Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced Friday that America would withdraw all “non-emergency personnel” from the U.S. embassy in Cuba and all family members following months of unexplained attacks on American diplomats that have left some with hearing loss and, reportedly, brain damage.
“On September 29, the Department ordered the departure of non-emergency personnel assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Havana, as well as all family members,” Tillerson said in a statement. “Until the Government of Cuba can ensure the safety of our diplomats in Cuba, our Embassy will be reduced to emergency personnel in order to minimize the number of diplomats at risk of exposure to harm.”
Tillerson added that the department has issued a warning to all American citizens “to avoid travel to Cuba.” While emphasizing that those affected by the attacks in question have only been diplomats and residents, the statement noted that the locations where the attacks occurred are also “frequented by U.S. citizens.”
“The Department does not have definitive answers on the cause or source of the attacks and is unable to recommend a means to mitigate exposure,” Tillerson said. Unlike remarks by spokeswoman Heather Nauert on the matter, Tillerson refers to them as “attacks;” Nauert told reporters Thursday she preferred the word “incidents.”
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