Thesis: Cuban Embargo American-Cuban Sanctions Implications

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[. . .] The entire situation took over five months to resolve and only heightened tensions between the United States and Cuba. It called into question the reasonableness of many existing Cuban sanctions when an orphaned child could become the symbol of long-held hostilities and dissension between two countries. Many reflect on the incident as a yet another example of how the existing embargo agitates the Cuban people and other nations more than its intended target, Fidel Castro (Durand and McGuire 37).

Sanction Legality

The United Nations (U.N.) Charter has very specific laws regarding freedom of navigation and trade. Critics of the U.S. sanctions on Cuba cite the embargo as a violation of the U.N. Charter and damaging to America's international image and reputation ("Cuba: U.S. Moves to Change" 4). It is also the contention of many that the Helms-Burton Act of 1996 is extra-territorial because its treads on business interactions between Cuba and other nations who may also wish to do business with the United States (Rumbaut and Rumbaut 141). As Durand and McGuire point out, Cuban sanctions seem to defy international law in a way that signals disrespect to others across the globe (38).

There have been several proposed U.N. resolutions that condemn America's sanctions on Cuba, but most have fallen flat with the Security Council and have not been enacted (Rumbaut and Rumbaut 149). It can also be argued that Cuba is not entirely innocent and has defied some of the same U.N. resolutions it has accused the United States of. In particular, Cubans have put up armed blockades around embassies in its capital preventing citizens from seeking asylum (151). Cuban people are not afforded this right, despite U.N. disapproval.

Sanctions and the Economy

Most everyone agrees that lifting the U.S. embargo would greatly help Cuba's struggling economy. Merchandises would trade freely between the nations and result in improved employment for both Cuba and America (Smith 19). Automobiles, consumer products, electronics, tobacco, and clothing would be accessible by Cubans and offer a boost to the lagging U.S. economy (Barry 151). Further, Cuba would see a major transformation in its basic economic and business functioning. The proximity of the U.S. To Cuba offers a major benefit if the trade embargo were lifted. Currently, product shipments from China (for example) need at least six-weeks from transit. Conversely, shipments from Texas to Cuba would require little more than a week (Jenalia 13).

America could also realize major profits for farming exports. A very conservative relaxation of sanctions took place in 2000 and by 2010 sales of farm products to Cuba stood at nearly $350M (Rumbaut and Rumbaut 138). In rough, economic times there would be great benefit to America if free trade with Cuba were restored. Florida ports no longer hold treasured Cuban cigars and Texas ports lost many major imports of sugar and rice when the trade embargo took effect (144). It is estimated that U.S. trade with Cuba could be worth $2.6 billion (Smith 21).

Anti-Cuban critics believe, however, that even if sanctions were fully lifted, there is a great chance that Cuba will continue to simply source its products elsewhere, just as it does now (Becker 11). They posit that trade between the U.S. And Cuba will never reach its full potential and in the larger scheme of things the volume of business is relatively insignificant compared to our business dealings with other countries (Padgett et al. 62). For example, the Soviet Union has always supported Cuba with trade incentives and subsidies. In addition, Cuba's ties to Venezuela offer another workaround for them to obtain skilled workers such as educators and medical professionals. Cuba is still very oil rich and can leverage it for trade purposes; trade with the U.S. is not necessary. Many argue that at this point it is not wise to give up our national commitment to the freedom of the Cuban people just for economic gain (Rumbaut and Rumbaut 150). They believe it is better to stand firm in our conviction that Cubans deserve more than corrupt and oppressive dictatorship.

Looking Ahead: Sanctions in the Future

It is worth noting that most sanctions are supported by a very small group of Cuban Americans in the swing state of Florida who have grown in power and influence during presidential elections (Becker 7). A Republican constituency in Florida also fights to keep sanctions in place. However, most Americas oppose the Cuban trade embargo. A 2009 national opinion poll asked the question: "Do you think the United States should or should not re-establish diplomatic and trade relations with Cuba?" Nearly 70% responded "yes" (12). Yet Washington leaders continue to focus on policies that relate mostly to national security vs. public opinion.

Many argue that the Cold War has long since ended and that the United States should abandon its old position and entertain a fresh approach to working through issues with Cuba. President Barack Obama has been urged to lift Cuban sanctions throughout his time in office (LaFranchi 4). However, he has spoken out strongly against the treatment of Cuban citizens and indicated many times that unless there is more progress toward democratic freedoms for people in the country (i.e., freedom of the press, freedom for political prisoners, etc.) there cannot be further serious discussion regarding lifting the embargo or other restrictions (Becker 20). Cuba, on the other hand, has been steadfast in its position to rule as it sees fit and remain a communist nation.

As stated previously, President Obama has taken small steps to help facilitate communications and exchanges between Cuban-Americans and their families on the island. Many believe this is more of an effort on behalf of the Obama administration to showcase how the President is nothing like former President Bush and also signal to the rest of Latin America and other U.S. adversaries that the times, and policies, are changing (Smith 20). In addition, the slow economy in both countries presents a business case for resuming open and free trade. Still, it remains a complicated matter and appears that the trade embargo will continue until a completely new Cuban regime comes into power and signals its readiness to work towards major change (Becker 22). A new American policy direction may come one day, but as history has shown, our national leaders will likely hold their position on sanctions until our deeply held tenets of "freedom and justice for all" reach Cuban shores.

References

Barry, M. "Effect Of the U.S. Embargo and Economic Decline on Health in Cuba." Annals of Internal Medicine 132.2 (2000): 151-154. MEDLINE with Full Text. Web. 4 Dec. 2012.

Becker, Douglas. "Using Simulations to Build a Predictive Model: Changing Conditions and the Future of the U.S. Trade Embargo on Cuba." Conference Papers -- International Studies Association (2010): 1-23. Academic Search Premier. Web. 4 Dec. 2012.

"CUBA: U.S. Moves to Change Policy toward Cuba." Current Events 108.24 (2009): 4. Primary Search. Web. 4 Dec. 2012.

Ciment, James. "U.S. Eases Sanctions On Cuba." BMJ: British Medical Journal (International Edition) 316.7138 (1998): 1115. Academic Search Premier. Web. 4 Dec. 2012.

Durand, Cliff, and Mike McGuire. "U.S. Embargo Walls Us In." Academe 90.5 (2004): 34-38. ERIC. Web. 4 Dec. 2012.

Jenalia, Moreno. "U.S. Coalition Wants End to Cuba Trade Embargo." Houston Chronicle (TX) (n.d.): 12-13. Newspaper Source. Web. 4 Dec. 2012.

LaFranchi, Howard. "Will Obama ease U.S. policy toward Cuba?." Christian Science Monitor 15 Dec. 2008: 4. Academic Search Premier. Web. 4 Dec. 2012.

Padgett, Tim, Calabresi, Massimo, Grace, Julie, Mascarenas, Dolly. "Cuba's New Look." Time 154.23… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Cuban Embargo American-Cuban Sanctions Implications.  (2012, December 6).  Retrieved April 20, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/cuban-embargo-american-sanctions/7852416

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"Cuban Embargo American-Cuban Sanctions Implications."  Essaytown.com.  December 6, 2012.  Accessed April 20, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/cuban-embargo-american-sanctions/7852416.