(HAVANA) — The Obama administration approved the first ferry service in decades between the United States and Cuba on Tuesday, potentially opening a new path for the hundreds of thousands of people and hundreds of millions of dollars in goods that travel between Florida and Havana each year.
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Baja Ferries, which operates passenger service in Mexico, said it had received a license from the Treasury Department. Robert Muse, an attorney for Baja Ferries, said he believed that other ferry service petitions had also been approved. The Treasury Department said it could not immediately confirm that, but Florida-based Havana Ferry Partners told the Sun-Sentinel newspaper that their request for a license had also been approved.
Muse said Baja had yet to request approval from Cuba, but added that he was optimistic the service would allow a significant increase in trade and travel between the two countries.
The Cuban government made no immediate comment on the news and it is far from clear that it is willing or able to allow a major new channel for the movement of goods and people between the two countries.
“I think it’s a further indication of the seriousness of the Obama administration in normalizing relations with Cuba,” said Muse, an expert on U.S. law on Cuba. “We’re now going from the theoretical to the very specific.”