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The U.S. Cuban Embargo
Anika Sharma

Nov 03, 2023

The U.S. Cuban Embargo is one of the longest standing economic sanctions the U.S. still has implemented. How did this embargo come to be? What is it?

The Cuban Embargo was established in 1962, and called for comprehensive economic sanctions on Cuba by the United States. President John F. Kennedy issued an executive order which expanded the United States’ trade restrictions on all of Cuba. The restrictions include restrictions on travel and remittance as well as trade and financial sanctions. 

The embargo was enacted as a result of increasing tensions between Cuba and the United States. During the 1960s, the height of the Cold War, Americans were skeptical of communist states. At the time, the top priority for the American government was to stop the spread of communism and protect American democracy. Cuba was a close ally of the Soviet Union and therefore posed a threat to the United States. As a result, President Kennedy imposed an expanded embargo on Cuba. 

The Cuban Embargo has lapsed several times, most notably under Presidents Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama. Former President Jimmy Carter called for the end of the economic embargo against Cuba and wanted to reestablish cordial relations with Cuba. Similarly, former President Obama announced his intention to re-establish relations with Cuba through lifting some restrictions on U.S. citizen travel to Cuba. Although both former presidents attempted to lift the embargo completely, they were not able to due to lack of congress’ support. 

Many scholars and politicians still today question the effectiveness of the embargo. Many have pointed out that the embargo has worsened economic conditions in both the United States and Cuba. On the other hand others have argued that the embargo is necessary to prevent Cuban aggression and enable the U.S. to apply pressure on the Cuban government. We have yet to see if the Cuban Embargo will ever be fully lifted or remain in place.  

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