The Obama Administration approved a ferry service between the United States and Cuba–the first in more than half a century.
Four companies–all American, and based in Florida–were authorized to begin service, though it’s not entirely clear when that service will begin.
“I’m very excited, because this is a historical event in U.S.-Cuba relations,” said Leonard Moecklin Sr., the managing partner at one of the approved ferry companies, Havana Ferry.
This represents the next step in Obama’s historic push to re-establish diplomatic ties with Cuba, which he’s been pushing since December 17–shortly after the 2014 elections, his last midterm as President.
But despite the new, fast ways to get from Cuba to the United States, travel to the communist island is still not open for American tourists–and won’t be, unless Congress lifts the embargo. That remains a controversial prospect–though, surprisingly, not a partisan one, with both fervent support and fiery opposition coming from different leaders on both sides of the aisle.
The ferries will only be able to carry authorized U.S. travelers to Cuba: people heading south for family visits, religious travel, or educational activities, among other things.
Cuba has yet to approve the ferry service, but despite the limited scope, this represents yet another notch in Obama’s unilateral push to defrost America’s relationship with Cuba.