First Cargo Ship Arrives in Havana from Miami in 50 Years

Havana, Jul 14 (IANS/EFE): The freighter Ana Cecilia, which sailed last Wednesday from Miami to Cuba with a cargo of goods considered humanitarian aid, docked Friday in the port of Havana to inaugurate a service of regular shipments without precedent in the last 50 years.

The ship's arrival in Havana Bay occurred at dawn Friday, one day behind schedule due to administrative problems with the documentation needed for docking at the Cuban capital.

The vessel, which on its first trip to Cuba carried only one container, entered the bay under Cuban and Bolivian flags, since it is registered in that landlocked South American country, a spokesman for the International Port Corporation, the company in charge of the shipping, told EFE.

The Ana Cecilia is planned to begin a regular transport service to Cuba with goods categorized as humanitarian aid, while this week's sailing constitutes the first direct maritime shipment between Miami and Havana in more than 50 years.

Leonardo Sanchez, spokesman for IPC, said by telephone Friday that the frequency of shipments will be based on the volume of requests for them that the company receives.

The IPC company has all the licenses required by the US government under the terms of Washington's 49-year-old economic embargo against the communist-ruled island.

This service is permitted to transport a wide range of items considered by the US as humanitarian aid including medicines, food, clothing, electric appliances, furniture, building materials, car parts and electric generators.

Most of the goods are sent by businesses and individuals from among Miami's large population of Cuban exiles.

Those to whom the goods are sent can pick them up at the port of Havana or have them delivered to a specific address by the Cubapack company.

The new service seems to be evidence of a certain relaxing of the long-standing tension between the US and Cuba, following the easing in recent years of some restrictions on sending remittances and making trips to the island.


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