US foreign policy regarding trade with Cuba
Fall 2018-Power 1
Cuba and the United States have not always been on good terms. There have been plenty of issues between the two countries. Initially the United States helped Cuba gain their independence from Spain. Starting in the 1850s America was divided between proslavery and antislavery politics and one of the many fights was over the Spanish colony of Cuba. Pro-slavery lawmakers want to buy Cuba from Spain, or take it by force, to turn it into a new slave state while anti-slavery politicians oppose this calling it imperialism. Later in 1898 after slavery is over Americans have a different version of this same argument when Cubans rise up against Spain, the United States joins them starting the Spanish-American war. Americans are divided again wondering should the United States seize Cuba from Spain for itself and liberate the island or whether they should explicitly become a european-style imperial power. This is an argument about Cuba, but it’s also an argument about America. What kind of country it should be should America be, the kind of country that controls Cuba or that respects it as a fellow sovereign nation, and that argument has continued in different forms. In 1898, the fight happens in Congress each side passes laws trying to force their way and it ends up with a split baby policy with Cuba winning independence but other quasi imperial American rule the United States would take over Guantanamo Bay, dictate Cuba’s foreign policy and give itself the right to intervene in Cuban affairs then came the American interventions in Cuba. This was the start of all the conflicts America and Cuba will soon face.
The biggest issue America and Cuba have is the embargo America placed on Cuba which started over forty years ago, during President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s administration as US-Cuban relations deteriorated during the first two years after the Cuban revolution (LeoGrande). In 1959, Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista was overthrown by Fidel Castro’s rebels and our relationship with the country we once fought for liberation for, became strained. Castro reached out to the US President Eisenhower rejected, in which he his advances and within months he was plotting to help overthrow Cuba’s new leader. The United States slashed trade with Cuba in 1960 placing strict quotas on the country’s sugar. The Cubans reacted by going into business with the Soviet Union. America’s response was a trade embargo and when Castro seized all american assets in Cuba diplomatic ties broke down completely in 1961. The new President John F. Kennedy approved an invasion of Cuba which had been planned by the previous administration. A brigade of Cuban exiles trained by the CIA was sent to Guantanamo and was defeated miserably by Castro’s army in three days in a battle known as the Bay of Pigs. The failed invasion was a major embarrassment for the United States and only strengthened Cuba’s ties with the Soviet Union and the spirit of resistance. In October 1962, as Kennedy ordered a naval blockade of the island the world considered the very real possibility of nuclear war. After 13 tense days and negotiations through backchannels the Soviet missiles eventually left Cuba. In return for the secret withdrawal of american missiles in Turkey the United States intends to follow closely the completion of this work through a variety of means the following year. Kennedy had a hotline installed in the Oval Office giving the US and Soviet leaders the means for direct communication within minutes. In 1980 facing growing political and economic pressure Castro announced that anyone who wanted to leave Cuba could do so.
In an extraordinary move the United States is pursuing full diplomatic relations with Cuba, but this does not mean the end to the economic embargo, which only Congress can fully remove. It has been an absolute disaster for both the United States and Cuba. Here are several reasons why the embargo should end. American diplomats in Havana admit that the embargo was a failure. The goal of the embargo was to put pressure on the Cuban government economic, pressure that was supposed to create popular anger and resistance to the government and eventually overthrowing. Sanctions have failed to ruin Cuba’s economy. “False as the economics behind the blame-shifting are, Cuba’s dictators have assigned fault to the U.S. when explaining the chronic shortages of food and supplies (Savickas).” Another reason is the embargo has probably killed the Cubans. The 1992 Cuba democracy Act restricted the flow of medical guns into Cuba from the United States. This resulted in a precipitous decline in access to medical supplies inside Cuba. Finally, it has hurt the image of the United States around the world to have maintained an incoherent economic policy towards Cuba, particularly as we engage in trade with other communist countries (Rangel). According to a 2010 review by two Stanford researchers they believed that the lack of access to this medicine was responsible for several disease outbreaks in the country including, an increase in tuberculosis fatalities. The embargo has not significantly reduced jiva’s human rights abuses, for example Cuba has a terrible human rights record. Among other things it’s one of the worst countries and freedom in the press in the Western Hemisphere and it throw dissidents and bloggers into jail merely for criticizing the regime.However there’s zero evidence that the sanctions regime has done anything to make those abuses better. Almost the entire world opposes the United States. For 23 years the United Nations has voted to condemn the American policy towards Cuba. The last vote in 2014 saw 188 out of 193 UN member states opposing it in the General Assembly.
