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Canada cuts staff in Cuba embassy

Canada has announced it is removing up to half of the Canadians at its embassy in Cuba after another diplomat was found to have fallen mysteriously ill

Feb 01

11:30
2019

Canada has announced it is removing up to half of the Canadians at its embassy in Cuba after another diplomat was found to have fallen mysteriously ill. Canada has confirmed 14 cases of mysterious health problems since early 2017.

Global Affairs Canada said in a statement on 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.

Canada ordered the families of diplomatic staff in Cuba to return home last April. The 14 Canadians affected includes diplomats and some of their family members.

A senior Canadian government official said in a briefing for journalists that the latest case involves a diplomat who arrived in the summer and reported symptoms on 29 December.

The official said recent confirmed cases demonstrate that these incidents are still ongoing.

Canada will continue to have an ambassador in Havana and officials said full consular services will be available to Canadians. But officials said other programs may be adjusted in the coming weeks and diplomatic staff from outside Cuba might assist.

A senior Canadian government official said in the briefing that Cuba has been cooperating from the beginning and said Cuban officials are as frustrated as Canadian officials. One official said Canadian relations with Cuba are very strong. Canadian government officials provided a briefing on the latest developments on condition of anonymity.