Since the Cuban Missile Crisis in the 1960’s, the relationship that the US has had with Cuba has been tense at best. A long standing embargo that was designed to “encourage” the Cuban government to embrace capitalism has not worked. The result has been an economy in Cuba that has been rather stagnant and stuck in the 1960’s in a wide variety of ways. It has also had a negative effect on the American economy to the tune of nearly $5 billion annually.
There are some pros and cons of the Cuban embargo that should be considered before it is unilaterally lifted. Here is a look at a select few for consideration.
The Pros of the Cuban Embargo
The conditions of lifting have already been set and not met.
In 1996, the US passed an act that clearly dictated what the Cuban government needed to do to lift the embargo from their country. Included in the list of dictations was a legalization of all political activities, the release of political prisoners, and allow labor unions.
Cuba has always responded to an ease in restrictions with aggression.
There have been three separate attempts to reduce the effects of the embargo on Cuba by the United States in the past and each was met with aggression. When Jimmy Carter opened an embassy in Cuba in 1977, for example, the Cuban government sent 125k immigrants to the US that were people with mental illness issues or a criminal history – in effect, the people that Castro didn’t want on his island.
Lifting the embargo would only help the Cuban government.
There are virtually no businesses in Cuba that are privately owned. This means that any financial gains from the lifting of the embargo would be experienced by the government and not necessarily filter down to the population. It is estimated that $0.90 of every US dollar would go directly to the government.
The Cons of the Cuban Embargo
It is an ineffective relic of the Cold War.
The Cuban embargo was a good idea in theory, but it just hasn’t worked. It’s been in place for over 50 years and there has been very little movement in the areas of human rights or political change. The Castro family has remained in charge for virtually the entire time and no longer poses a military threat to the country.
It harms the US economy.
If the embargo were lifted today, it is estimated that 6,000 new FTEs would be created in the United States. His would result in a minimum $1.2 billion stimulus to the economy. That might not seem like much when budgets are in the trillions of dollars, but that’s real value to the households who would be able to make a living thanks to open trade with Cuba.
It’s the population of Cuba that is harmed the most.
Doctors in Cuba have access to less than half of the drugs that are currently available to the rest of the world. Food shortages in Cuba have seen caloric intake drops across the entire population while the rest of the world is eating more food than ever before. Treatments for serious diseases like cancer or HIV are not readily available, which shortens the lifespans of the general population. Why are these things not available in Cuba? Because they were commercialized through the US patenting service.
The Cuban embargo may have served a purpose when Communism was spreading around the world, but that isn’t happening any more. The US shifted its foreign policies from the Cold War era except one: Cuba. By evaluating these pros and cons, maybe the time is finally right to end this embargo for good.