The U.S. Department of State ordered 15 Cuban officials from the embassy in Washington, D.C., to leave the country.
Only days ago, the United States and Cuba maintained dozens of diplomats in newly reopened embassies in Havana and Washington, powerful symbols of a warming relationship between longtime foes. Following unexplained "covert sonic device" attacks on envoys from both the US and Canada that were stationed in Havana, the US State Department is pulling more than half of its staff out of Cuba, and warning travellers of potential danger.
Officials say the United States has confirmed another victim of the mysterious attacks plaguing us personnel in Cuba, raising the total to 22 Americans. The US said it made the decision after Havana failed to protect US diplomats from the attacks.
A state department official said the move to expel roughly 60 percent of the Cuban diplomats in the U.S. capital was "not a change of policy". Nevertheless, U.S. authorities have not explained how Cuba can do that if investigations have not revealed the causes of the injuries.
The State Department has not disclosed the size of its mission in Cuba.
"American diplomats need to remain on the field and in the game".
Cuba's Embassy in Washington did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
The steps being taken by President Donald Trump´s administration mark a further blow to his predecessor Barack Obama´s policy of rapprochement between Washington and Havana, former Cold War foes.
Following Trump's decisions on this issue, several voices described the U.S. State Department's measures as excessive and alerted how unsafe it would be for the normalization process of bilateral relations.
"Anyone who has interacted Cuba, been to Cuba or has anything to do with Cuba understands that very little happens in Havana that the Cuban government doesn't know about, especially Americans working for the State Department", Rubio said on CBS's Face the Nation.
"Cuba has never perpetrated, nor will it ever perpetrate attacks of any sort against diplomatic officials or their relatives", Rodríguez Parrilla said at a news conference in Havana.
Despite intensive investigative efforts made by the Cuban and the USA sides, the cause and perpetrators of the attacks remain unknown.
Britain's Cuba Solidarity Campaign (CSC) spoke out after U.S. officials leaked government plans ordering Havana to cut staff at the embassy by 60 per cent.
State Department officials first disclosed what they called "incidents" this summer, but the announcement Friday described them for the first time as "specific attacks" that targeted US officials.
Top Cuban officials, including Cuban President Raul Castro, have denied any Cuban involvement in the incidents and allowed the Federal Bureau of Investigation to travel to the island earlier in the summer to investigate. "We have a mission to do, and we're used to operating with serious health risks in many environments, whether it's parasites that rip up our guts in Africa, exposure to Zika virus and dengue fever, or air pollution in China and India", Stephenson said.
For those staying and new arrivals, the USA has been giving instructions about what to watch and listen for to identify an attack in progress.
"At this time, the USA embassy in Havana should be downgraded to an interests section and we should be prepared to consider additional measures against the Castro regime if these attacks continue", he added.