white-house-direct-mailWASHINGTON – Talks between the U.S. and Cuba are in the works to resume direct-mail service between the two countries for the first time in nearly half a century. On Sep 1st, 2009, diplomats made the announcement that talks are set to begin on Sept 17, 2009 as part of the Obama administration’s efforts to continue to try to engage the communist country.

Direct mail to Cuba stopped in 1963, and since then mail has had to go through other countries. Diplomats have now arranged to meet in Havana to discuss the renewal of direct mail between the countries to put an end to rerouting direct mail through Canada or Mexico. President Obama would like to improve relations between the U.S. and Cuba. He has taken measures to see if the Cuban leadership is interested in participating. One such step taken involves the support of a recent decision by the Organization of American States to reverse its position in 1962 to suspend Cuba from the 34-country group.

This is also big news for suppliers of mailing lists and for businesses that buy mailing lists. Restoring direct mail service between U.S. and Cuba has been an issue that has thwarted previous presidents, including George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Previous attempts had been stalled by the Cuban government. Experts say that it would not only be a big step for families that have been divided but also would be a politically critical move. The decision to have the direct mail talks comes just after migration talks in New York in July.

In a Sep 1st article from the Miami Herald, Cuba expert Phil Peters from the Lexington Institute, a Virginia research center, stated that there is a big difference this time and that Cuba was never able to agree to talk about it and now it seems like Cuba has agreed to talk about it. Peters also said that this is important “Within the context of Cuba and all the divided families,” and that it was also very symbolically important.

The Miami Herald article also mentions Cuban writer Manuel Vázquez Portal who says that a letter that should take only three days to arrive can take three or four months. He also emphasizes that this has bigger meaning because if he wants to communicate to his family in Cuba he is not restricted to calling them by phone or sending them an e-mail.

Vázquez Portal also points out that mail doesn’t get there by magic but that it gets there on ships and planes, and that mail arriving on more ships and more planes has a very important commercial and political meaning. He says, “This is the tip of the iceberg.”

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