Last month marked the 50th anniversary of the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba. President John Kennedy put the embargo in place as punishment to Fidel Castro’s regime. The U.S. hoped the embargo would force Castro into accepting democratic reforms and allowing more political and economic freedom for Cubans.
Fifty years later, the Cuban embargo has only succeeded in decreasing the quality of life for Cubans and has given the Cuban government a scapegoat for their economic and political mismanagement. An Angus Reid Public Opinion poll conducted in February showed that 62 percent of Americans supported re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba, with only 23 percent disagreeing. The current embargo includes several stringent requirements: Vessels which dock in Cuban ports are prohibited from entering the U.S. for 180 days, no article produced with more than 10 percent Cuban components can enter the U.S. and companies that do business in Cuba are often denied U.S. visas.
No other country in the world embargoes Cuba like the U.S. does. Every year for the past 20 years a United Nations resolution has been passed condemning America’s embargo against Cuba. In 2010, 186 countries signed it; only the U.S. and Israel voted against it. Cubans feel the day-to-day effects of the embargo, while the Castro regime uses it as an excuse for their failed economic and political policies.
President Barack Obama deserves recognition for lifting bans on Cuban Americans’ ability to travel to Cuba and for sending remittances to families in Cuba. America should continue to scale back the embargo and eventually end it completely. It is also vital for the U.S. to reestablish diplomatic ties with Cuba. Once the embargo ends, America’s economic and diplomatic influence will help move Cuba towards democratic reform.
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