Today (December 17) marks one year since the United States and Cuba decided to normalise relations. That was nearly two years after Cuban President Raul Castro and US President Barack Obama shook hands at the funeral of late South African President Nelson Mandela, their first notable public encounter.
Significant progress has been made towards restoring scheduled passenger flights between the Cold War foes since then, however a formal deal has yet to be reached.
In the meantime postal flights have been given the stamp of approval.
Speaking at a news conference in Havana, Cuba’s Director of US Affairs Josefina Vidal told reporters that the two countries were close to reaching a preliminary agreement.
“They have made significant progress in the negotiations of a memorandum of understanding on establishing regular flights between Cuba and United States, and soon will be able to brief us on the announcement of a preliminary agreement on this issue,” said Vidal.
“Right now both countries are finalising logistical details of an operational nature in order to begin flights carrying direct mail between Cuba and the United States,” she added.
An official agreement would pave the way for US airlines to schedule flights to Cuba so that travellers could book directly on the internet. That could boost business and tourism on the island.
For now, general US tourism to Cuba is banned by a US trade embargo.