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Simon Gorbaty

10/3/14
An Incapable Embargo
Many writers have described the Socialist regime in Cuba as a
thorn in the side for the United States.1 Shortly after Communist
revolutionary Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba in 1959, he declared
the Caribbean island Socialist, and began the process of nationalizing
nearly all properties, many of which were owned by the U.S. In
response, the U.S. government lowered the amount of sugar imported
from the island. The Soviet Union, whose socioeconomic system was
the foundation for Cuba’s, offered to import the sugar instead. This was
during the Cold War, and the U.S. could not stand by as a country 90
miles away aligned itself with the Communist “evil empire” of the
U.S.S.R. On October 19, 1960, Washington declared an embargo on
nearly all exports to Cuba. President John F. Kennedy extended the
sanctions in 1962 to include all imports.2 The trade restrictions have
now stood for over fifty years, for the purpose of being lifted only when
Cuba makes its transition into a Democracy. But the thorn of Cuba still
stands, giving the U.S. a bad reputation amongst Cubans, and
demonstrating that the sanctions have proved ineffective regardless of
the high costs. Therefore, it is in the national interest of the United

1 Knos, Michele, and Heather N. Nicol. "Chapter 2." In Foreign policy toward Cuba: isolation or
engagement?. Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 2005. 31.

2

Wikimedia Foundation. "United States embargo against Cuba." Wikipedia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_embargo_against_Cuba (accessed October 2, 2014).

States to lift the embargo on Cuba, in order to destroy the Socialist
regime in the country.
The obstruction of trade and travel is a reason for Cubans to
despise the U.S., and disposing of it is what will make Cubans see the
advantages of U.S. policy. Professor Alexis Romay, an author who was
raised in Cuba and currently teaches at Newark Academy, describes
the sanctions as making hating America a “second sport” for Cubans
(after baseball).3 If the embargo is lifted, U.S. corporations, seeing
Cuba as a potential market for their goods,4 will begin to export
numerous beneficial products that most Cubans have never seen
before, such as modern cars. The Cuban people will realize that the
U.S. is not an evil power, and capitalism is not entirely “repugnant,” as
Fidel Castro once stated.5 The once-supporters of Socialist will begin to
oppose it, leading to protests that will pressure the government into
making democratic reforms. In the late 1980’s, Mikhail Gorbachev, the
last general secretary of the U.S.S.R., instituted Glasnost and
Perestroika, programs which aimed at reducing censorship, and
exposing corruption and abuses of power in the political classes. They
also opened travelling opportunities to and from capitalist countries.6
3 Romay, Alexis. "Cuba." Lecture, 8th Grade Common from Joseph Ball, Livingston, New Jersey, September
23, 2014.

4

"Should the U.S. normalize relations with Cuba?." Infobase Learning.
http://icof.infobaselearning.com/articles/global-issues-and-world-politics/cuba-policy.aspx?
sr=1&articleID=6314 (accessed October 2, 2014).

5 "Fidel Castro Quotes." Popular Quotes from Famous Authors. http://www.quoteauthors.com/quotes/fidelcastro-quotes.html (accessed October 4, 2014).

6 "Perestroika and glasnost." Perestroika and glasnost. http://www.slideshare.net/SanzDanton/perestroikaand-glasnost (accessed October 4, 2014).

Over a thousand Americans visited the Soviet Union, and in the
process showed the Soviet citizens that the United States wasn’t the
enemy that the government has claimed they were. Similarly, current
U.S. led programs for promoting democracy, human rights, and free
flow of information in Cuba can only reach their full potential if trade
and travel is resumed to and from the island. As former governor of
Florida Charlie Crist said in a recent statement, "If we want to bring
democracy to Cuba, we need to encourage American values and
investment there."7 Once taught these values, most Cubans will begin
to welcome U.S. policy.
Not only is the United States being despised because of the
embargo, but also being hurt. The costs of the sanctions to the U.S.
economy stand between 1.2 billion and 4.8 billion dollars every year8,
and this is not justifiable; the embargo has not achieved its goal of
dismantling the Socialist regime in Cuba. According to the Department
of State in 1959, the objective of the embargo was to “cause hunger
and despair”9 to the Cuban people, in hopes that this would force Fidel
Castro to make democratic reforms. Yet, Cuba is still mainly Socialist,
simply because countries that did benefit from Cuba’s regime
supported it economically. Until its collapse in 1991, the Soviet Union
7 "Crist: End the Cuba embargo." CNN Political Ticker RSS.
http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2014/02/08/crist-end-the-cuba-embargo/ (accessed October 4, 2014).

8 "Cuba Embargo - ProCon.org." ProConorg Headlines. http://cuba-embargo.procon.org (accessed October
2, 2014).

