Last updated on: 10/16/2020 | Author: ProCon.org

Pro & Con Quotes: Should the United States Maintain Its Embargo against Cuba?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)

The Council on Foreign Relations, in a Mar. 27, 2020 article, “U.S.-Cuba Relations,” available at cfr.org, stated:

“The U.S.-Cuba relationship has been plagued by distrust and antagonism since 1959, the year Fidel Castro overthrew a U.S.-backed regime in Havana and established a socialist state allied with the Soviet Union. During the half century that followed, successive U.S. administrations pursued policies intended to isolate the island country economically and diplomatically. The United States has sanctioned Cuba longer than it has any other country.

President Barack Obama took some extraordinary steps to normalize U.S. relations with Cuba, meeting with leader Raul Castro and restoring full diplomatic ties. However, President Donald J. Trump’s administration has largely reversed course, imposing a raft of new sanctions and labeling Cuba, along with Venezuela and Nicaragua, part of the ‘Troika of Tyranny.'”

Mar. 27, 2020

The US Government Accountability Office stated the following in a Nov. 30, 2007 report titled “Agencies Face Competing Priorities in Enforcing the U.S. Embargo on Cuba,” available at gao.gov:

“For nearly five decades, the United States has maintained a comprehensive embargo on Cuba through various laws, regulations, and presidential proclamations regarding trade, travel, and financial transactions. The stated purpose of this embargo—the most comprehensive set of U.S. economic sanctions on any country—is to weaken the Castro regime by denying it hard currency. To achieve this goal, the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR)… generally prohibit all trade, travel, and financial transactions with Cuba or Cuban nationals by U.S. citizens, residents, foreign visitors, or foreign subsidiaries of U.S. firms. Trade with Cuba also is subject to U.S. export control laws and regulations.”

Nov. 30, 2007 - US Government Accountability Office (GAO)

PRO (yes)

Pro 1

Steven Mnuchin, US Secretary of the Treasury, in a June 4, 2019 press release, “Treasury and Commerce Implement Changes to Cuba Sanctions Rules,” available at home.treasury.gov, stated:

“Cuba continues to play a destabilizing role in the Western Hemisphere, providing a communist foothold in the region and propping up U.S. adversaries in places like Venezuela and Nicaragua by fomenting instability, undermining the rule of law, and suppressing democratic processes. This Administration has made a strategic decision to reverse the loosening of sanctions and other restrictions on the Cuban regime. These actions will help to keep U.S. dollars out of the hands of Cuban military, intelligence, and security services.”

June 4, 2019

Pro 2

Mike Pompeo, JD, US Secretary of State, in Apr. 17, 2019 remarks to the press, available at state.gov, stated:

“[J]ust as we did in regard to moving our embassy to Jerusalem, the true capital of Israel, or designating the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for what it is, a terrorist organization, the Trump administration recognizes reality. We see clearly that the [Cuban] regime’s repression of its own people and its unrepentant exportation of tyranny in the region has only gotten worse because dictators perceive appeasement as weakness, not strength.

President Obama’s administration’s game of footsy with the Castros’ junta did not deter the regime from continuing to harass and oppress the heroic Ladies in White, a group of women dedicated to peacefully protesting the regime’s human rights abuses.

More broadly, the regime continues to deprive its own people of the fundamental freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and association. Indeed, according to NGO reports, Cuban thugs made more than 2,800 arbitrary arrests in 2018 alone. In the run-up to the country’s recent sham constitutional referendum, one that enshrined the Communist Party as the only legal political party in Cuba, the regime harassed, beat, and detained leaders and – opposition leaders and activists. Three hundred and ten people were arbitrarily detained according to the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation.

Cuba’s behavior in the Western Hemisphere undermines the security and stability of countries throughout the region, which directly threatens United States national security interests. The Cuban regime has for years exported its tactics of intimidation, repression, and violence. They’ve exported this to Venezuela in direct support of the former Maduro regime. Cuban military intelligence and state security services today keep Maduro in power.

Sadly, Cuba’s most prominent export these days is not cigars or rum; it’s oppression.”

Apr. 17, 2019

Pro 3

John Bolton, JD, former Trump administration US National Security Advisor, in an Apr. 2019 speech to the Bay of Pigs Veterans Association Brigade 2506, the text of which is available at politico.com, stated:

“In June of 2017, President Trump announced the cancellation of the horrible, misguided deal the Obama administration struck with the dictatorship in Havana.

Under our new policy, National Security Presidential Memorandum-5, we are enforcing all sanctions transparently, aggressively, and effectively. We are supporting the Cuban people by promoting freedom of assembly and expression, and we are steering American dollars away from Cuba’s military, security, or intelligence services—the main instruments of the Cuban regime’s repression.

