US Approves Ferry Service to Cuba

The Obama administration took another step forward in its efforts to normalize relations with Cuba by restoring commercial ferry services between the former Cold War rivals.

The U.S. Treasury Department Tuesday issued licenses to at least four companies to ferry passengers and cargo along the 150-kilometer (90-mile) route from the southern tip of Florida to Havana. Three of the companies are based in Florida.

In a related story, U.S.-based airliner Jet Blue announced Tuesday it would provide charter flights between New York City and Havana beginning in July.

Possible host ports for ferry service between Florida and CubaPossible host ports for ferry service between Florida and Cuba

Ferry service between the U.S. and Cuba was commonplace in the years before the 1959 communist revolution led by Fidel Castro that overthrew the regime of dictator Fulgencio Batista.

U.S. citizens who wish to travel to Cuba can only do so under limited guidelines, including educational and cultural tours.

Washington and Havana have held a number of high-level talks since U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced last December the two countries were renewing diplomatic ties after more than five decades.

Obama and Castro held face-to-face talks at last month’s Summit of the Americas in Panama City, Panama.

Days after the meeting, Obama said he intended to take communist Cuba off the United States’ list of state sponsors of terrorism.