U.S. employees rake in big bucks for “hardship” in Havana

U.S. government employees assigned to Havana get an automatic 35 percent bump in salary. It’s known as a “hardship differential,” and it’s given to employees only when their foreign posting “involves extraordinarily difficult living conditions, excessive physical hardship, or notably unhealthful conditions affecting the majority of employees officially stationed or detailed at that place.” American … Read more

U.S. immigrant visas to Cubans down by 31 percent

The U.S. Embassy in Havana issued just 29 immigrant visas in fiscal year 2018, which ended on Sept. 30. That was little more than one-quarter percent of the 9,752 visas issued the previous year, a State Department report shows. The number of immigrant visas issued in Guyana jumped from 4,096 to 7,672 as thousands of … Read more

Flashback: Beyoncé and Jay-Z in Havana

Jay-Z and Beyoncé drew criticism after celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary in Cuba in 2013. The Treasury Department’s Office of Inspector General investigated and found that they hadn’t broken the law. Their trip was legal under U.S. regulations allowing people-to-people educational travel. The Trump administration eliminated people-to-people travel by individuals and made it illegal to … Read more

A failure to communicate

The State Department did a poor job getting out the word of complaints that more than 20 U.S. embassy personnel and their family members in Havana had suffered “medical injuries similar to mild traumatic brain injury or concussion,” the U.S. Government Accountability Office reported. More effective communication is important, the GAO said, because it can … Read more

U.S. Embassy in Havana: A money pit for diplomats

The State Department has spent millions of dollars to renovate the American Embassy along Havana’s famed Malecón. Costs include at least $8 million for repair projects since 2010, records show. On Feb. 25, 2010, a Washington, D.C., company called CTS-Hardline signed a $2,241,474 contract for a project described as “Forced Entry/Ballistic Resistant (FE/BR) product replacement.” … Read more