As you know, the President’s 2017 policy announcement was only the beginning. Since then, we have imposed even further sanctions, tightened restrictions, and scaled back U.S. personnel at Embassy Havana in response to the vicious attacks on American diplomats.

From now on, no regime will target American citizens with impunity.

Under this administration, we don’t throw dictators lifelines. We take them away. “

Apr. 2019

Pro 4

Michele J. Sison, US Ambassador to the United Nations, in a Nov. 1, 2017 statement, “Explanation of Vote at a UN General Assembly Meeting on the Cuba Embargo,” available at usun.usmission.gov, stated:

“The United States believes the people of Cuba deserve a stable, prosperous, and democratic country. We strongly support their right to freely determine their own future. It is the Cuban government – and not the United States – that continues to deprive the Cuban people of this aspiration. Our sanctions against Cuba are just one part of our overall effort to help all in Cuba freely exercise their human rights and fundamental freedoms and choose their own destiny. For that reason, we vote ‘No’ and strongly oppose this resolution [to end the US embargo on Cuba].

The Cuban government continues to isolate the Cuban people while disingenuously blaming the embargo. In fact, Cuba currently has one of the most restrictive economies in the world as a direct result of its government’s policies. Irrespective of U.S. policy, the Cuban economy will not thrive until the Cuban government allows a free labor market, fully empowers Cuban entrepreneurs, respects intellectual property rights, allows unfettered access to information via the Internet, opens its state monopolies to private competition, and adopts sound macro-economic policies.

The United States remains a deep and abiding friend of the Cuban people. Our policy emphasizes advancing human rights and democracy on the island, while ensuring that our engagement benefits the Cuban people – and not their dictatorial regime. Our policy focuses on engagement with the Cuban people to give them the support and tools they need to move forward, independent of the obstacles imposed by their own government.”

Nov. 1, 2017

Pro 5

Nikki Haley, former US Ambassador to the United Nations, in a Nov. 2, 2018 article, “Hayley: The UN General Assembly’s Shameful Support of Cuba,” available at miamiherald.com, stated:

“The Castro dictatorship denies the Cuban people the most basic human rights and freedoms. Uncooperative journalists and opponents of the regime are arrested and even killed. The Cuban economy is rigged in favor of the ruling elite. The Cuban government has the absolute authority to restrict travel inside Cuba and to determine who gets to leave…

The unfortunate thing is not that the United States was left, once again, standing virtually alone on behalf of human dignity at the United Nations [during the annual vote for the US to end the embargo]. To the contrary. We are proud to buck the mob when it comes to the principles we believe in.

The really unfortunate result of this UN charade is that the Cuban people were once again abandoned by an organization that is supposed to advocate for human rights.

Thankfully, the United Nations does not have the power to end the United States embargo. That power belongs exclusively to Congress and the American people…

In the absence of a world message of support, the United States reiterates its message to the people of Cuba: We will continue to stand with you until the day comes when we can stand together as free peoples in our shared neighborhood.”

Nov. 2, 2018

Pro 6

Donald Trump, 45th President of the United States, at a June 16, 2017 Miami rally, quotes from which are available at aljazeera.com, stated,

“Last year, I pledged to be a voice against oppression, and here I am like I promised. Now that I am your president … We will stand with the Cuban people in the struggle for freedom… Effective immediately, I am cancelling the last government’s one-sided deal with Cuba. We won’t lift sanctions on the Cuban regime until all political prisoners and freed … until free and internationally recognized elections are held.”

June 16, 2017

Pro 7

Mauricio Claver-Carone, LLM, Director of the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC, stated the following in his May 18, 2016 article titled “Stick to the Facts on the Cuba Travel Ban,” published at thehill.com:

“Just as the U.S. Congress focused sanctions on Iran’s petroleum-refining capability, which is that country’s foremost source of income, the United States has sanctions against tourism transactions in Cuba to prevent an exponential increase in funds directly to Castro regime’s repressive machinery…

Current U.S. policy toward Cuba has not failed. In order to label a policy as a failure, there needs to be evidence of the success, or likely success, of alternatives.

The fact is that decades of Canadian and European tourism to Cuba — with over three million visitors per year — has not eased the Castro regime’s repression, improved its respect for basic human rights or helped Cuba’s civil society gain any democratic space. To the contrary, it has increased repression and stabilized Castro’s regime…
For Cubans, the consequence of lifting restrictions on U.S. tourism is more repression; for the United States, it’s having financed that repression.”

