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article imageUS-Cuba mail service fully implemented after trial phase

By AFP     Jun 1, 2018 in Business

Direct mail service between the United States and Cuba was fully established Friday at the end of a trial period despite a toughening stance by President Donald Trump towards the island's government.

The US Postal Service and Correos de Cuba "agreed to permanently implement, through direct flights, the exchange of postal mail between countries," the Cuban mail service said in a statement.

Direct mail between the United States and Cuba was cut for nearly half a century due to the US-imposed trade embargo of the 1960s.

Re-establishing the mail service was one of the first steps taken by president Barack Obama's administration when diplomatic ties were re-established in 2015.

Correos de Cuba said that all of the security and technical requirements identified during a trial phase that began in March, 2016 have been implemented.

Packages, express service mail and regular correspondence can now travel on direct flights between Cuba and the United States.

The first mail flight between the two countries, as part of the trial period, arrived just before Obama's visit to Cuba in March 2016. It carried a letter from the US president answering a 67-year-old Cuban woman who wanted to meet him.

Nearly two million Cuban-Americans live in the United States and many stay in touch with relatives and friends on the island.

While online communication tools like email have largely made written personal letters obsolete, the mail service is still needed to send packages with medicine, food and other items.

Ties between Havana and Washington have cooled considerably since Trump took office in January 2017.

The Trump administration has tightened restrictions on US travelers to Cuba, and the State Department said it will permanently scale back its mission in Havana, which had already been operating with a reduced staff since September 2017 when diplomats and relatives were evacuated because of a health incident.

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