Department of State: Staff to Return to U.S. Embassy in Havana

Havana Cuba

According to the U.S. Department of State, on Monday, March 5, a new permanent staffing plan at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba will take effect.

The U.S. Embassy in Havana has operated under ordered departure status since September 29 due to health attacks affecting U.S. Embassy Havana employees. It will reach the maximum allowable days in departure status on March 4.

“We still do not have definitive answers on the source or cause of the attacks, and an investigation into the attacks is ongoing,” according the Department of State’s website. “The health, safety, and well-being of U.S. government personnel and family members are of the greatest concern for Secretary Tillerson and were a key factor in the decision to reduce the number of personnel assigned to Havana.”

The embassy will continue to operate with the minimum personnel necessary to perform core diplomatic and consular functions, similar to the level of emergency staffing maintained during ordered departure. 

The embassy will operate as an unaccompanied post, “defined as a post at which no family members are permitted to reside,” according to the State Department.

On Thursday, a group of 28 United States tour operators and organizations specializing in educational travel and exchanges with Cuba called on the State Department to re-staff its Embassy in Havana and change Cuba’s travel advisory from a Level 3 (“reconsider travel”) to at least a less intimidating Level 2 (“exercise increased caution”).

During a meeting on January 12 with State Department officials, a group of American tour operators, travel associations, and Cuba experts were told that a Level 3 rating is automatically triggered by a “drawdown” of U.S. Embassy personnel as a result of the “No Double Standard” policy articulated in the Foreign Affairs Manual.

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