On today’s date in 2016, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) resumed its mail service to Cuba for the first time in more than half a century.
Earlier that month, the USPS announced it would once again resume sending mail directly to the small island nation – only 50 kilometres south of Florida – after former President John F. Kennedy suspended it in 1963, during the height of the Cold War.
“The U.S. Postal Service is pleased to participate in the historic direct transportation of mail service with Cuba,” said then U.S. Postmaster General and CEO Megan Brennan in 2016. “Moving letter mail and package volume directly between our countries will improve service for businesses and consumers.”
According to a report by USA Today, the first USPS dispatch to Cuba was sent March 17, 2016, and included a letter from President Barack Obama to 76-year-old Cuban citizen Ileana R. Yarza. A “USA-Cuba Direct” postmark dated March 16 was used to hand-cancel the president’s mail, which read in part:
“I appreciate your support over the years, and I hope this note — which will reach you by way of the first direct mail flight between the United States and Cuba in over 50 years — serves as a reminder of a bright new chapter in the relationship between our two nations.”