May 18, 2016 - Mauricio Claver-Carone, LLM

Pro 8

Daisy B. Peñaloza, a preschool teacher who left Cuba on a U.S.-sponsored Freedom Flight in 1967, stated the following in her Jan. 29, 2016 article titled “My View: The U.S. Should Keep the Cuba Embargo in Place,” available at deseretnews.com:

“Clamors for the embargo’s lifting persist despite the fulfillment of dissident and exile warnings that diplomatic recognition of the Castro regime would strengthen the oppressors and crush popular dissent. The removal of what little trade sanctions remain is legally and morally unjustified…

The oft-repeated rhetoric that the embargo has ‘exacerbated the hardships’ of the Cuban people is untrue. The Castros’ totalitarian system of governance, which has created economic, sociopolitical and spiritual impoverishment, is the veritable culprit, not the embargo. Fifty-five years of global trade with Cuba refutes allegations of enforced isolation. Given Castro’s propensity to default on loans, the embargo has actually saved U.S. taxpayers millions of dollars by denying the corrupt regime easy credit.”

Jan. 29, 2016 - Daisy B. Peñaloza

Pro 9

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Ed.D, US Representative (R-FL), stated the following in a Feb. 7, 2012 statement titled “Fifty Years Later, Cuban Embargo Demonstrates U.S. Solidarity with Cuban People,” available on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs website:

“In addition to imposing economic pressure on the Castro regime and holding it accountable for actions against U.S. interests, the embargo is a moral stance against the brutal dictatorship. Over the last 50 years, the embargo has served as a constant form of solidarity with the Cuban people. I am ever hopeful that a Cuban Spring will arrive as long as we maintain and enforce policies which support the freedom-loving will of the Cuban people. The embargo will remain in place until free, fair and transparent elections are scheduled, political prisoners are released, and freedom of expression and the press are established.”

Feb. 7, 2012 - Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Ed.D

Pro 10

Barack Obama, JD, 44th President of the United States, stated the following in a Sep. 28, 2011 roundtable titled “Open for Questions with President Obama,” available at whitehouse.gov:

“[W]e’re prepared to show flexibility and not be stuck in a Cold War mentality dating back to when I was born. On the other hand, we have to see a signal back from the Cuban government that it is following through on releasing political prisoners, on providing people their basic human rights, in order for us to be fully engaged with them. And so far, at least, what we haven’t seen is the kind of genuine spirit of transformation inside of Cuba that would justify us eliminating the embargo…

And as long as I’m President I will always be prepared to change our Cuba policy if and when we start seeing a serious intention on the part of the Cuban government to provide liberty for its people. But that’s always my watchword, is are we seeing freedom for the Cuban people to live lives of opportunity and prosperity. If we are, then we’ll be supportive of them.”

[Editor’s Note: Prior to Mr. Obama’s Sep. 28, 2011 Pro position above, his position was Con as indicated by his Jan. 20, 2004 statement in the opposite column.]

Sep. 28, 2011 - Barack Obama, JD

Pro 11

Carlos Alberto Montaner, MA, author and journalist exiled from Cuba, stated the following in his Oct. 2, 2003 article titled “Keep U.S. Embargo on Cuba,” published in the Miami Herald:

“The arguments in favor of lifting the embargo are not as weighty as those that counsel retaining it.

Why alleviate the Cuban government’s economic situation when history has shown that every time Castro strengthens his power, he invests those resources to retract the few morsels of economic freedom granted to the people during the periods of deep crisis?…

Once Castro is dead, the Cuban ruling class is overwhelmed by the huge power vacuum and all economic activity suddenly stops as everyone waits to see what will happen, only then will the offer be made to lift the embargo and grant generous aid in exchange for democracy and freedoms for the Cuban people…

The key is to induce the establishment of democracy in Cuba. For that it is necessary to keep intact the capacity to negotiate.”

Oct. 2, 2003 - Carlos Alberto Montaner, MA

Pro 12

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, MA, US Representative (D-FL) and Chair of the Democratic National Committee, stated the following in a Nov. 26, 2010 opinion article titled “Opposing View on Cuba: Don’t Reward Atrocities,” published in USA Today:

“Declaring the embargo a failure and using it as justification to reopen trade and relations ignores the fact that the Cuban economy is on its knees. The paltry changes we’ve seen (allowing Cubans to buy and sell some goods) have been necessitated by their economic crisis. Ending the embargo now not only ignores the atrocities perpetrated by the Castro regime, it also hands the Cuban government a huge financial boost at the exact moment they need and want it most.

Friendship and an economic relationship with our nation must be earned, and Cubans deserve the freedom, democracy and human rights they lack. Until Cuba has demonstrated meaningful progress, unilateral changes in American policy would undeniably reward horrific behavior.”

Nov. 26, 2010 - Debbie Wasserman Schultz, MA

Pro 13

Alberto de la Cruz, Managing Editor of Babalú Blog, stated the following in a Feb. 29, 2012 interview with Janine Mendes-Franco titled “Cuba, USA: Blogger Perspectives on the Embargo’s 50th Anniversary (Part 1),” available at globalvoicesonline.org:

“[T]he US embargo is the only leverage the US has against the Castro dictatorship. As history indicates, the countries that have normalized relations and business dealings with the Castro government are severely limited in their ability to demand respect for human rights on the island. When these countries have attempted to pressure the Cuban dictatorship into stopping their repressive tactics, their economic interests on the island are immediately threatened. Therefore, their decision to promote respect for human rights in Cuba ceases to be a moral one and becomes an economic decision instead. Since, because of the embargo, the US has zero investments on the island that can be threatened, it can maintain its firm stance on human rights and democracy for the Cuban people.”

