protect our diplomats in accordance with its obligations under the Vienna Convention.
This order will ensure equity in our respective diplomatic operations," Tillerson said, Efe news reported.
The reduction affects almost two-thirds of Cuban Embassy personnel in Washington, though the State Department has not wished to confirm the percentage of Cuban diplomats affected. The State Department has provided the Cuban ambassador in Washington, Jose Ramon Cabañas, with a list of the 15 diplomats who must leave the United States within the next seven days, according to a US diplomat who asked to remain anonymous.
The diplomat also said that the expulsion "does not signal a change of policy or determination of responsibility for the attacks. We are maintaining diplomatic relations with Havana." For his part, Tillerson said the US "will continue to maintain diplomatic relations with Cuba, and will continue to cooperate with Cuba as we pursue the investigation into these attacks" on American diplomats.
Last Friday, the State Department ordered the withdrawal of most of its personnel from Cuba on grounds that it could not guarantee their safety on the island.
The US government has raised to 22 the number of US personnel in Cuba who have experienced such symptoms as hearing loss, dizziness, headache, fatigue, cognitive issues, and difficulty sleeping, due to the alleged acoustic attacks.