In an apparent move to further hinder travel between Cuba and the United States, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has suspended operations in Havana.
The announcement was made Friday (Dec. 22) via a note on the USCIS web page that said: “Due to staff reductions at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba, USCIS will temporarily suspend operations at its field office in Havana, effective immediately.
“During this time, the USCIS field office in Mexico City, Mexico, will assume Havanaís jurisdiction, which includes only Cuba. If you live in Cuba please read our web alert to see how you will be affected.”
The web alert provides “Updated USCIS procedures for Cuba.” To read them, click here.
The Cuban daily Granma this weekend derided the action as “another of [President Trump’s] deranged moves regarding Cuba” and described it as “politically motivated.”
The website Cubadebate points out that “the U.S. has reduced to a minimum the personnel at its embassy in Havana, which has led it to suspend the issuance of visas and limit its consular services in cases of emergency in answer to the alleged sonic ‘attacks’ that more than 20 of its functionaries have experienced in Cuba.
Those “attacks” were recorded between late 2016 and August 2017 “and their cause is unknown,” Cubadebate says.
In addition, the U.S. State Department “ordered the expulsion of 15 functionaries at the Cuban Embassy in Washington, a step that has increased tensions with the Cuban government, which denies any connection with the incidents,” Cubadebate says.
In his address to the National Assembly of the People’s Power on Dec. 21, President Raúl Castro said that the U.S. has resorted “to the artificial fabrication of pretexts to justify the return to failed and universally rejected policies.
“I categorically reiterate that Cuba had and has no responsibility whatsoever in the incidents that allegedly affected the health of accredited diplomats or other foreign visitors,” the president said.
“The results of the Cuban and U.S. investigations, which until now have not found the slightest evidence of the causes or origin of the health conditions described, confirm this,” he added.
[For President Castro’s entire speech, in English, click here.]