United States embargo against Cuba
The United States embargo against Cuba prevents American businesses, and businesses organized under US law or majority-owned by citizens of the United States, from conducting trade with Cuban interests. The first US embargo was on the sale of arms to Cuba in 1958, it was extended in 1960 to include exports to Cuba except for food and medicine. In 1962, the embargo was extended to include almost all exports. The United Nations General Assembly has passed a resolution every year since 1992 demanding the end of the US economic blockade on Cuba, with the US and Israel being the only nations to consistently vote against the resolutions.
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- President Joe Biden has yet to reverse his predecessor's damaging policy moves toward Cuba, despite growing pressure to do so. During a press conference on Thursday, Biden said he does not intend to ease a policy barring people in the U.S. from sending money to their Cuban relatives on the island. In recent days, Biden administration officials have downplayed the role of the U.S. embargo in causing acute food and medicine shortages in Cuba, issues that the coronavirus pandemic has made substantially worse.
- The embargo is absurdly cruel and, like too many other U.S. policies targeting Latin Americans, the cruelty is the point... I outright reject the Biden administration's defense of the embargo. It is never acceptable for us to use cruelty as a point of leverage against every day people... We also must name the U.S. contribution to Cuban suffering: our 60-year-old embargo.
- The United States does not just wage war on children with bombs, missiles, and bullets. It also wages economic war in ways that disproportionately affect children, preventing countries like Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea from importing essential food and medicines or obtaining the resources they need to buy them. These sanctions are a brutal form of economic warfare and collective punishment that leave children dying from hunger and preventable diseases, especially during this pandemic. U.N. officials have called for the International Criminal Court to investigate unilateral U.S. sanctions as crimes against humanity. The Biden Administration should immediately lift all unilateral economic sanctions. Will President Joe Biden act to protect the children of the world from America’s most tragic and indefensible war crimes? Nothing in his long record in public life suggests that he will, unless the American public, and the rest of the world, act collectively and effectively to insist that America must end its war on children and finally become a responsible, law-abiding member of the human family.
- For far too long, American politicians have been sanctions-crazed.... Last month, the Trump administration sanctioned Mexican companies for seeking to supply food to Venezuela.... Three senators introduced a bill designed to punish countries that accept help from Cuban doctors, which would include Italy, Ukraine, Jamaica, and South Africa.... Leaders of countries suddenly facing the threat of punishment for accepting Cuban doctors have reacted with anger and incredulity... it would leave more than 50 countries with the choice of either expelling Cuban doctors at a moment of global pandemic or facing American opprobrium. The prime minister of tiny Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, protested that his country relies on Cuban doctors and pointedly added, “Those who would like us to do otherwise should undertake to fill the breach.” ...Most remarkably, Congress is moving to sanction Germany, a major ally for generations, because it is building a gas pipeline to Russia.
- President Trump strengthened the 60-year US blockade against my country, implementing 90 economic measures against Cuba between January 2019 and March 2020 alone. These measures have targeted the main sectors of the Cuban economy, including our financial transactions, tourism industry, energy sector, foreign investments - which are key for the development of the Cuban economy - and the medical cooperation programmes with other countries. These unilateral coercive measures are unprecedented in their level of aggression and scope... stopping Cuba from getting much-needed medical supplies... the US has imposed restrictions on banks, airlines and shipping companies to stop Cuba from receiving materials that other countries are donating or sending to Cuba.
- In April, the Alibaba Foundation of China tried to donate masks, rapid diagnostic kits and ventilators to Cuba, but the airline contracted by Alibaba to transport those items to Cuba refused to take the goods because they were afraid the US would sanction them. A ship recently arrived in Cuba with raw materials to produce medications but it decided not to unload... out of fear it would be sanctioned by the US government. So this is why we say we are suffering from two pandemics: COVID-19 and the US blockade. For that reason, it is so important that people of goodwill around the world continue to raise the demand to end the blockade of Cuba and to forcefully assert that these are times for solidarity and cooperation, not sanctions and blockades.