Feb. 29, 2012 - Alberto de la Cruz

Pro 14

Lincoln Diaz-Balart, former US Representative (R-FL), stated the following in a Sep. 29, 2008 editorial titled “Keep the Pressure on,” published in USA Today:

“[Historical precedent] is precisely is why we maintain a trade and tourism embargo on the Cuban dictatorship. Because, first, it is in the national interest of the United States for there to be a democratic transition in Cuba, as it obviously is in the interest of the long-suffering people of Cuba.

Second… it is critical that external pressure be kept for a democratic transition to take place in Cuba once the dictator is no longer on the scene.

The gravely ill Fidel Castro might have given up some titles, but he remains the tyrant. At the time of his death, it will be critical for the U.S. embargo to be in place as it is today, with its lifting being conditioned on three fundamental developments: the liberation of all political prisoners; the legalization of all political parties, labor unions and the press; and the scheduling of free elections.”

Sep. 29, 2008 - Lincoln Díaz-Balart, JD

Pro 15

David Rivera, MPA, US Representative (R-FL), stated the following in a Feb. 7, 2012 statement titled “Fifty Years Later, Cuban Embargo Demonstrates U.S. Solidarity with Cuban People,” available on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs website:

“In 1962, the United States enacted a trade embargo on Cuba due to the Castro regime’s anti-American and anti-democratic actions. The Cuban dictatorship demonstrated overt hostile actions toward democracy and human rights. Fifty years later, while the world around them has changed, and their allies are now Chavista and Mullah instead of Soviet, we see a continuing need for full enforcement of the embargo and other sanctions until free elections, civil liberties and democracy are returned to the Cuban people.”

Feb. 7, 2012 - David Rivera, MPA

Pro 16

Jeff Jacoby, JD, Op-Ed columnist for the Boston Globe, stated the following in his Aug. 25, 2010 column titled “Lift Embargo on Cuba? Not So Fast,” available at boston.com:

“Some 2.4 million tourists visited Cuba last year, more than 800,000 of them Canadians. For that matter, tens of thousands of Americans make it to Cuba each year, despite the restrictions. Yet for all that exposure to foreign citizens, money, and ideas, the power of the Castro brothers is undiminished.

By the same token, if international commerce had the power to undo the regime, wouldn’t it have been undone by now? The US embargo, after all, doesn’t stop Cuba from trading with any other country in the world. Indeed, even with the ’embargo,’ the United States is one of Cuba’s top five trading partners…

As long as the Castros maintain their stranglehold on the Cuban economy, enriching that economy enriches — and entrenches — them.

The travel ban and embargo have not ended Cuba’s misery, but lifting them unilaterally will only make that misery worse. Rewarding the dictators who keep Cuba in chains is not the way to set Cubans free.”

Aug. 25, 2010 - Jeff Jacoby, JD

Pro 17

Marco Rubio, JD, US Senator (R-FL), stated the following in a May 7, 2010 interview with Human Events, in answer to the question “When would you approve of lifting the economic embargo against Cuba?,” available at humanevents.com:

“When Cuba joins the rest of the civilized world in how it treats its people… That’s the kind of country that I’m interested in us having a relationship with. And the embargo serves as leverage for us to be able to accomplish that…

Cuba trades with every other country in the world. The fact of the matter is that the U.S. embargo is not the reason their economy is failing. Their economy is failing because they’ve embraced a combination of socialism and incompetence, which may be an oxymoron because they’re both the same thing…

What’s happening now is that the Castro government is using travel and exile travel as a way to fund its repressive regime… And it also provides a source of hard currency for the Castro regime. They use the dollars from remittances and from travel to fund their repressive operation. I think it was wrong to lift those travel restrictions.”

May 7, 2010 - Marco Rubio, JD

Pro 18

Gordon G. Chang, JD, columnist for Forbes.com, stated the following in his Feb. 20, 2008 article titled “In Defense of the Cuban Embargo,” published in Commentary Magazine:

“The [New York] Times cites our trade with China as a reason for ending the Cuban embargo, but this example merely illustrates that American policy has been inconsistent. Trade with China, if it shows anything, demonstrates that there is little correlation between commerce and political liberalization, at least over the short term…

Even if we lift the embargo, Castro’s successors will not allow their economy to be overrun by American tourists, investors, and corporate executives…

An embargo helped kill communism in Europe, and it can also end it in the Caribbean. One day we will establish normal trading relations with Cuba, but that should not be before the people there govern themselves…

The embargo has been working all along, and it is up to the Cuban dictators to relax their grip, not us.”

