Since 1963, the only way to get a letter from the US to Cuba, or vice versa, was to go through a third country. That could soon change. The AP reports that diplomats and postal service reps from both countries are to meet in Washington this week to discuss the re-establishment of direct mail service. Three noteworthy details:
- The talks don't signal any change in the Obama administration's Cuba policy, per the official the AP spoke with. Rather, they come under the Cuba Democracy Act of 1992 and represent an ongoing effort to advance "the free flow of information to, from, and within Cuba."
- Still, the postal talks have spiraled into something larger previously. In 2009, a senior State Department official dispatched to Havana for mail talks ended up tacking another six days onto his trip, during which he had a clandestine meeting with Cuba's deputy foreign minister; it was, at the time, the highest-level meeting that had taken place in decades.
- So, wait: If postal talks took place in 2009, why hasn't the issue been settled? Because of this man. American subcontractor Alan Gross has been jailed since 2009; talks were put on hold amid demands that he be released. As long as he's in jail, Washington says it will remain unwilling to make any significant changes to its relationship with Cuba.
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