Is the Cuban Embargo working?

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Alberto Lalo

The Republic of Cuba has been one of the most controversial topics in regards to human rights activism and free trade in the modern world. Cuba is located in the Caribbean Sea, only 90 miles south of the southern most tip of Florida. It is the largest country of the Caribbean, with the largest population of around 11 million people. In 1958 the island experienced a coup by Fidel Castro, his brother Raul Castro, and their colleague Ernesto “El Che” Guevara. Castro established a communist dictatorship, nearly 60 years ago, closely allying him self and his country with the U.S.S.R. and their communist regime immediately causing a lot of tension with the U.S.

In response to Cuba adopting this new government type, the U.S. started making trade harder with the Caribbean island by putting a quota on the amount of sugar that they can import into the U.S. The U.S.S.R picked up the remaining amount that was not sent to the U.S. making tensions rise even further. Eventually the U.S., through certain status and acts, would set up an ultimate embargo on Cuba that would last for almost five decades and raise very important question. “Does it work?”

The Cuban embargo was supposed to strong-arm Castro and his government to leave behind the communist ways due to the lack of necessary supplies, which only the U.S. or allies of the U.S. can supply. The embargo has done quite the opposite. Castors main tool to demonize the U.S. is saying how they are limiting supplies, and allowing people to suffer because of American selfish acts. This puts the U.S. in an uncomfortable position for a number of reasons. The first is the obvious demonizing of the country due to the harsh trade regulation, not allowing for aid to be sent to a developing country. The second issue that arises is that it makes the U.S. look like an international police force, which might not be the best look that they are going for. One of the policies that the U.S. enforced to embargo Cuban trade is the Helms-Burton acts which basically punishes any company that goes into business with Cuba, allowing for them to be investigated if they do business with the both the U.S and Cuba. In order for the act to be lifted Cuba most, “legalize all political activity; release all political prisoners and international inspection of Cuban prisons; abolish the Ministry of Interior, its State Security branches and the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution.” (Tamayo) These changes, though might be for the better of the country, are very drastic and severe and probably asking too much.

The U.S. is also losing a lot of revenue from Cuba from this embargo. The U.S. allowed for increase trade with Cuba, which is saying a lot because it is still very limited, but the area of increase was in the agricultural sector. The U.S.  exported more than $350 million through American companies to Cuba, but the U.S. is expected to be losing anywhere from $800 million to $1.2 billion every year in potential trade from the U.S. The strongest way for the U.S. to make a impact in Cuba is by having leverage in the country via investments. The U.S. is also losing a lot of money on remittances from the U.S. “The biggest contribution (to the Cuban economy)  comes through remittances that Cuban Americans send to relatives – more than $2.6 billion worth in 2012”(Gomez). These are dollars that could be spent in the U.S. to help the economy but instead they are being sent abroad, showing just how the embargo is not entirely working.

 

Sources:

Gomez, Alan. “Voices: Cuba embargo? What Cuba embargo?”. USA Today. February 13, 2014

Griswold, Daniel. “Four Decades of Failure: The U.S. Embargo against Cuba”. October 12, 2005

Tamayo, Juan O. “Helms-Burton law has a lot of requirements for normalizing U.S. relations with Havana.”  Miami Herald Cuba. February 26, 2013

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