Feb. 20, 2008 - Gordon G. Chang, JD

Pro 19

Peter Brookes, MA, Senior Fellow in National Security Affairs at the Heritage Foundation, stated the following in an Apr. 16, 2009 article titled “Keep the Embargo, O,” available at www.heritage.org:

“Lifting the embargo won’t normalize relations, but instead legitimize — and wave the white flag to — Fidel’s 50-year fight against the Yanquis, further lionizing the dictator and encouraging the Latin American Left.

The last thing we should do is to fill the pockets of a regime that’ll use those profits to keep a jackboot on the neck of the Cuban people. The political and human-rights situation in Cuba is grim enough already…

The embargo has stifled Havana’s ambitions ever since the Castros lost their Soviet sponsorship in the early 1990s. Anyone noticed the lack of trouble Cuba has caused internationally since then? Contrast that with the 1980s some time…

The US embargo remains a matter of principle — and an appropriate response to Cuba’s brutal repression of its people. Giving in to evil only begets more of it. Haven’t we learned that yet?

Until we see progress in loosing the Cuban people from the yoke of the communist regime, we should hold firm onto the leverage the embargo provides.”

Apr. 16, 2009 - Peter Brookes, MA

CON (no)

Con 1

Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, JD, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba, in a Nov. 7, 2019 statement, “Statement by H.E. Mr. Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba, on Agenda Item 39, “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba”. New York, November 7, 2019,” availabel at cubadiplomatica.ca, stated:

“The blockade causes incalculable humanitarian damages. It is a flagrant, massive and systematic violation of human rights and qualifies as an act of genocide under Articles 2 (b) and (c) of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948. There is not a single Cuban family that has not endured its consequences…

The US government does not have the least moral authority to criticize Cuba or any other country when it comes to human rights. We reject the reiterated manipulation of human rights with political purposes as well as the double standards that characterize it.

The United States is a country where human rights are violated in a systematic –and many a time flagrant- way… The US is a party to only 30 per cent of the human rights instruments and does not recognize the right to life, peace, development, security, food or the rights of boys and girls.

The blockade also violates the human rights and civil liberties of American citizens, whose freedom to travel to Cuba, the only destination in the world that is forbidden to them, is unjustly and arbitrarily restricted…

The accumulated damages as a result of the blockade after almost six decades of implementation amount to 922 billion 630 million dollars, taking into account the devaluation of the US dollar against the price of gold. At current prices, this policy has caused quantifiable damages amounting to more than 138 billion 843 million 400 thousand dollars.

All along these years, the blockade has been the essential impediment to the aspirations of wellbeing and prosperity of several generations of Cubans and continues to be the fundamental obstacle to the economic development of the country.”

Nov. 7, 2019 - Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, JD

Con 2

Kevin J Fandl, PhD, Assistant Professor of Legal Studies and Strategic Global Management at Temple University, in a 2018 Georgetown Journal of International Law article, “Trading with the Enemy: Opening the Door to U.S. Investment in Cuba,” available at law.georgetown.edu, stated:

“U.S. economic sanctions on Cuba have been in place for nearly seven decades. The stated intent of those sanctions—to restore democracy and freedom to Cuba—is still used as a justification for maintaining harsh restrictions, despite the fact that the Castro regime remains in power with widespread Cuban public support. Starving the Cuban people of economic opportunities under the shadow of sanctions has significantly limited entrepreneurship and economic development on the island, despite a highly educated and motivated population. The would-be political reformers and leaders on the island emigrate, thanks to generous U.S. immigration policies toward Cubans, leaving behind the Castro regime and its ardent supporters. Real change on the island will come only if the United States allows Cuba to restart its economic engine and reengage with global markets. Though not a guarantee of political reform, economic development is correlated with demand for political change, giving the economic development approach more potential than failed economic sanctions… I argue that Cuba has survived in spite of the U.S. economic embargo and that dismantling the embargo in favor of open trade policies would improve the likelihood of Cuba becoming a market-friendly communist country like China. I present the avenues available today for trade with Cuba under the shadow of the economic embargo, and I argue that real political change will require a leap of faith by the United States through removal of the embargo and support for Cuba’s economic development.”

2018

Con 3

Nicholas Kristof, a New York Times Op-Ed columnist, in a Jan. 23, 2019 article, “The Embargo on Cuba Failed. Let’s Move On.,” available at nytimes.com, stated:

“It has been 60 years since Fidel Castro marched into Havana, so it’s time for both Cuba and the United States to grow up. Let’s let Cuba be a normal country again.

Cuba is neither the demonic tyranny conjured by some conservatives nor the heroic worker paradise romanticized by some on the left. It’s simply a tired little country, no threat to anyone, with impressive health care and education but a repressive police state and a dysfunctional economy.

