Canada Cuts its Diplomatic Presence in Cuba over Mystery Illness
January 30, 2019
Canada will reduce its diplomatic presence in Cuba by half after another of its diplomats came down with symptoms of a mysterious illness that has affected US and Canadian diplomats posted in Havana, officials said Wednesday.
This latest case brings to 14 the number of Canadian diplomats and family members who have come down with strange symptoms of what has been dubbed “Havana Syndrome.”
It includes nausea, dizziness, headaches, nosebleeds, loss of balance, hearing and vision complications, fatigue, and trouble concentrating.
The individual, who cannot be identified for privacy reasons, arrived in Havana in mid-2018 and reported symptoms on December 29, officials told reporters during a teleconference call from Ottawa.
The fact that a recently arrived diplomat reported symptoms means the undiagnosed ailment is still a threat, officials said speaking on the condition of anonymity.
“In addition to revised security measures already initiated by the Canadian government, we have decided to reduce by up to half the number of Canadian staff posted in Havana,” Global Affairs Canada said in a statement.
That would bring the number of Canadian diplomats in Cuba to eight, down from 16, officials said.
However, Canada will still have an embassy in Havana headed by an ambassador and full consular services will be available to Canadians in Cuba. It was not stated how the reduced staff would affect services to Cuban citizens.
There is no evidence that Canadian travelers to Cuba are at risk, officials said.
After recording over two dozen, still unexplained cases of illness, the US embassy reduced personnel to a skeleton staff and stopped providing services to Cuban citizens who must now go to third countries for visa interviews.
Cuban officials have offered their full cooperation in investigating the mysterious illness since the first cases surfaced in 2017, officials said.