Navy unsure of how to pay Cuban retirees

Dec. 31, 2012 at 2:23 PM

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- The last Cuban workers at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo have retired, leaving it unclear how Cuban retirees will get their pensions due to the trade embargo.

Harry Henry, 82, and Luis La Rosa, 79, both of whom began working at the U.S. Navy base when they were teenagers, retired this month and because of their longstanding employment with the U.S. government, they are both entitled to Defense Department pensions, The Miami Herald reported.

However, because of the 50-year-old U.S. embargo on trade with Cuba, the Navy is unsure as to how they and other Cuban retirees will be paid. Henry and La Rosa had been acting as couriers for the pension payments.

"Right now there is no established plan to pay these pensions -- because of the complication of U.S. law," Navy Lt. Cmdr. Christopher Servello said in a statement Friday issued by U.S. Navy Operations headquarters. "Base and Department of State officials are working to find a permanent solution."

The Navy would not say how many Guantanamo "commuters," or local Cubans who maintained employment at the base after Cuba's revolution, are still receiving pensions, or provide a dollar figure.

"We saw this coming for some time with the retirement of the last Cuban commuter," one Naval officer said, "but have yet to settle on a solution."

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