Driving in from the airport, I saw billboards denouncing the American economic embargo as the “longest genocide in history.” That’s ridiculous. But the embargo itself is also absurd and counterproductive, accomplishing nothing but hurting the Cuban people — whom we supposedly aim to help.

After six decades, can’t we move on? Let’s drop the embargo but continue to push Havana on improving human rights, and on dropping support for other oppressive regimes, like those in Venezuela and Nicaragua.”

Jan. 23, 2019

Con 4

Patrick Leahy, JD, US Senator (D-VT), in a Feb. 8, 2019 press release, “Klobuchar, Enzi, Leahy Introduce Major Legislation to Lift Cuba Trade Embargo,” available at leahy.senate.gov, stated:

“Decades after the end of the Cold War we continue to impose punitive sanctions against Cuba, a tiny island neighbor that poses no threat to us. After more than half a century, the embargo has achieved none of its objectives. President Obama took a courageous and pragmatic step in opening diplomatic relations with Cuba, but President Trump has reinstated the failed isolationist policy of the past. It is up to Congress to end the embargo, which is used by the Cuban government to justify its repressive policies, and by foreign companies to avoid competing with U.S. businesses that are shut out of the Cuban market. Lifting the embargo will put more food on the plates of the Cuban people, allow them to access quality U.S. products, and encourage reforms in Cuba’s economy, all while benefiting American companies.”

Feb. 8, 2019

Con 5

Amy Klobuchar, JD, US Senator (D-MI), in a Feb. 8, 2019 press release, “Klobuchar, Enzi, Leahy Introduce Major Legislation to Lift Cuba Trade Embargo,” available at leahy.senate.gov, stated:

“Instead of looking to the future, U.S.-Cuba policy has been defined for far too long by conflicts of the past. Cuba is an island of 11 million people, just 90 miles from our border—lifting the trade embargo will open the door to a huge export market, create jobs here at home, and support both the American and Cuban economies. Our bipartisan legislation will finally turn the page on the failed policy of isolation and build on the progress we have made to open up engagement with Cuba by ending the embargo once and for all.”

Feb. 8, 2019

Con 6

Vicki Huddleston, retired Ambassador to Mali and Madagascar, in an Apr. 19, 2018 article, “Op-Ed: As Castro Era Ends in Cuba, so Should the U.S. Embargo,” available at latimes.com, stated:

“President Trump has reversed many of President Obama’s efforts to normalize relations with Cuba, citing the country’s poor human rights record and lack of democracy. A number of the business and travel restrictions that were loosened in 2014 and 2015 have been reinstated, the consular section has closed, and the new American Embassy in Havana has been reduced to 10 diplomats. Conservatives in the U.S. now seem intent on continuing, even strengthening, the trade embargo on Cuba and tightening American travel to the island even further.

This is wrongheaded. The 50-year trade embargo against Cuba has failed. It has not influenced the country’s leadership to change its communist government or to improve human rights on the island.

Quite the opposite is true: When the U.S. tightens its stranglehold on Cuba, the Cuban government slows reforms and restricts dissent. Ever since Trump announced his decision to reverse Obama’s U.S.-Cuba thaw, Castro has halted necessary economic changes…

The U.S. should also remove all sanctions that harm the Cuban people and opt instead for targeted sanctions, which can be levied against individuals for specific abuses, or particular policies. Under the embargo, all Cubans are punished. It’s a blunt weapon, not a precision instrument.

Nowhere else in the world does the U.S. maintain a unilateral embargo; not even against rogue nations like Syria, which has used chemical weapons against its own people, or North Korea, which threatens to make use of its nuclear program.”

Apr. 19, 2018

Con 7

Hanan Saab, Assistant Vice President for Federal Relations of the Association of American Universities, in a Jan. 25, 2017 article, “Why Ending the U.S. Embargo and Travel Ban on Cuba Matters,” available at nafsa.org, stated:

“While President Obama’s administrative measures and bold leadership have heralded a new era of U.S.-Cuba relations, long-term, meaningful ties will only be sustained by changing existing laws, which requires action from the U.S. Congress. Despite the progress of the past two years, the 50-year-old U.S. embargo on Cuba remains law and makes facilitating meaningful educational exchanges unnecessarily difficult. Though the president has relaxed restrictions, he can only do so within the bounds of current law. Should the next president have differing views on U.S.-Cuba engagement, he or she can still undo all of the progress that’s been made to date.

If we are to fully and effectively engage with our neighbor a mere 90 miles from our shore, Congress must pass bills codifying the president’s efforts to permanently lift the remaining travel and trade restrictions with Cuba.”

