Informacion economica sobre Cuba

Ferry may someday connect Manatee to Cuba, officials suggest

Published: November 16, 2012

By SARA KENNEDY — skennedy@bradenton.com

MANATEE — Ferry service between Port Manatee and Cuba is one

possibility should diplomatic relations be normalized between the United

States and the island nation to its south, officials said Thursday.

Ferries may someday ply the waters between Manatee and Cuba, carrying

both passengers and cargo, Port Executive Director Carlos Buqueras said

Thursday after a meeting of the Manatee County Port Authority.

Havana is located about 300 miles south of the port, which is between

Palmetto and the Hillsborough County line.

The launch of ferry service was a topic Buqueras discussed recently

during a trip he made to Spain, he said.

"The operator for Havana is located in Barcelona," said Buqueras, who

later explained that the Port of Havana is operated jointly by a Spanish

company and the Cuban government.

"We want to make sure opportunities to sail from here are welcome at the

other end," he told the port au

thority board, comprised of Manatee County commissioners.

Commissioner Donna Hayes said it was an "opportune time to start working

on this, this is not something that happens overnight."

"A ferry service makes a lot of sense, it makes sense at Port Manatee,

especially with the opening of Cuba, eventually," said Commissioner Joe

McClash.

"This port stands to gain so much by a ferry operation," McClash said.

Right now, travel to Cuba is difficult because the U.S. lacks diplomatic

relations with the island nation. The U.S. cut ties to Cuba after

communists took over its government in 1959. The U.S. instituted an

economic embargo, which makes it illegal for U.S. companies to do most

kinds of business there.

Any changes that render Cuba more accessible will benefit Florida,

because of its large Cuban population, said Jason Bittner, director of

Tampa's Center for Urban Transportation Research, affiliated with the

University of South Florida.

But when asked about a prognosis for a ferry business, he demurred.

"Whether a ferry service could make any money or not, I wouldn't be able

to pass judgment on that right now," he said.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow

her on Twitter @sarawrites.com.

http://www.bradenton.com/2012/11/16/4280750/ferry-may-someday-connect-manatee.html


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