The two diplomats of the Cuban mission to the UN who were expelled by the U.S. government returned to Havana this Friday accompanied by their respective families, according to the island’s television.
They are the minister counselor, Jorge Peña Argilagos, and the first secretary of the Cuban diplomatic mission to the United Nations Organization in New York, Rolando Vergara Sito, whose identities had not been revealed until now.
The diplomats were received upon arrival at José Martí International Airport in Havana by Deputy Foreign Minister Anayansi Rodríguez and the director of bilateral affairs and the General Department for the United States of the Cuban Foreign Ministry, Yuri Gala.
This Thursday the U.S. government demanded the departure from the country of the two Cuban diplomats for having “engaged in activities harmful to U.S. national security” and restricted the movements of the rest of the Cuban mission to the UN that, as of now, can only move through Manhattan, where the headquarters of the multilateral organization is located.
The Cuban television report noted that the diplomats “are returning home with the satisfaction of having fulfilled their duty, although the U.S. government accuses them of carrying out alleged acts incompatible with their diplomatic status.”
Cuba argues that both officials served in the fulfillment of their mission during their stay in the United States “fully in accordance” with the provisions of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations and the agreement on the UN headquarters.
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez said this Friday that the island will respond “in an appropriate and timely manner” to the expulsion of the two diplomats and reiterated that these decisions by Washington are “unjustified and illegitimate actions based on slander” against the island’s diplomats and their mission to the UN.
He considered that the State Department’s move “sets a dangerous precedent for diplomatic relations and international law” and that with this it seeks to create a diplomatic escalation that will lead to the rupture of bilateral relations and the closure of the respective embassies, reopened in 2015 during the “thaw” with the Barack Obama administration.
Since arriving in the White House in January 2017, President Donald Trump has strengthened the policy toward Cuba with reductions in diplomatic personnel, new sanctions that intensify the trade embargo, restrictions on cruises and more limits on Americans’ travel to the Island, although commercial flights have continued to operate normally.