Developments Regarding U.S. Diplomats Serving in Cuba

On September 19, the U.S.-Cuba Bilateral Commission held its sixth meeting, this time in Washington, D.C. The official statements about the closed meeting do not reveal much of the substance of the discussion.[1]

One of the subjects of the meeting was the medical incidents involving U.S. diplomats in Cuba.

The U.S. statement about the meeting stated there was discussion regarding “the incidents affecting diplomatic personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Havana. The [U.S.] reiterated its deep concern for the safety and security of the U.S. Embassy community in Havana and the urgent need to identify the cause of these incidents and to ensure they cease.”[2]

According to Cuban Foreign Ministry, the Cuban delegation also addressed the alleged incidents. They “reiterated that Cuba is strictly complying with its obligations as regards the protection of diplomats, which has never . . . perpetrated actions of this nature, nor has it permitted its territory to be used by third parties for that purpose.” Finally, the Cuban delegation “emphasized that the Cuban authorities have a great interest in clarifying this matter and concluding the investigation that is underway, at the suggestion of the highest level of government, for which the cooperation of the American authorities is essential.”

In addition, the Cuban statement said its delegation “reiterated its rejection of the backwardness of bilateral relations, measures to intensify the blockade and interference in internal affairs; confrontational rhetoric and political manipulation of the human rights issue that was used as a pretext to justify them, as well as the constraints that seek to condition an improvement in bilateral ties to the realization of changes in our constitutional order.”  It also “referred to the consequences of this change in the [U.S.] policy for relations between the two countries, including the effects it causes to various sectors in the [U.S.].”. (Emphasis added.)

Nevertheless, the Cuban delegation reportedly reaffirmed “their willingness to continue a respectful dialogue with the US government, . . . to actively implement the bilateral agreements signed in the last two years.” They alsotransferred concrete actions proposals from several Cuban entities to advance cooperation in areas of mutual benefit such as environmental protection, law enforcement, health, agriculture, hydrography and geodesy, among others.” (Emphasis added.)

The U.S. statement also said the U.S. “reviewed the Administration’s priorities and areas for engagement in the interests of the [U.S.] and the Cuban people, including human rights; implementation of the Migration Accords; and protecting the national security and public health and safety of the [U.S.].”

This meeting occurred simultaneously with President Trump’s speech at the U.N. General Assembly that included brief comments about Cuba and that will be discussed in a subsequent post. However, at the Bilateral Commission meeting the Cuban delegation registered a “strong protest;” about what it termed the “disrespectful, intrusive and unacceptable . . . speech.”

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[1] U.S. State Dep’t, United States and Cuba Hold Sixth Bilateral Commission Meeting in Washington, D.C. (Sept. 20, 2017); Cuban Foreign Ministry, Held in Washington VI Meeting of the Bilateral Commission Cuba-United States (Sept. 19, 2017); Assoc. Press, Cuba Again Denies Role in ‘Health Attacks’ on US Diplomats, N.Y. Times (Sept. 19, 2017); Assoc. Press, US to Press Concerns Over Incidents in Meeting with Cubans, N.Y. Times (Sept. 18, 2017). The so-called “Bilateral Commission” sessions were started as part of the process of normalization between the two countries since December 17, 2014, and have been discussed in prior posts: U.S.-Cuba Bilateral Commission Sets Agenda for Future Discussion of Remaining Issues (Sept. 12, 2015); Results of Second Meeting of U.S.-Cuba Bilateral Commission (Nov. 11, 2015); United States-Cuba Bilateral Commission Meets To Review Normalization Status (May 18, 2016); U.S. and Cuba Hold Another Meeting of the Bilateral Commission (Sept. 30, 2016).

[2] CBS News reported that one of the Americans suffering from an incident was the Regional Security Officer, who was the head of security at the U.S. Embassy in Havana. It also said closure of the Embassy was unlikely although there could be reductions of personnel. (CBS News, Investigation continues into attacks on State Dept. officials in Havana (Sept. 18, 2017).

 

 

 

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dwkcommentaries

As a retired lawyer and adjunct law professor, Duane W. Krohnke has developed strong interests in U.S. and international law, politics and history. He also is a Christian and an active member of Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church. His blog draws from these and other interests. He delights in the writing freedom of blogging that does not follow a preordained logical structure. The ex post facto logical organization of the posts and comments is set forth in the continually being revised “List of Posts and Comments–Topical” in the Pages section on the right side of the blog.

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