The Cable

Washington and Havana Mail In Closer Ties

The United States and Cuba announce that normal mail service will resume between the two former rivals.

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The United States and Cuba announced Friday that they have agreed to re-establish direct mail service, which was cut in 1963 at the height of the Cold War, in the latest sign of diplomatic normalization between the longtime rivals.

The good news is that people wanting to send letters to Cuba from the United States, and vice versa, will soon be able to do so without hassle. Before Friday’s announcement, those who wanted to correspond with people in Cuba had to use a complex and complicated process; the U.S. Postal Service dedicates an entire page to explain how it can be done.

The bad news is that the program won’t be in place in time to get holiday cards to friends in Cuba. The new effort is starting off with a pilot program to test direct service, and there’s no timetable for the permanent re-establishment of mail links. A statement by the Cuban Embassy listed no restrictions on the kinds of letters and packages that can be sent.

Friday’s announcement comes nearly a year after Havana and Washington began working to rebuild formal ties. The diplomatic rapprochement began on Dec. 17, 2014, when Cuba released U.S. contractor Alan Gross in exchange for three who belonged to the so-called Cuban Five, a group of Cuban intelligence officers convicted in 2001 of espionage.

The two countries have since reopened embassies in their respective capitals. In April, President Barack Obama shook hands with Cuban President Raúl Castro at the Summit of the Americas in Panama, the first time any U.S. president has met his Cuban counterpart in more than 50 years.

Photo credit: Mandel Ngan/Getty Images

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