There are factors of the embargo that are a disadvantage to both the United States and Cuba. One reason the of the Cuban embargo is Cuba has not met the conditions the United States has set. The condition is simply, Cuba must legalize all political activity, release all political prisoners, commit to free and fair elections in the transition to representative democracy, grant freedom to the press, respect internationally recognized human rights, and allow labor unions. Ending the embargo before Cuba imposes the condition the United States set makes America risk sending a message to the other countries that the United States will easily let up on any deal previously made. Since there is no private sector in Cuba, opening trade would only help the government, not regular Cuban citizens. Due to the Cuban government owning the majority of the economy, it guarantees they will benefit form the trade with the America. On the other hand there are issues that are factors that are an advantage to ending the Cuban embargo. The primary factor is that it will help the United States economy. “The Cuban government estimates that the embargo has cost Cuba an estimated average of $2.19 billion a year since 1959, a figure that may be quite conservative in light of several factors(Coll).” Having the embargo in effect actually hurts the people of Cuba, instead of the Cuban government, like it was intended to. Many Cubans are denied the basic medical, technology, and food. Lifting the embargo would put pressure on Cuba to address problems that it had previously blamed on United States sanctions.the Cuban government will have to finally take ownership of their failing healthcare system and their lack of access to medicine.
The best option overall is to officially end the Cuban embargo as a whole. Essentially the main focus of the embargo was to harm the Cuban government for association with our arch nemesis at the time. Along with how much money the embargo is costing America to keep it up, it is affecting the people of Cuba, rather than the government. Raul Castro, who took over after Fidel, appeared to signal an end to hostilities with America, calling better relations mutually beneficial. Today the United States of America is changing its relationship with the people of Cuba. In 2014 US President Barack Obama and Raul Castro both signaled a new beginning in relations. Their announcements followed Cuba’s release of Alan Gross, a US government worker who’d served five years in prison in Cuba. The release of the three members of the Cuban Five who remained in jail the two leaders met face to face in 2015. Their discussion at the summit of the Americas was the first such meeting between the United States and Cuban heads of state in more than 50 years. Unfortunately the the embargo has been placed again.
LeoGrande, William M. “A Policy Long Past Its Expiration Date: US Economic Sanctions Against Cuba.” Social Research, vol. 82, no. 4, Winter 2015, pp. 939–966. EBSCOhost, dcccd.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com.dcccd.idm.oclc.org/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=115775894&site=ehost-live.
RANGEL, CHARLES. “Free Trade with Cuba Now.” Harvard Journal on Legislation, vol. 52, no. 2, July 2015, pp. 327–341. EBSCOhost, dcccd.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com.dcccd.idm.oclc.org/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=110564136&site=ehost-live.
Coll, Alberto R. “Harming Human Rights in the Name of Promoting Them: The Case of the Cuban Embargo.” UCLA Journal of International Law & Foreign Affairs, vol. 12, no. 2, Fall 2007, pp. 199–273. EBSCOhost, dcccd.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com.dcccd.idm.oclc.org/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=35425182&site=ehost-live.
Savickas, Daniel. “Cuba, and the Multi-Decade Failure of Economic Sanctions.” RealClearMarkets, FreedomWorks, 19 Sept. 2018, www.realclearmarkets.com/articles/2018/09/19/cuba_and_the_multi-decade_failure_of_economic_sanctions_103420.html.
Drain, Paul K., and Michele Barry. “GLOBAL HEALTH 50 Years of U.S. Embargo: Cuba’s Health Consequences and Lessons.” Science (New York, N.Y.), U.S. National Library of Medicine, 30 Apr. 2010, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3990013/.