HAVANA TIMES – The “Ana Cecilia”, the first cargo ship that travels directly from Miami to Cuba in half a century, arrived Friday morning with its cargo of humanitarian aid a day late at the Port of Havana, reported DPA news.
The boat chartered by a U.S. company entered Havana Bay at about seven o’clock, 24 hours after the originally scheduled time.
The delay was due to problems with the documentation necessary to dock at the port on Thursday morning, said International Port Corp spokesperson, Leonardo Sanchez.
“It was because of us,” Sanchez told DPA news. “One of the forms was incorrect, the other was missing information.” The “Ana Cecilia” lost its turn and had to wait until today.
The ship is expected to provide a new weekly service of shipments of humanitarian aid. In addition to religious or charitable organizations authorized to do this type of shipment, also Cubans living in the United States may contract the service to send goods to their relatives or friends on the island.
Cuba has been subjected for more than half a century to a severe economic and trade embargo by the United States.
The demand for the new service is great, said Sanchez. The company serves 10 or 20 people a day interested in sending goods to Cuba. The company also offers to provide home deliveries throughout the island.
For it all to be possible, “There were three years of paperwork in the preparations,” said Sanchez.
The details of the service, however, have yet to be totally stipulated, so there are still no concrete plans for the coming shipments, Sanchez said. If all goes well, the next shipment should leave Miami to Havana next Wednesday.
Since Barack Obama took office in the U.S., stringent laws regarding Cuba, hardened under his Republican predecessor George W. Bush, have relaxed slightly.
In early 2009, Obama eased travel and remittance sending restrictions for Cuban Americans to the island, and also opened organized travel to Cuba for religious groups and academics, among others. Ordinary US citizens are still prohibitted by their government to visit Cuba without a special license.
After former President Bill Clinton in 2000 made a change to allow the sale of agricultural products and medicine to Cuba under certain conditions, another cargo company opened a year later a weekly trip from Port Everglades, also in Florida, to Cuba with that type of cargo, noted DPA.
The “Ana Cecilia”, however, is the first to cover the direct route from Miami in 50 years.