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Canada reduces presence in Cuba after another diplomat falls mysteriously ill


OTTAWA – A 14th Canadian has fallen ill to an unexplained illness in Havana, Cuba, prompting further reductions in embassy staffing in the country.

Canadian government officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, say Global Affairs Canada will consider halving its diplomatic presence in the Cuban capital, potentially reducing its representation by eight people from the current 16 serving in the Havana embassy.

The remaining diplomats will deliver only essential consular services, following a downsizing in April that determined that diplomats posted to Cuba would not be accompanied by families and dependents due to the ongoing uncertainty.

This latest case involves a diplomat who arrived in the summer and who reported symptoms on Dec. 29 of a mysterious illness that causes problems including nausea, dizziness, headaches and trouble concentrating.

The cause remains a mystery, and Canadian officials say they are getting good co-operation from the Cuban government, which is also frustrated by the incidents.

The RCMP is leading an investigation into the cause of the ailments that have affected both serving diplomats and family members and have also struck several American diplomats in Havana.

Copyright (c) 2019 The Canadian Press