Why Obama Should (and will) significantly reduce the embargo against Cuba
On February 7, 1962, John Fitzgerald Kennedy and the United States signed the Cuban Democracy Act into law, effectively isolating Cuba from any connection with the growing United States Economy. U.S. businesses were no longer allowed any association with the communist regime of Fidel Castro, eliminating trade and travel to the small Caribbean country 90 miles to the south.
Fifty-one years and nine presidents later, the embargo still exists, with relaxed travel revisions occurring in the past couple of years. It was originally put into place with the hopes of crippling Communist Cuba, and has continued to be in effect since Fidel Castro has been in power. The short response to a complicated idea: it hasn’t. At all.
There are two major reasons why the United States hasn’t lifted the embargo. The first one is social, and in my opinion the larger of the two, deals with our ideals as a country. The United States traditionally has had trouble admitting fault for their international and domestic mishaps. As a proud nation, entering an international conversation that our embargo on Cuba was a mistake would be incredibly embarrassing for our country. It would either require an apology or a picture of Fidel Castro sitting next to our president shaking hands, which would be one of the more powerful political images of that particular president’s tenure.
A president is typically remembered for one or two major events. Their legacy can be defined by a few minute moments that are inked into American history books forever. For Lincoln, it was the Emancipation Proclamation and his leadership during the Civil War. For Franklin Delano Roosevelt, it was seven small words; “a date which will live in infamy” and his unprecedented actions to move us away from the Great Depression.
For the president who lets Cuba out of the doghouse, their name will be remembered next to Castro’s. That being said, President Obama would be one of the best candidates in the past 20 years to lift the embargo. His entire presidency has been defined by his relatively untouched political policies. His stances on health care, gay rights and illegal immigration are some of the most controversial and talked about legislation in recent memory. His predecessor, George Bush, was a far too conservative president to pass a piece of legislation as monumental as freeing Cuba from the shackles of economic restraint. Barack Obama would be remembered forever as the president who righted a 51-year-old wrong and helped developed a growing relationship with a lucrative location in the Caribbean.
The fact of the matter is when talking about the embargo, is that it was relatively ineffective by nature. The Cuban economy actually showed steady growth across their GDP after the embargo was set into place. The only major exception was in the late 80s and early 90s, when the communist Soviet Union, and Cuba’s biggest ally, fell. The Cuban economy cut a major loss in that time period, but since then has showed a relatively sharp recovery.
Now, before everyone reading this goes Joseph McCarthy on me and accuses me of being a communist supporter, I’ll say this. In 1962, the United States was spot on in placing an embargo against a dictator who threatened to end the free world, but, that being said, there is absolutely no reason why the embargo should still be in place today.
About joemartin2014J-student at Arizona State University, and pursing a minor in business as well.
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