Jan. 25, 2017

Con 8

An Oct. 9, 2015 letter to the majority and minority leaders of the US Senate and the speaker and minority leader of the US House of Representatives at the time, signed by the governors of Alabama, California, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington, stated the following:

“As governors of states across the United States, we write to share our support for an end to current trade sanctions levied against Cuba…

Ending the embargo will create jobs here at home, especially in rural America, and will create new opportunities for U.S. agriculture…

The benefits of fully opening Cuba to free market trading with the U.S. go beyond dollars and cents. This positive change in relations between our nations will usher in a new era of cooperation that transcends business. Expanded diplomatic relations, corporate partnerships, trade and dialogue will put us in a better position to boost democratic ideals in Cuba…

We now ask that you and your colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate take decisive steps to support U.S. commerce and trade relations and fully end the embargo on Cuba.”

Oct. 9, 2015

Con 9

Joy Gordon, PhD, JD, professor of Social Ethics in the philosophy department at Loyola University Chicago, stated the following in her July 2016 article titled “El Bloqueo,” published in The Atlantic:

“In the American imagination, the embargo serves mostly to deny us access to Cohibas and Havana Club rum, but its damage to the Cuban people has been, and continues to be, pervasive and profound. It affects their access to everything from electricity to video games to shoes. It has prevented Cubans from buying medical supplies from American companies, from buying pesticides and fertilizer, from purchasing Microsoft Word or downloading Adobe Acrobat. It has restricted how much money Cuban Americans can send to their families on the island…

‘This is a new day — es un nuevo día — between our two countries,’ President Obama announced in March to journalists assembled at the Plaza de la Revolución. But for all the improvements in U.S.–Cuban relations over the past two years, that new day will not really come until the embargo is lifted in its entirety.

Certainly the embargo has left deep scars. It has continued for more than half a century, doing its worst damage at times when Cubans were at their most vulnerable, with aggressive enforcement that in critical ways continues to this day.”

July 2016 - Joy Gordon, PhD, JD

Con 10

Juan Carlos Hidalgo, MA, a Policy Analyst on Latin America at the Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity at the Cato Institute, stated the following in a Jan. 15, 2013 article titled “Hagel’s Common Sense on Cuba,” published on the Cato Institute website:

“You don’t need to think hard to understand why the embargo and travel ban on Cuba have failed: the Castro brothers are still in power in Havana. Five decades of economic sanctions—the most stringent Washington has imposed on any country—have failed to bring about a democratic transformation of Cuba. Moreover, the embargo has served as a scapegoat to the regime.

Ironically, those who argue that national security concerns are reasons to oppose changing U.S. policy towards Cuba ignore that the embargo has also become somewhat of a U.S. security liability itself. A 2007 report by the Government Accountability Office points out that enforcing the embargo and travel ban diverts limited resources from homeland security that could be used to keep terrorists and criminals out of the United States.”

Jan. 15, 2013 - Juan Carlos Hidalgo, MA

Con 11

Barack Obama, JD, then-state senator (D-IL), stated the following in a Jan. 20, 2004 speech at Southern Illinois University, posted on YouTube.com:

“I think it’s time for us to end the embargo on Cuba… Our planet is shrinking. And our biggest foreign policy challenge… is how do we make sure that other countries, in developing nations, are providing sustenance for their people, human rights for their people, a basic structure of government for their people, that is stable and secure so they can be partners in a brighter future for the entire planet. And the Cuban embargo has failed to provide the sorts of rising standards of living, and has squeezed the innocents in Cuba and utterly failed to overthrow Castro, who has now been there since I was born. It is now time to acknowledge that that particular policy has failed.”

[Editor’s Note: Following Mr. Obama’s Jan. 20, 2004 Con position above, his position changed to Pro as indicated by his Sep. 28, 2011 statement in the opposite column.]

Jan. 20, 2004 - Barack Obama, JD

Con 12

Richard Lugar, MA, former US Senator (R-IN), and Howard Berman, LLB, former US Representative (D-CA), stated the following in a Nov. 17, 2009 editorial published in the Miami Herald, available at the US Cuba Normalization blog:

“U.S. law lets American citizens travel to any country on earth, friend or foe — with one exception: Cuba. It’s time for us to scrap this anachronistic ban…

This ban has prevented contact between Cubans and ordinary Americans, who serve as ambassadors for the democratic values we hold dear. Such contact would help break Havana’s chokehold on information about the outside world. And it would contribute to improving the image of the United States, particularly in Latin America, where the U.S. embargo on Cuba remains a centerpiece of anti-Washington grievances…

Finally, while travel restrictions are contrary to our foreign policy interests, they also impede the right of Americans to freedom of speech, association and to travel. Sometimes a travel ban may be necessary, but nothing about the Cuba situation today justifies such an infringement on our basic liberties.”

[Editor’s Note: The statement above refers only to the travel ban aspect of the Cuba embargo.]

