Should the U.S. End Its Cuba Embargo?
The 43-year-old embargo has severely restricted trade and travel between the two nations. Its value and impact are hotly disputed.
- Grades: 6–8, 9–12
The United States is the only nation that still has a trade embargo against Cuba. After four decades, it's clear that our policy has failed to achieve its goals: the end of Fidel Castro's regime and a peaceful transition to democracy. Today, Cuba remains under totalitarian rule, with Castro still firmly in power. The real victims of our policies are the 11 million innocent Cuban men, women, and children.
Our embargo has exacerbated already-miserable living conditions for Cuban citizens. Cuba's economy has suffered because it is prohibited from exporting goods to the U.S. In addition, most Cubans have very limited access to American products. Moreover, our policies restrict Americans' right to travel freely to Cuba, making exchange between our two cultures essentially impossible.
There are many other countries whose governments are not freely elected. Yet none of our policies toward these nations resemble our treatment of Cuba.
With the Cold War over and Cuba posing no threat to the U.S.. there is no justification for our outdated approach to Cuba. To make matters worse, we are spending extraordinary resources to enforce the embargo—resources that could be used to secure our nation against terrorism.
It's time for a fundamental change in our Cuba policy. We can start by ending the trade embargo and by lifting the ban on travel to Cuba by American citizens. Only by engaging the Cuban people, and by building bridges between our citizens and theirs, will we succeed in bringing freedom and democracy to our neighbor.
—Senator Christopher J. Dodd
Democrat of Connecticut
The embargo against Cuba has been a valuable tool in putting pressure on Cuba to reform. Lifting the embargo now would send the wrong message to the Castro regime. It would give undeserved credibility to a regime that came to power through revolution, promised democratic elections, and never delivered.
One of the original goals of the embargo was to limit Castro's ability to support Communist revolutions in other countries. For many years Castro sent Cuban troops to foment revolution around Latin America and in Africa. The embargo has forced a significant reduction in the size of Cuba's military, so Castro no longer has the money to do this. (The embargo was also intended to drain resources from the Soviet Union, which spent billions of dollars a year to prop up the Castro regime.)
The embargo remains an important way to restrict the flow of funds that end up in the hands of the Cuban government—money it would use not to feed its people, but to spy on its own citizens, censor information available to them, and lock up political opponents. Even money that well-meaning tourists spent in Cuba would end up mostly in the government's hands, and would therefore support the corrupt regime rather than helping the Cuban people.
Along with the positive things we're doing to help end the Castro regime—such as funding Cuban opposition groups and transmitting objective news via TV and radio—the embargo continues to play an important role in encouraging a democratic transition in Cuba.
—Jorge Mas Santos, Chairman
Cuban American National Foundation