The US should end its embargo on Cuba

Oct 24, 2022

The US should end its embargo on Cuba

Florida has long been home to Cuban immigrants fleeing the Fidel Castro regime and its successors. Since the island nation became a totalitarian state in 1959, its people have fallen victim to numerous human rights violations. Dissent is not permitted as the state squashes protests. However, the U.S. embargo on Cuba needs to come to an end.

The United States’ history with Cuba is complicated. Following the end of Spanish rule in 1898, the U.S. controlled the island as a protectorate. Even after Cuba gained independence, the Platt Amendment allowed the U.S. to continue intervening in the new nation’s affairs. The Movimiento 26 de julio, of which Fidel Castro was a leader, sprung up in opposition to the U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista. After Castro came to power, the U.S. began an embargo, effectively ceasing trade between the two nations.

The embargo, known in Cuba as el bloqueo, has severely limited Cuba’s potential to expand economically. Cuba is a mere 90 miles from the world’s largest economy, but it is financially marooned. Since the fall of the USSR, a major backer of Cuba, the island has been in despair. During the Special Period economic crisis of the 1990s, many Cubans facing starvation even resorted to eating cats.

Cuba’s government has been remarkably resilient; its people are the true victims of the embargo. Sanctions deprive Cubans of basic access to prescription drugs, food items, and consumer products. Moreover, the embargo has not succeeded in sparking regime change or reform in the Cuban government. It has only made life for Cubans more difficult.

The U.S. stands to benefit from ending the economic sanctions on Cuba as well. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that the U.S. has lost $1.2 billion annually and 6,000 jobs due to the embargo. Completely blocking off a potential trading partner only 90 miles from American shores is absurd. The effects are even greater in Florida, which would stand to benefit economically from renewed diplomatic relations.

Furthermore, 2.7 million Americans were born in Cuba or claim Cuban heritage. Tensions between the Cuban and U.S. governments have prevented relatives from seeing each other for three generations. Tourism revenue from Americans visiting Cuba and vice versa would be remarkable for both Florida’s and Cuba’s economies.

Economic reasons aside, easing relations with our neighbors in the Caribbean is important. Cubans and Americans would be able to interact politically and culturally for the first time in decades. It is hypocritical to promote democracy and human rights in Cuba while drastically restricting the island’s access to travel and cultural exchange.

Americans need to come to terms with the fact that the Cuban government is partially a product of failed foreign policy. We have witnessed this in multiple Latin American countries where the U.S. has intervened for its own benefit (Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Chile are just a few examples). Had the U.S. left Cuba alone during the first half of the 20th century, Fidel Castro’s revolution may never have taken place.

The Cuban government is by no means benevolent or innocent; it suppresses Cubans’ fundamental human rights repeatedly. Resuming relations with the island by no means endorses its government’s actions. It only alleviates the struggle that Cubans endure under the regime. The U.S. should be wary of relationships with supporters of oppression; however, the embargo on Cuba has failed to bring about any change. Ending it would improve the lives of both Cubans and Americans.