- Cuba, along with China, is sending doctors and supplies to a number of countries around the world to help them fight the pandemic... Washington is demonstrating the very opposite... removing all of its Peace Corps staff from around the world, and, even worse, increasing sanctions against countries like Cuba, Iran, Venezuela and Nicaragua during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak. It is accurate to say that the U.S. is weaponizing the virus against these countries...
As a number of religious scholars have warned, “plagues expose the foundations of injustice” in our societies. The current pandemic is exposing not only our government’s utter failures to protect its own citizens, but also its profound lack of human decency in dealing with other nations
- If we're leaving our fate to sociopathic buffoons, we're finished... We are talking about U.S. decline but you just look at the world, you don't see that when the U.S. imposes sanctions, murderous, devastating sanctions, that's the only country that can do that, but everyone has to follow... they have to follow the master, or else they get kicked out of the international financial system. That's not a law of nature, it's a decision in Europe to be subordinate to the master in Washington. Other countries don't even have a choice...
And back to the coronavirus, one of the most shocking harsh aspects of it, is the use of sanctions, to maximize the pain, perfectly consciously...Cuba has been suffering from it from the moment where it gained independence, but it's astonishing that they survived but they stayed resilient and one of the most ironic elements of today's virus crisis, is that Cuba is helping Europe... this is so shocking, that you don't know how to describe it. That Germany can't help Greece, but Cuba can help the European countries. If you stop to think about what that means, all words fail, just as when you see thousands of people dying in the Mediterranean, fleeing from a region that has been devastated... The Crisis, the civilizational crisis of the West at this point is devastating... it does bring up childhood memories of listening to Hitler raving on the radio to raucous crowds... it makes you wonder if this species is even viable.
- One of the things that we can learn [from] the Cubans is that they are highly politically conscientized. ...they understand what constitute progress and what constitute the enemy. And they have come to appreciate that they are in the situation they are because of the choice they have made, of not wanting to follow what the big brother America says they must do. And they know that if it was not [for the] illegal embargo imposed on them, they were actually going to be a much much more better country. Look at them, they have succeeded, the better education, better healthcare, the illiteracy levels are extreme low, under difficult circumstances. [The] quality of education, the quality of primary healthcare [of some country's without embargoes] is nothing compared to a country [Cuba] which is suffering from a serious economic embargo. So we can learn from the Cubans through their determination, through their appreciation that they are a unique nation, and have chosen their path, and they will lead by their conviction.
- Julius Malema in Cuba for Castro's funeral, SABC News (5 December 2016)
- The United States’ abstention on a resolution to end its economic embargo on Cuba-a first time it happens after opposing it for 24 years- is an implicit acknowledgement of the wrongness of such a measure. It has brought considerable and unnecessary suffering to the Cuban people and hasn’t brought any positive results to the U.S... By maintaining the embargo, the U.S. has been a target of derision throughout the world, as shown by the repeated and overwhelming U.N. Assembly decisions against the embargo in the last 24 years.
- Embargo on Cuba is an Embarrassment for the United States, Cesar Chelala, CounterPunch, 28 October 2016
- There is no doubt that political pressure from the powerful Cuban exile community in Florida has been an important factor in maintaining the U.S. embargo. However, the descendants of that immigrant generation have now a more nuanced view of the Cuban regime. In particular, they have seen the damage caused by decades of antagonism between both countries — and are eager for friendlier relations between them. While Cubans have always been clear about their admiration for the American people — which I have observed first hand during my visits to the island — the embargo has fostered more hate and mistrust of the U.S. government than of the Cuban government among Cubans.
- Embargo on Cuba is an Embarrassment for the United States, Cesar Chelala, CounterPunch, 28 October 2016
- If votes in the UN General Assembly are a test, no country in the world now supports the embargo. President Barack Obama has wisely eased restrictions on travel to the island by Cubans and their descendants. This policy should be followed by an intense exchange of scientists, doctors, artists and ordinary citizens. The effect would be dramatic in neutralizing the atmosphere of antagonism and should be followed by the rapid lifting of the embargo and the complete normalization of relations between both countries.
