Canada to reduce diplomatic presence in Cuba after yet another diplomat hit by mystery illness

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Canada to reduce diplomatic presence in Cuba after yet another diplomat hit by mystery illness


OTTAWA—Canada is reducing its diplomatic operations in Cuba after confirmation that yet another diplomat is suffering mysterious health symptoms.

Only essential functions will now be performed by personnel at the embassy in Havana, a senior government official confirmed Wednesday.

Canada's embassy in Havana, Cuba in April 2018. Both Canadian and U.S. diplomats in the city have been hit by unexplained health symptoms that appear to be consistent with a brain injury.
Canada’s embassy in Havana, Cuba in April 2018. Both Canadian and U.S. diplomats in the city have been hit by unexplained health symptoms that appear to be consistent with a brain injury.  (Desmond Boylan / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

This latest case brings to 14 the number of diplomats and dependants who have been affected by concussion-like symptoms.

Both Canadian and U.S. diplomats in Havana have been hit by the unexplained health symptoms. Canadian diplomats have symptoms consistent with a brain injury, according to an Ottawa doctor who has assessed them.

But Canada’s decision to reduce its embassy to non-essential personnel comes 16 months after Washington made the same decision about its embassy in Havana.

Global Affairs had already deemed the Havana post as “unaccompanied,” meaning the family members were not allowed to join diplomats in the country.

But confirmation of a new case last November prompted foreign affairs officials to put embassy operations under review.

Wednesday’s announcement means that the diplomatic presence in the country will be dialed back even further.

Just what that cause is remains a mystery. Environmental tests at the homes of diplomats have ruled out air or water as a possible cause.

Bruce Campion-Smith is an Ottawa-based reporter covering national politics. Follow him on Twitter: @yowflier





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