UASS called today for the federal government to permit ferry service to Cuba to compete freely with air carriers in transporting U.S. travelers to Cuba. At present no ferry service is authorized to Cuba, even though UASS is ready and willing to provide it and U.S. law permits it.
“The recent announcement that eight new U.S. airports – in addition to Miami – have been authorized to provide air service to Cuba highlights the preferential treatment given air over ocean passenger service,” UASS Chairman Daniel Berrebi said. He went on to say, “There is a need and a desire for a ferry service to Cuba and it is fundamental to this country’s values that people be allowed that choice and that the government does not favor one element of the transportation industry over another.”
Nearly a year ago Mr. Berrebi’s company filed for a Treasury Department license to operate a ferry service from South Florida to Havana. No decision has been made on the application, but it is clear that the Treasury Department may issue licenses for a ferry service under the current rules that authorize both “vessels” and aircraft to provide carrier services to Cuba. “All that is required for it to happen is a policy decision by the Obama administration in favor of ferry service,” said Robert Muse, a Washington, D.C. lawyer who specializes in U.S. laws relating to Cuba.
UASS’ President Joseph Hinson says there are four good reasons for the U.S. government to license ferry service to Cuba: “It is significantly cheaper, it is more comfortable and pleasurable, it is a preferable form of travel for the elderly, the infirm and family groups. Also, a ferry service is a vastly cheaper way for people to bring supplies authorized by U.S. law to relatives in Cuba.”
Miami-based UASS is an ocean transport company offering a wide range of shipping services through its corporate group that includes Baja Ferries, which operates passenger ferry lines in Mexico. Its affiliate American Cruise Ferries has recently invested $65 million in reinstituting ferry service this month between San Juan, Puerto Rico and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.