Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez said this Tuesday that the measure announced by the Department of State of expelling 15 Cuban diplomats from Washington, “without the conclusive results of the investigation,” has “an eminently political” character.
In a press conference held in the venue of the Foreign Ministry, Rodríguez urged the U.S. government “not to continue politicizing” this matter, which “can provoke an undesirable escalation and would rarify and reverse even more bilateral relations.”
The U.S. government “is responsible for the present and possible future deterioration of bilateral relations.”
The Cuban foreign minister said that the U.S. decision is “unfounded” and “unacceptable” like the pretext used to justify it. “It is not a measure of reciprocity, because there hasn’t been a Cuban measure to reciprocate,” he said.
“There isn’t a single evidence about the occurrence of the alleged incidents or of its causes,” he insisted.
He pointed out, as he did days before in the United Nations, that the Cuban government “categorically” rejects any responsibility in the alleged matters and reaffirmed that the island “has never perpetrated, nor will it ever perpetrate attacks of any sort against diplomatic officials or their relatives, without any exception.”
“Neither has it ever allowed nor will it ever allow its territory to be used by third parties with that purpose,” he added.
Rodríguez reiterated the Cuban authorities’ disposition of fostering a “serious and objective cooperation” with its U.S. counterparts “with the purpose of clarifying these facts” and requested a “more effective” cooperation by the U.S.
Not a particle of evidence
During the press conference, the Cuban foreign minister listed the facts and investigations carried out by the island’s government to discover what occurred. He assured that in his meeting with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson the latter “did not contribute an iota of conclusive information” about the “attacks.”
It is “science fiction, futurism…,” he said referring to the content of the reports leaked by the Department of State to the press. “Gibberish, it is a rhetoric that tries to hide the lack of conclusive results,” he added.
He affirmed that the Cuban authorities “have acted with utmost seriousness, professionalism and immediacy” and that the investigation made has been “exhaustive” and “a priority.”
Moreover, he affirmed that since the notification of the “incidents” by the Department of State “measures adopted to protect the US diplomatic staff, their relatives and residences were reinforced” and “new expeditious communication channels were established” with the U.S.
However, Rodríguez regretted “the belated, fragmented and insufficient information” supplied by the U.S. government, in the face of which they were asked for details on several occasions during the investigation.
“Only after repeated requests were conveyed to the U.S. Government, some representatives of specialized agencies of that country finally traveled to Havana,” explained the minister, who said that the island’s authorities granted the U.S. experts “all the facilities” and assessed as “positive” the three visits made by them in the months of June, August and September.
The Cuban foreign minister affirmed that the Cuban investigators – among them physicians, scientists and police authorities – were not given permission to examine the U.S. citizens affected by the alleged attacks, nor to exchange with the U.S. physicians who cared for them nor visit the places where the events hypothetically took place.
This absence of “reliable first-hand and verifiable” information has been, in the opinion of the minister, “the main obstacle to clarify the incidents” by the Cuban experts, who – as a preliminary result – have concluded that “according to the available information and the data provided by the United States, there is no evidence of the occurrence of alleged incidents, nor the causes and origin of the effects on health notified by the U.S. diplomats and their relatives.”
The island’s investigators point out that neither “have the possible authors or persons with motivations, intentions or means to carry out this type of actions been identified.”
“There isn’t a particle of evidence,” affirmed Rodríguez Parrilla.
Only one Cuban consular official remains in Washington
The Cuban consulate in the United States will remain with only one official to attend to the island’s large community in that country, said Bruno Rodríguez, who denounced the “situation of extraordinary precariousness” of the diplomatic venue after the expulsion of the majority of its personnel.
“How can the impact on the issues of family reunification and the granting of visas be assessed after this has been done, if almost all the consular services in Havana and Washington were to be brusquely cut?” asked the head of Cuban diplomacy.
Sources from the island’s Foreign Ministry confirmed to the EFE news agency that once the diplomats come back in a week there will remain in Washington only eight officials out of the 23 who originally worked in the Cuban mission, reopened a bit over two years ago.
This is something that will be “regrettably” repeated in Havana, where the U.S. embassy indefinitely suspended the paperwork for the application of visas and will only maintain services for emergency cases.
Rodríguez also “categorically” affirmed that “ever since the creation of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington (1977) until now the Cuban diplomatic officials have never carried out nor are they carrying out intelligence activities.”
“They have not done so, none of the diplomatic officials on the list of the (U.S.) Department of State who have been ordered to leave the country have done so,” he added.
“Cuba has not adopted any measure against the United States”
In relation to the health of bilateral relations after the most recent decisions of the Department of State, the foreign minister recalled that “Cuba has adopted no measure against the United States” and has favored “a respectful course” for the dialogue between the two countries.
Rodríguez affirmed that the withdrawal of part of the U.S. diplomatic personnel from Havana and the expulsion of the 15 Cuban officials in Washington does “affect and will affect” bilateral relations, and pointed out that the U.S. government is responsible for this reversal.
He affirmed that the departure of the Cuban diplomats from the United States leaves consular operations in “extreme precariousness,” since only one official will remain to attend to them.
However, he did not specify how much the paperwork of the Americans and resident Cubans who wish to travel to the island could be affected, and said the Department of State is the one who should answer for the damages that the measures suppose for the family reunification processes and the temporary and definitive visas as part of the migration agreements.
The minister referred to statements by officials of the Department of State leaked by the U.S. press “with political motives” and regretted the “lack of seriousness” of the focus used by them to deal with what happened.
This is, he said, “an incomprehensible rhetoric” that “tries to hide the lack of data and evidence.”
He also considered incomprehensible that only now was the existence of a new affected diplomat revealed – the number 22, according to the U.S. authorities -, when his alleged effects date back to the month of January.
Finally he ensured that none of the island’s now expelled diplomats have carried out “intelligence actions” on U.S. territory, as “some media” have suggested.
EFE / OnCuba