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Miami company launches Cuban cargo service

From Adriana Hauser, CNN
updated 8:25 PM EDT, Wed July 11, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Wednesday's shipment marks the first direct shipment in 50 years
  • At $5.99 per pound, the price is less than air shipments
  • Most of the goods are being sent by Cubans' kin in the U.S., company says

(CNN) -- A shipment of humanitarian goods that the shipper says are not prohibited by Washington's longtime trade embargo departed a Miami River terminal Wednesday bound for Cuba.

It marked the launch of what is to be a weekly service offered by International Port Corp., and it represents the first direct commercial shipment from the U.S. to Cuba by sea in a half-century, the company said.

Company spokesman Leonardo Sanchez-Adega said many of the goods the boat is carrying were sent by Cubans' relatives in the United States.

The boat was expected to arrive Thursday morning in Cuba and return Friday to Miami, he said. The boat's owners are charging senders $5.99 per pound, a lower-priced alternative to air shipments, which have to pass through a third country.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Florida, who typically opposes any type of rapprochement between the two countries while Cuba remains nondemocratic, sent a letter to the Office of Foreign Assets Control asking that the company be investigated to see whether it is in compliance with U.S. law.

For its part, the company says that it is.

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