Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez considered “unjustified” the expulsion this Thursday of two Cuban diplomats to the UN in New York and described as “vulgar slander” the reason put forward by the U.S., which accuses them of engaging in activities against the country’s security.
“I categorically reject the unjustified expulsion of 2 officials from the Permanent Mission of #Cuba to the #UN and the strengthening of movement restrictions for diplomats and families,” the Cuban foreign minister posted on Twitter.
Expulsión de 2 diplomáticos de la Misión de #Cuba en #ONU y mayor restricción de movimiento a los restantes tienen el objetivo de provocar una escalada diplomática que lleve al cierre de Embajadas bilaterales, endurecer aún más el bloqueo y crear tensiones entre ambos países.
— Bruno Rodríguez P (@BrunoRguezP) September 19, 2019
This first reaction from Havana came just two hours after the U.S. Department of State announced that it had asked two members of the Cuban mission to the United Nations to leave the country for “engaging in activities harmful to U.S. national security.”
For Bruno Rodríguez “the accusation that they engaged in actions incompatible with their diplomatic status is vulgar slander,” he said in the first of his two posts on Twitter.
The Donald Trump administration also announced this Thursday that it has restricted the movements of the rest of the Cuban mission to the UN and from now on its members can only stay in Manhattan, the business and administrative center of New York where the building that is the headquarters of the United Nations is located.
In a second post, the Cuban foreign minister considered that both the expulsion of his two diplomats and the restriction of movements for the rest are aimed at “provoking a diplomatic escalation that leads to the closure of bilateral embassies, further tightening the blockade and creating tensions between the two countries.”
The U.S. Department of State has not mentioned for now the names of the affected diplomats or their rank, nor has it disclosed details about the “harmful” activities in which they have allegedly participated.
Cuba’s mission to the UN is made up of 16 people, according to the latest data that appears on its website.
Cuba usually uses the UN platform to call for an end to the commercial and economic embargo on the island. Since 1992, the UN General Assembly has been approving each year a text that is not binding, but in which the United States is urged to end the blockade and in which its negative effects are highlighted.
The United States and the UN signed an agreement in 1947 for New York to serve as the headquarters of the international organization and, in return, the U.S. authorities pledged “not to impose any impediment on the entry or exit” of accredited diplomats.
However, Washington reserves the right to expel diplomats who commit a crime, although it cannot try them because they have diplomatic immunity.
Since arriving in the White House in January 2017, President Donald Trump has strengthened the policy towards Cuba with reductions in diplomatic personnel, increased trade embargo, restrictions on cruises and limits on travel by Americans to the island, although commercial flights continue to operate normally.