Top Pro & Con Arguments
Ending the embargo would only help the government, not regular Cuban citizens.
The 90% state-owned economy ensures that the Cuban government and military would reap the gains of open trade with the United States, not private citizens. Foreign companies operating in Cuba are required to hire workers through the state and wages are converted into local currency and devalued at a ratio of 24:1, so a $500 wage becomes a $21 paycheck. A Cuban worker stated, “In Cuba, it’s a great myth that we live off the state. In fact, it’s the state that lives off of us.”
The embargo enables the United States to apply pressure on the Cuban government to improve human rights. Several international organizations have written about the long history of human rights abuses and repression in Cuba. At least 4,123 people were detained for political reasons in 2011, and an estimated 6,602 political detentions occurred in 2012. Since the United States agreed to re-open the US embassy in Cuba, the Cuban government has continued to persecute and arrest its own citizens. Arbitrary short-term detentions increased between 2010 and 2016, from a monthly average of 172 detentions to a monthly average of 827 detentions. While the average had dropped by 2019, the Cuban government was still detaining over 227 people per month arbitrarily. Newer numbers haven’t been reported, however a reported 1,400 people were imprisoned for protesting the scarcity of medical supplies on July 11, 2021, illustrating the government’s intolerance for dissent and speed in imprisoning anyone who dares speak against the government.
The freedom of expression and right to assemble are severely restricted by the government. The 1996 Helms-Burton Act stated that the United States has a “moral obligation” to promote human rights in keeping with the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the embargo is a bargaining tool.
With the embargo in place, the United States is able to target the Cuban government while still providing assistance to Cuban citizens. American policy allows people to visit family members and send money to relatives in Cuba, and also permits travel for humanitarian and educational reasons. Over one billion dollars in remittances (money transferred from abroad) are sent to Cuban families each year, mostly from relatives in the United States.
And Congress gave USAID a total budget of $364 million between fiscal year 1996 and fiscal year 2019 to promote democracy and human rights in Cuba.
Further, the embargo should be maintained because open travel is insufficient to promote change in Cuba. Many democratic countries already allow travel to Cuba with no results.
More than 2.7 million people from around the world visited Cuba in 2011, including more tourists from Canada than any other country. Despite the steady flow of tourism from western countries, the Cuban government still maintains total control over its people because most Cuban nationals are banned from tourist areas such as resorts and beaches. There would be limited, if any, contact with U.S. citizens vacationing there.Read More