The baffling injuries suffered by US diplomats in Cuba resulted in two big moves by the White House on Friday: The US is yanking more than half its staff from the embassy in Havana, leaving only "essential" personnel in place, and it's warning Americans not to travel to Cuba, reports the AP. The US has 21 confirmed cases over the past year in which people suffered ailments ranging from nausea to hearing loss to motor skills impairment after being exposed to something along the lines of noise or vibrations at their Cuban-supplied residences. Nobody's been able to figure out what's been happening, and Cuba has emphatically denied being responsible. Details:
- Not Cuba? Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had considered shutting the embassy entirely, but he took a lesser step for now because the US is beginning to think that an unnamed third country is to blame for the apparent attacks, and not Cuba, reports the New York Times. A report at McClatchy quoted US sources saying the same. "No one believes the Cubans are responsible," says one.
- No visas: The move means that Cubans looking to visit relatives in America are out of luck trying to get a visa, reports the Miami Herald. It's not clear how this will be resolved, but the US might somehow have them get visas from embassies in other countries.
- American tourists: The warning against travel could hit Cuba's tourism industry, notes the Washington Post. About 615,000 Americans visited last year, part of a general uptick in tourism in the nation. Because at least one of the "sonic" incidents happened at a hotel, the US doesn't consider the country safe for tourists, period.
- Tillerson meeting: A meeting this week between Tillerson and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Eduardo Rodriguez Parrilla did little to ease American concerns, reports CBS News. "There is no evidence so far of the cause or the origin of the health disorders reported by the US diplomats," said a Cuban readout issued afterward. The readout also denied that Cuba had "perpetrated" any such attacks and said "third parties" would never be allowed to do so on Cuban soil either.
- Rubio angry: Marco Rubio thinks the US is being too soft on Havana, tweeting that it was "shameful" the White House did not order Cuba to reduce its embassy staff in Washington. In another tweet, he blamed the Castro regime for allowing the attacks to take place.
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