First commercial flight from US to Cuba in more than 50 years

Cuban-American Chavez Lazarro explained why it was so important for him to be one of the 150 passengers on the first commercial flight from the US to Cuba since 1959: “I want to be on this historic flight and I want to see my family.”
First commercial flight Photo Credit: Channel 2 News

Another milestone was achieved in the renewed relations between the US and Cuba as the first commercial flight in more than 50 years between the two countries took off today (Wednesday) from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. The flight landed in Santa Clara, Cuba, one of the most important landmarks of the Cuban Revolution where there is a monument of the revolutionary leader Ernesto “Che” Guevara in the middle of the city.

This is another huge step in the US administration’s foreign policy in which the two countries are developing trade and tourism relations. Over the next few months, JetBlue Airways Corporation will operate regular flights between Fort Lauderdale and Santa Clara.

Among the flight’s passengers were US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, senior level government officials and journalists who fought for their tickets. Yet half of the 150 seats were reserved for regular customers, many of whom are Cuban-Americans. “I want to be on this historic flight and I want to see my family,” 49-year-old Miami resident Chavez Lazarro said.

President Obama and his family during his visit to Cuba Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News

In December 2014, following a year-and-a-half of secret talks, US President Barack Obama announced the beginning of a normalization process between the two countries in which the relations would be officially renewed in the summer of 2015.

Despite the improved relations including Obama’s visit to the Caribbean island six months ago, the US President is still attempting to convince Congress to completely lift the embargo against Cuba. Even today, US citizens who wish to travel to Cuba must bring special approval forms with them to the island.

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