Nov. 19, 2009 - Richard Lugar, MA
Howard Berman, LLB

Con 13

Howard Berman, LLB, former US Representative (D-CA), stated the following in an Apr. 26, 2013 email to ProCon.org:

“I am passionately opposed to the travel restrictions because I feel they infringe on Americans’ right to travel, and are foolish. I am mildly opposed to the embargo because I think it is foolish. We have utilized it for decades, and it hasn’t achieve its goal of bringing down a despotic regime.”

Apr. 26, 2013 - Howard Berman, LLB

Con 14

Fidel Castro, JD, former President and Prime Minister of Cuba, stated the following at a May 25, 2002 rally in Cuba, as reported in a CNN article titled “Castro Calls U.S. Terror Claim a ‘Slanderous Lie,'” available at CNN.com:

“We are men of ideas, not fanatics. We have never sowed hatred against the people of the United States despite the aggressions of her government against us. Apart from the moral and political damage that this does, what hurts us the most is the idea that one single American citizen could think that from Cuban territory any harm would be waged against them. Not a single drop of blood has ever fallen anywhere in the world because of any terrorist act introduced from our country. If it weren’t for that absurd and ridiculous embargo, the United States could receive vaccinations and other medical procedures from Cuba that could help save American lives.”

May 25, 2002 - Fidel Castro, JD

Con 15

Chuck Hagel, US Secretary of Defense and former US Senator (R-NE), stated the following on Late Edition on CNN in Feb. 2008, transcript available at the Daily Kos website:

“On Cuba, I’ve said that we have an outdated, unrealistic, irrelevant policy… It’s always been nonsensical to me about this argument, ‘Well, it’s a communist country, it’s a communist regime.’ What do people think Vietnam is? Or the People’s Republic of China? Both those countries are WTO members. We trade with them. We have relations. Great powers engage… Great powers are not afraid. Great powers trade.'”

Feb. 2008 - Chuck Hagel

Con 16

Yoani Sanchez, a Cuban blogger, stated the following in an Oct. 23, 2011 article titled “End the Embargo, End Castro Regime’s Excuse for All Its Failures,” published on the Huffington Post website:

“The five decade prolongation of the ‘blockade’ has allowed every setback we’ve suffered to be explained as stemming from it, justified by its effects. But its existence has not prevented the luxurious mansions of the nomenklatura from swimming in whiskey, their freezers packed with food while modern cars sit in the garages. To make matters worse, the economic fence has helped to fuel the idea of a place besieged, where dissent comes to be equated with an act of treason. The exterior blockade has strengthened the interior blockade…

[W]e… consider the end of the embargo as a definitive blow to the authoritarianism under which we live.”

Oct. 23, 2011 - Yoani Sánchez

Con 17

Jeff Bingaman, JD, former US Senator (D-NM), stated the following on the floor of the US Senate on Dec. 6, 2012, as reported in an article by Ramsey Cox titled “Bingaman Calls for End to ‘Out-of-Date’ Trade Embargo on Cuba,” published on thehill.com:

“Another out-of-date policy from the Cold War is the trade embargo on Cuba. The world has changed, and it is long past time that we change our policies with Cuba… It does not make our country safer and it does no good to the people of Cuba…

That regime has survived 50 years of sanctions. Old age and ill health will end their rule rather than the embargo.

A better approach is building relationships between the people and businesses here and the people and businesses in Cuba.

This doesn’t mean we stop advocating for human rights. We should be able to balance these goals as we did in our approach with China and based on vote today on Russia.”

Dec. 6, 2012 - Jeff Bingaman, JD

Con 18

Irene Khan, LLM, former Secretary General of Amnesty International, stated the following in a Sep. 2, 2009 press release titled “USA: President Obama Should Take the Lead on Lifting Embargo Against Cuba,” published on www.amnesty.org:

“This [annual deadline for the US to renew the embargo against Cuba under the Trading with the Enemy Act] is the perfect opportunity for President Obama to distance himself from the failed policies of the past and to send a strong message to the US Congress on the need to end the embargo. The US embargo against Cuba is immoral and should be lifted. It’s preventing millions of Cubans from benefiting from vital medicines and medical equipment essential for their health.”

Sep. 2, 2009 - Irene Khan, LLM

Con 19

Doug Bandow, JD, Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and former special assistant to Ronald Reagan, stated the following in his Dec. 11, 2012 article titled “Time to End the Cuba Embargo,” published in The National Interest:

“The U.S. government has waged economic war against the Castro regime for half a century. The policy may have been worth a try during the Cold War, but the embargo has failed to liberate the Cuban people. It is time to end sanctions against Havana…

The policy in Cuba obviously has failed. The regime remains in power. Indeed, it has consistently used the embargo to justify its own mismanagement, blaming poverty on America…

Ending the embargo would have obvious economic benefits for both Cubans and Americans. The U.S. International Trade Commission estimates American losses alone from the embargo as much as $1.2 billion annually.”

Dec. 11, 2012 - Doug Bandow, JD