Report: US Embassy cuts hamper ability to monitor in Cuba

Report: US Embassy cuts hamper ability to monitor in Cuba
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Staff at the U.S. embassy in Havana, Cuba, are taking on multiple responsibilities and say they are undermined in their ability to carry out embassy duties by drastic staff reductions imposed by the Trump administration.

Reuters reports that the Trump administration's decision to reduce staff at the embassy from 50 to 18 staffers over the suspicion of sonic-based attacks has overwhelmed the remaining workers, according to a report from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS).

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“Because of the reduction in U.S. staff, U.S. officials maintain that those officers at post often wear two or three hats in terms of responsibilities,” the report reads.

The report, commissioned by ranking House Foreign Affairs Committee Democratic Rep. Elliot Engel (D-N.Y), added that a decision this month from the State Department to reduce embassy staff terms makes it "difficult for the continuity of operations and familiarity with working in Cuba.”

The Trump administration announced late last year that it would reduce embassy staff by roughly 60 percent and expel more than a dozen Cuban diplomats over months of alleged "health attacks" directed at U.S. personnel.

“We have underscored repeatedly to the Cuban government its responsibility for the security, safety, [and] well-being” of our diplomats, a State Department official said last year.

The administration insists that current staff levels will persist until the mystery surrounding the "attacks" is solved.

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday concerning the report.