All aboard to Cuba!
Making good on President Barack Obama’s promise to thaw the icy relations between the U.S. and Cuba, his administration gave the green light to four ferry operators Tuesday to begin making round-trips to Cuba, the Associated Press reports.
Baja Ferries—a U.S. passenger line that operates in Mexico—said that it received a license from the Treasury Department. Three other ferry lines, based in Florida—Havana Ferry Partners, United Caribbean Lines Florida and Airline Brokers Co.—say that they have also received permission to conduct a ferry service between the two countries, according to a Sun Sentinel report referenced by AP, although the Treasury Department has not confirmed these licenses.
Robert Muse, a lawyer for Baja Ferries, said that the ferry line had not yet requested approval from Cuba, but he was hopeful that it would work out and that this new opportunity would increase “trade and travel” between the two nations that were at odds for decades, according to AP.
“I think it’s a further indication of the seriousness of the Obama administration in normalizing relations with Cuba,” said Muse, who is also an expert on U.S. law concerning Cuba, according to AP. “We’re now going from the theoretical to the very specific.”
Obama had already created a spate of loopholes in the trade embargo between U.S. and Cuba after announcing in December of last year that he was easing diplomatic relations with the island nation. Ferries are considered a more affordable option for passenger and cargo service between both countries.
Advocacy groups are lobbying Congress to put an end to all the travel restrictions and allow complete, unfiltered tourism between the U.S. and Cuba.