Cuba-US Relations Update: Both Nations to Restore Direct Mail Service
The United States and Cuba have taken another huge step in the effort to mend broken ties by agreeing to re-establish direct postal service between the two countries for the first time in five decades.
U.S. - Cuba Pilot Postal Program
Officials announced on Friday that the U.S. and the Caribbean island will launch a pilot program that will allow the nations to send and receive mail and packages, reports ABC News. A date has not been set for the permanent resumption of service.
Direct mail service came to a halt in 1963 during the height of Cold War tensions.
First Direct Charter Flight
In addition, American Airlines began the first chartered service from Los Angeles to Cuba on Saturday, reports City Lab. The new weekly direct flight from the U.S. to Cuba (LAX to Havana's Jose Marti International Airport) will also be managed by Cuba Travel Services. Travelers, however, are not yet able to take a U.S. commercial flight to Cuba.
As of now, the flight will only be open to travelers sanctioned by the U.S. government, including journalists, businesspeople, students, artists, and evangelists.
Starting last December, President Obama began taking steps to advance the U.S. effort to normalize relations with Cuba, following a 54-year frozen relationship that began when the former Cold War foes cut ties in 1961.
Earlier this year, the White House issued regulations easing restrictions on American companies seeking to do business in Cuba in the latest action to weaken the U.S. trade embargo.
Meanwhile, back in May, the U.S. removed Cuba from the U.S. terrorism list after a thorough review determined the Cuban government had not provided assistance to terrorist organizations in the preceding six months and the country agreed not to do so moving forward.