ibusinesslines.com September 24, 2018

In US : Authorities to review its probe into Cuba 'attacks' on envoys

12 January 2018, 09:33 | Erica Roy

In US : Authorities to review its probe into Cuba 'attacks' on envoys

Sen. Marco Rubio R-Fla. center confers with Sen. Ron Johnson R-Wisc. left as Sen. Bob Menendez D-N.J. far right speaks as the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere examines attacks on American diplomats in Havana on Cap

According to State Department Diplomatic Security Assistant Director Todd Brown, attacks were carried out between December 2016 and April 2017 on several residences, including two hotels.

A member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Flake has always been in favor of strengthening the USA relationship with Cuba, the goal of his visit.

The State Department waited almost one year before standing up an independent investigative panel, known as an Accountability Review Board, to probe the unexplained attacks on US personnel working in Cuba and their family members.

The Cuban government, however, has denied any involvement in the incidents or knowledge of who perpetrated the potential attacks against US diplomats.

"The hearing symptoms could be part of another attack", Brown said. Marco Rubio pushed back against claims that nearly two dozen USA diplomats in Havana were victims of an illness, not an attack by the Cuban government.

Vidal's response: "The State Department does not have any evidence that allows it to affirm that there have been attacks against its diplomats in Havana, nor that Cuba may be responsible or have knowledge of the actions of third parties".

State Department officials testified that it was "incomprehensible" Cuba's Communist government would not have been aware of what happened or who was responsible, though they stopped short of assigning direct blame to Havana.

As we've said previously, based on continued assessment of USA government personnel, 24 persons are confirmed to have experienced health effects.

Charles Rosenfarb, a doctor and director of the State Department Bureau of medical services, told senators the symptoms were mixed but consistent with brain trauma.

Sen. Cory Gardner R-Colo. left and Sen. Jeff Flake R-Ariz. confer as the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere examines attacks on American diplomats in Havana on Capitol Hill in Washington Tuesday Jan. 9 2018. (AP

Republican Senator for Arizona, Jeff Flake, who met last Friday with Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez shared the same opinion.

Rubio and Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., repeatedly pressed Acting Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere affairs Francisco Palmieri over the timing and scope of the State Department's response in Havana, and Rubio argued that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson should have set up an Accountability Review Board within 60 days of the US government learning about serious injuries suffered by USA government officials. Those symptoms included hearing loss, dizziness and cognitive issues.

"It's a documented FACT that 24 US government officials and spouses were victims of some sort of sophisticated attack with stationed in Havana", Rubio tweeted Sunday.

In late September 2017, the US ordered most of its own personnel out of Havana.

Flake, one of U.S. President Donald Trump's toughest Republican critics, announced a year ago that he would not seek re-election as Senator from Arizona.

The State Department withdrew most personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Havana last fall and expelled 17 Cuban diplomats from Washington.

Cuba has decried the reductions as an unjustified blow to U.S.

"I do not think that is a healthy posture for it to take". "People were hurt and the Cuban government knows who did it".

About two years after former U.S. President Barack Obama made a decision to deepen engagement with the Cuban government, American government personnel began showing signs "similar to what might be seen in patients following mild traumatic brain injury or concussion", testified Dr. Charles Rosenfarb, the medical director for DOS's Bureau of Medical Services.

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