First Miami-Cuba cargo shipment in 50 years docks in Havana
The first cargo ship to sail directly from Miami to Cuba in 50 years docked in Havana on Friday, carrying humanitarian aid including packages to relatives in Cuba.
The same ship will now go on to run a shipment from Miami to Cuba each week – the first since 1962, when US President John F Kennedy stopped trade with Cuba’s communist government. It was Barack Obama who relaxed the embargo three years ago, meaning that Cuban-Americans could send money and visit their relatives.
The new cargo ship service is provided by the International Port Corporation who holds licenses from the US Treasury Department. The service costs around £8 per kilo of goods shipped.
There are other services that run from other ports in the United States, but Miami is home to a large Cuban exile community, so the route holds special significance as relatives are able to send items back to family in Cuba.
There has been mixed reactions from Cubans, especially around Havana Harbor where the ship – the Bolivian-flagged Ana Cecilia – docked. Fisherman Daniel Herbert said: “I don’t think the appearance of a new flag on the waters of Havana Harbor is going to change my lifestyle.”
The shipments have been very well-received in Florida, however, and despite no official response from Cuba, Cuban Opposition economist Oscar Espinosa Chepe agreed that they were a positive step. He said: “I welcome this initiative and hope we will continue on a path to normalise ties between Cuba and the United States.”