9 "CETIM - CETIM's statements at the UN - North America, ESCR, Human rights, Embargo, Economic
sanctions,." CETIM http://www.cetim.ch/en/interventions_details_print.php?iid=215 (accessed October 4,
2014).

was Cuba’s primary trade partner, maintaining stability on the island
for the duration of the Cold War. Now, Cuba still has trade partners that
the U.S. cannot influence, such as Venezuela, Brazil and Bolivia. These
countries benefit from the Castro’s regime, since it produces an
excessive amount of doctors in Cuba, a resource the South American
countries lack. For instance, many of these doctors are by the Cuban
government to work overseas in Venezuela, in exchange for crude oil.10
This oil powers the machines used in Cuba’s largely nationalized
agricultural industry, keeping the Cuban people from starving and the
Cuban economy alive. Clearly, the sanctions have not deprived Cuba of
its resources, as expected. Furthermore, inability of immigration to the
United States from the island is causing Cuban Americans to send their
relatives in Cuba 1.4-2 billion dollars annually in remittances.11 This is
possibly the largest source of income for the Cuban economy. Thus, it
is perfectly correct to say that the embargo is a misuse of American
money, which only strengthens the Cuban State.
Some see that the embargo must be maintained because the
Cuban government has not “met the conditions required to lift it,”12
which involve taking steps toward Democracy. In truth, Raul Castro
does not need to meet U.S. demands, as the Socialist regime had

10 "The Cuban Paradox." Foreign Policy.
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/01/06/the_cuban_paradox (accessed October 4, 2014).

11 U.S. Department of State. "U.S. Relations With Cuba." U.S. Department of State.
http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2886.htm (accessed October 3, 2014).

12 "Cuba Embargo - ProCon.org." ProConorg Headlines. http://cuba-embargo.procon.org (accessed
October 2, 2014).

been, and still remains, stable on its own domestic infrastructure with
reliance on its aforementioned trade partners. Ironically, the steps
toward reaching the intended Democracy in Cuba can be taken by
lifting the embargo. When she was Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton
asserted “the Castros do not want to see an end to the embargo…
because they would lose all of their excuses for what hasn’t happened
in Cuba in the last 50 years.”13 Likewise in Cuba, human rights activist
Elizabeth Cruz believes, “sanctions policy gives the government a good
alibi to justify the failure of the totalitarian model in Cuba.”14 Indeed,
revoking the embargo would allow many Cubans to discover that a lot
of the promises by the government that were never kept, as well as the
negative points the country has been through since the Revolution such as the economic crisis following the defunct Soviet Union
cancelling trade - cannot be blamed on the sanctions, as Fidel Castro
had constantly insisted. Unwilling to have a subsequent Revolution that
will likely end up in getting overthrown, Raul Castro and his
government will have to republicanize their principles, as well as
expand on earlier changes made by Raul, to keep the country quiet.
Nonetheless, such a series of events can only be initiated by the United
States, and their choice to eliminate the embargo.

13 "Time to End the Cuba Embargo." The National Interest. http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/thepointless-cuba-embargo-7834 (accessed October 4, 2014).

14"Time to End the Cuba Embargo." The National Interest. http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/thepointless-cuba-embargo-7834 (accessed October 4, 2014).

If a thorn is not removed, it will continue to itch. Cuba may never
recover to the same level it was at in the presence of the Soviet Union,
but it continues to itch the United States of America. Contemporary
U.S. politicians are constantly criticized for their inability to act and
solve the nation’s problems, and this is just another example. Even
with several recent modifications, the embargo on Cuba is still a trigger
pushing U.S. policy back in time, costing the U.S. money and
reputation, for nothing. To remove the thorn of Socialist Cuba, there
must be action amongst the U.S. leaders to abolish the sanctions, and
lead the island nation to a Democracy.

I have completed this assignment in accordance with the Newark Academy Honor Code

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Bibliography
Knos, Michele, and Heather N. Nicol. Foreign policy toward Cuba: isolation or
engagement?. Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 2005.

Wikimedia Foundation. "United States embargo against Cuba." Wikipedia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_embargo_against_Cuba (accessed
October 2, 2014).
Romay, Alexis. "Cuba." Lecture, 8th Grade Common from Joseph Ball, Livingston, New
Jersey, September 23, 2014.
"Should the U.S. normalize relations with Cuba?." Infobase Learning.
http://icof.infobaselearning.com/articles/global-issues-and-world-politics/cubapolicy.aspx?sr=1&articleID=6314 (accessed October 2, 2014).
"Fidel Castro Quotes." Popular Quotes from Famous Authors.
http://www.quoteauthors.com/quotes/fidel-castro-quotes.html (accessed October
4, 2014).
"Perestroika and glasnost." Perestroika and glasnost.
http://www.slideshare.net/SanzDanton/perestroika-and-glasnost (accessed
October 4, 2014).
"Crist: End the Cuba embargo." CNN Political Ticker RSS.
http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2014/02/08/crist-end-the-cuba-embargo/
(accessed October 4, 2014).
"Cuba Embargo - ProCon.org." ProConorg Headlines. http://cuba-embargo.procon.org
(accessed October 2, 2014).
"CETIM - CETIM's statements at the UN - North America, ESCR, Human rights,
Embargo, Economic sanctions,." CETIM
http://www.cetim.ch/en/interventions_details_print.php?iid=215 (accessed
October 4, 2014).
U.S. Department of State. "U.S. Relations With Cuba." U.S. Department of State.
http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2886.htm (accessed October 3, 2014).
"The Cuban Paradox." Foreign Policy.
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/01/06/the_cuban_paradox (accessed
October 4, 2014).
"Time to End the Cuba Embargo." The National Interest.
http://nationalinterest.org/commentary/the-pointless-cuba-embargo-7834
(accessed October 4, 2014).