After 14th Illness, Canada Pulls Staff From Cuba Embassy

Cuba calls move 'incomprehensible'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 31, 2019 3:17 AM CST
After 14th Illness, Canada Pulls Staff From Cuba Embassy
Visitors wait at the entrance of Canada's embassy in Havana, Cuba,.   (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)

Canada announced Wednesday it is removing up to half of the Canadians at its embassy in Cuba after another diplomat fell mysteriously ill. Canada has confirmed 14 cases of unexplained health problems since early 2017. Twenty-six workers at the US embassy in Cuba have also been affected, suffering a range of symptoms and diagnoses including mild traumatic brain injury, also known as concussion. Josefina Vidal, Cuba's ambassador in Canada, issued a statement saying her government considered the move "incomprehensible," but "Cuba remains committed to keeping the good state of bilateral relations," the AP reports. Canada ordered the families of diplomatic staff in Cuba to return home last April.

Global Affairs Canada said in a statement Wednesday that tests confirmed a 14th case. Canada said in November it was considering all options regarding its embassy in Cuba after a 13th case was confirmed. Canada is going from about 16 positions for Canadian staff at the Havana embassy to up to eight. Cuba has adamantly denied any involvement in the health problem. Vidal said reducing the embassy staff would "not help find answers to the health symptoms reported by Canadian diplomats," but would help "those who in the United States use this issue to attack and denigrate Cuba." A Canadian official says government officials are working closely with US officials. (One theory blames the mysterious noise involved in the illnesses on crickets.)

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