- Fifty years of isolating Cuba had failed to promote democracy. It set us back in Latin America. That's why we restored diplomatic relations, opened the door to travel and commerce, positioned ourselves to improve the lives of the Cuban people. So if you want to consolidate our leadership and credibility in the hemisphere, recognize that the cold war is over. Lift the embargo. The point is, American leadership in the 21st century is not a choice between ignoring the rest of the world—except when we kill terrorists—or occupying and rebuilding whatever society is unraveling. Leadership means a wise application of military power and rallying the world behind causes that are right. It means seeing our foreign assistance as a part of our national security, not something separate, not charity.
- President Obama’s decision to normalize relations with Cuba is a decision to recognize reality. For 50 years, the United States has pursued a policy that has failed. The embargo hurt the Cuban people it claimed to help and bolstered the regime that it intended to undermine. The effort to isolate Cuba has been increasingly isolating the United States both in the hemisphere and across the world. And as the president concluded, “I do not believe we can keep doing the same thing for over five decades and expect a different result.” To believe that would be, as Albert Einstein taught us, the very definition of insanity.
The best evidence that this change was long overdue was provided by the hysterical and incoherent reactions of its opponents. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a potential presidential contender, embraced the initiative, making an indisputable comment about the embargo: “If the goal is regime change, it sure doesn’t seem to be working.”
- [in Cuba Policy is a Nod to Reality, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, The Washington Post] (December 25, 2014)
- Today, the United States of America is changing its relationship with the people of Cuba... the United States has supported democracy and human rights in Cuba... primarily through policies that aimed to isolate the island, preventing the most basic travel and commerce that Americans can enjoy anyplace else. And though this policy has been rooted in the best of intentions, no other nation joins us in imposing these sanctions, and it has had little effect beyond providing the Cuban government with a rationale for restrictions on its people... Unfortunately, our sanctions on Cuba have denied Cubans access to technology that has empowered individuals around the globe. So I’ve authorized increased telecommunications connections between the United States and Cuba. Businesses will be able to sell goods that enable Cubans to communicate with the United States and other countries... we should not allow U.S. sanctions to add to the burden of Cuban citizens that we seek to help.
- Barack Obama, "Statement by the President on Cuba Policy Change" (17 December 2014)
- By making Cuba David against Goliath, the U.S. embargo provides the regime a rationale for its internal crackdowns while elevating its stature across the hemisphere and the developing world. Normalizing relations with Cuba enables the United States to advocate for individual liberty, without being seen as a bully trying to club a small neighbor into submission. Why, the president noted, should we continue to isolate Cuba when we normalized relations with communist Vietnam and communist China decades ago?
- [in Cuba Policy is a Nod to Reality, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, The Washington Post] (December 25, 2014)
- Latin America is not the same Latin America... the only country who vote against stopping the embargo, eliminating the embargo in the U.N. is United States and Israel. The world already has said that they don’t agree with the embargo against Cuba. I also think that — we mentioned Hugo Chávez. Hugo Chávez, Lula in Brazil, Correa in Ecuador have shifted this concept that Latin America is just a backyard of the United States, creating a new regional policy. And with that regionalization, both for TeleSUR—there are like four or five different organizations been created that allow Latin Americans to do more work among themselves, both economically and politically, including resolving some of the political issues within our region.
I also think it’s significant that when we talk about the U.S. arresting Noriega, that it comes off like the U.S. role has been to protect citizens from dictators. Every dictator that served the U.S., that was overthrown by their people, was protected by the U.S. Stroessner was taken to Brazil after he was overthrown. He was the most longest in power.
