Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Courting Cuba: US authorizes ferry service

The Obama Administraiton on May 4 approved the first ferry service in decades between the United States and Cuba.

Baja Ferries, which runs passenger ferries in Mexico, received a license from the U.S. Treasury Department, an initial step in starting service between the two countries.

Another important step has yet to be taken, however. An attorney for Baja Ferries said the company has yet to request Cuba's approval. According to an Associated Press brief on the topic, the attorney said he is optimistic that the service would allow an increase in trade and travel between the two countries.

Meanwhile, the Cuban government has yet to comment on the news and it is not a certainty that the Castro regime is willing to allow a major new channel for the movement of people and goods between the two countries.

In December of last year, President Obama unveiled a 13-point plan to reestablish relations with Cuba. Obama said his plan would renew U.S. leadership in the Americas, end the outdated approach on Cuba, and promote more effective change that supports the Cuban people and our national security interests.

The flag of Cuba
“Decades of U.S. isolation of Cuba have failed to accomplish our objective of empowering Cubans to build an open and democratic country,” he said. “At times, longstanding U.S. policy towards Cuba has isolated the United States from regional and international partners, constrained our ability to influence outcomes throughout the Western Hemisphere, and impaired the use of the full range of tools available to the United States to promote positive change in Cuba.”

“Though this policy has been rooted in the best of intentions, it has had little effect – today, as in 1961, Cuba is governed by the Castros and the Communist party,” Obama continued. “We cannot keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. It does not serve America’s interests, or the Cuban people, to try to push Cuba toward collapse.”

Read more about the details of that plan here.

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