The return of passenger ferry services between the United States and Cuba took a major step forward on Tuesday when the Treasury Department issued licenses to at least two U.S. companies.
One of the licenses was issued to Miami-based Baja Ferries USA, part of a major shipping group with passengers and cargo operations, including on Mexico’s west coast, according to the company.
Another license was issued to Puerto Rico-based America Cruise Ferries, according to a lawyer who handled the license application for the company.
Ferry services between Cuba and the United States were cut off in the early 1960s, following the Cuban revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power.
In December, the United States and Cuba announced plans to renew diplomatic relations after 54 years, and have since held high level talks.
“If all goes smoothly we could have things up and running by September,” said Joseph Hinson, vice president of Baja Ferries USA.
He added the company still needed to get approval from Cuba, as well as Florida port officials.
“This is a further step in bringing Cuba and the United States closer together,” said Robert Muse, a Washington-based lawyer who represented Baja Ferries and specializes in Cuba sanctions.
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Obama Admin Just Licensed Ferry Services