U.S. Mail Beats Obama to Cuba

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President Obama visits the island nation next week. Will direct mailers soon follow?

The U.S. Postal Service has resumed direct transportation of mail to Cuba for the first time in more than 50 years, just ahead of President Barack Obama's historic visit to the nation situated a scant 90 miles from the coast of Florida. International First-Class Mail and packages lead the list of items making their way there.

That's more good news for direct mailers. On top of the 4.3% exigent surcharge being lifted on April 10, and depending on what zone Cuba will be configured in, mailers will likely gain access to 11 million additional people in a country the size of Virginia. How lucrative the market will prove is another question: Per capita income in Cuba is under $8,000.

The United States and Cuba resumed relations and reopened embassies in each other's capitals last July, and while the American trade embargo against Cuba is still in place and cannot be lifted without congressional approval, free movement of mail installs an infrastructure destined to lead to tighter bonds.

Obama's trip, during which he will meet with President Raul Castro, is a mission to make positive relations permanent. On his agenda is a meeting with entrepreneurs and talks concerning further cooperative efforts in agriculture, healthcare, and education.

The president is also looking to forestall any undoing of his Cuban détente by future administrations. Both Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio came out against the relationship during their presidential campaigns, with Cruz labeling the deal “a tragic mistake.”

Marxist-Leninist Fidel Castro seized power from Cuban President Fulgencio Batista in 1959. President John F. Kennedy imposed a complete economic embargo on the nation in 1962 and, in 1996, President Bill Clinton signed the Helms-Burton Act that penalized foreign countries doing business with Cuba. The Cuban government has estimated that these policies have cost its country more than a trillion dollars in commerce over the past 50 years.

"The U.S. Postal Service is pleased to participate in the historic direct transportation of mail service with Cuba. Moving letter mail and package volume directly between ourcountries will improve service for businesses and consumers," "said Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan.

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