- If it weren’t bad enough that the U.S. has imposed an illegal embargo against Cuba for over 50 years, it has also tried to prevent those interested in learning about this embargo (more accurately termed a blockade because the U.S. aggressively enforces it against third countries to stop them from trading with the island) from reading Salim Lamrani’s new book, The Economic War Against Cuba.... author Salim Lamrani... explains that the U.S. war against post-revolutionary Cuba began on March 17, 1960 – one month before Cuba established relations with Moscow. Lamrani relates that this war, declared by President Eisenhower, was “built on several pillars: the cancellation of the Cuban sugar quota, an end to the deliveries of energy resources such as oil, the continuation of the arms embargo imposed in March 1958, the establishment of a campaign of terrorism and sabotage, and the organization of a paramilitary force designed to invade the island overthrow Fidel Castro.” This war would then be expanded by President Kennedy in 1962 to include the unprecedented economic blockade against Cuba – a blockade which continues to this day... it demonstrates what Noam Chomsky has argued numerous times before: that during the Cold War the U.S. intentionally pushed Third World countries guilty of declaring their independence from U.S. hegemony towards the Soviet Union so as to manufacture a convenient pretext for U.S. belligerence.... Indeed, the stated purpose of the blockade all along has been to inflict suffering on the Cuban people to achieve the U.S.’s political objective of regime – the sine a qua non of terrorism.
- The majority of the Cuban people support Castro. There is no effective political opposition... The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support is through disenchantment and disaffection and hardship... every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life of Cuba . . . a line of action which . . . makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government.
- Why does the U.S. government not lift the blockade against Cuba? I will answer: because it is afraid. It fears our example. It knows that if the blockade were lifted, Cuba’s economic and social development would be dizzying. It knows that we would demonstrate even more so than now, the possibilities of Cuban socialism, all the potential not yet fully deployed of a country without discrimination of any kind, with social justice and human rights for all citizens, and not just for the few. It is the government of a great and powerful empire, but it fears the example of this small insurgent island.
Colonel Lawrence B. Wilkerson, USA (Ret) U.S. Cuba Policy: Ending 50 Years of Failure, Prepared Testimony to the Committee on Finance United States Senate (11 December 2007)Edit
- Military power is the least likely instrument of national power to be successful if you decide to use it. A corollary truth with great relevance to Cuba is that sanctions, embargoes, closing embassies and withdrawing ambassadors, the silent treatment, branding other countries as evil and advocating and supporting regime change—all of these methods, even if actually backed by strong military power and the threat to use it, rarely work and, even when they appear to do so, the results they produce are usually negative and even when they are positive, are almost never long-lasting.
- Let's examine just two of the extremely negative impacts of our almost half-century of failure vis-à-vis Cuba:
- The U.S. has reconciled with the Communist governments in China and Vietnam. We support dictators throughout Central Asia under the strategic mantra of "contact and influence is better than isolation". We talked to the Communist Soviet Union for the duration of the Cold War. But we cannot bring ourselves to deal with Havana and have maintained that failed policy for almost half a century. It is simply absurd to continue to do so.
- The export of revolution at the behest of the Soviets has been transformed into the export of healthcare at the behest of the Cuban people. When I visited Cuba this past March, this was one of the areas of Cuban activity on which I focused—the delivery of first-class healthcare to impoverished people in Cuba, in Venezuela and elsewhere in South and Central America, and increasingly in sub-Saharan Africa.
- One of the most dramatic moments for me occurred when I visited one of Cuba's hospitals in Havana and plowed through a waiting room of people from all over the world—poor people who had come to this Cuban hospital largely to have eye surgery of some sort, many to have cataracts removed so their blindness or near-blindness would be eliminated. Speaking to some of them was, again, heartwarming. They all said that they were there because of Cuba's outreach. Again, this is powerful public diplomacy.
- We could learn much from how the Cubans deliver healthcare particularly applicable to our rural areas and our inner cities where impoverished people predominate. And in the process, the contact would benefit Cubans. They would be able to study what is strong and robust about the U.S. healthcare system—the high technology components, for example—and at the same time learn that freedom and democracy are pretty good items too.
- Cuba has probably been the target of more international terrorism than the rest of the world combined and, therefore, in the American ideological system it is regarded as the source of international terrorism, exactly as Orwell would have predicted.