Barack Obama writes a letter to Cuban pensioner as first direct mail sent in 50 years

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A 76-year-old Cuban woman has received a letter from Barack Obama as direct postal services resume between the island and its northern neighbor. When Cuba’s first postal delivery in 50 years from the United States touched down in Havana, the country celebrated. But one 76-year-old was celebrating more than most. Ileana Yarza, 76, wrote to President Barack Obama on February 18, inviting him to her home in Havana for a strong cup of Cuban coffee, explaining that “there are not many Cubans so eager as I to meet you in person.” And among the letters delivered on Wednesday’s historic service was a response from Mr Obama, who wrote back to tell her how much he was looking forward to his visit on Sunday. “Thank you for your kind words,” the president wrote.

“I appreciate your support over the years, and I hope this note – which will reach you by way of the first direct mail flight between the United States and Cuba in over 50 years – serves as a reminder of a bright new chapter in the relationship between our two nations. “I am looking forward to visiting Havana to foster this relationship and highlight our shared values – and, hopefully, I will have time to enjoy a cup of Cuban coffee. “Mrs Yarza said she was “pleasantly surprised” by his response. Cuban state press say the postal service was cut after a letter bomb was sent from New York to Cuba in 1968. The White House published the letter on Thursday, but Mrs Yarza said she was waiting to open it until relatives arrived to watch. The resumption of postal services is one of a number of developments announced this week ahead of the Obama family’s eagerly-anticipated visit to the island – the first by a sitting US president since 1928.

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