By: patty young
Cuba and the Affects of the Embargo The island nation of Cuba, located just ninety miles off the coast of Florida, is home to 11 million people and has one of the few remaining communist regimes in the world. Cuba's leader, Fidel Castro, came to power in 1959 and immediately instituted a communist program of sweeping economic and social changes. Castro allied his government with the Soviet Union and seized and nationalized billions of dollars of American property. U.S. relations with Cuba have been strained ever since. A trade embargo against Cuba that was imposed in 1960 is still in place today. Despite severe economic suffering and increasing isolation from the world community, Castro remains committed to communism. (Close Up Foundation) The United States and Cuba share a long history of mutual mistrust and suspicion. All aspects of U.S. policy with Cuba, such as the current trade embargo, immigration practices, and most recently the possibility of a free exchange by members of the media, provoke heated debates across the United States. While most Americans agree that the ultimate goals should be to encourage Castro's resignation and promote a smooth transition to democracy, experts disagree about how the U.S. government should accomplish these aims. Some believe that the country's current policy toward Cuba is outdated in its Cold War approach and needs to be reconstructed. However, many still consider Fidel Castro a threat in the hemisphere and a menace to his own people and favor tightening the screws on his regime even more. (Close Up Foundation) For almost forty years, the United States has not imported any Cuban products, nor allowed any American food, medical supplies, or capital to enter Cuba. President Clinton, like each of his predecessors, supports the trade embargo. Two recent pieces of legislation have tightened the economic restrictions on Cuba. (Close Up Foundation) The Cuban Democracy Act, passed by Congress in 1992, further isolates Cuba from the world economy by prohibiting any foreign-based subsidiaries of U.S. companies from trading with the country. The bill's goal was to cripple the Cuban economy in order to bring down Castro "within weeks," according to the bill's primary advocate Robert Torricelli (D-N.J.). The Helms-Burton Act states that American citizens can sue foreign investors who utilize American property seized by the Cuban government. In addition, those who "traffic" in this property or profit from it will be denied visas to the United States. Supporters of the legislation believe that prohibiting foreign investment will quicken Castro's downfall. (Close Up Foundation) Many debate on the issue of why the U.S. should or shouldn't keep the ebargo against Cuba. These debates deal with the effects of the Embargo on Cuba's economy, humanitarian rights and health of the people of Cuba. The embargo today places a ban on subsidiary trade, Licensing, shipping and humanitarian aid. (Close Up Foundation) In 1992, the Cuban Democracy act imposed a ban on subsidiary trade with Cuba. This ban restricted Cuba's ability to import medicines and medical supplies from third country sources. There have also been corporate buy-outs and mergers between U.S. and European pharmaceutical companies thus adding to the number of companies permitted to do business with Cuba. Under the Cuban Democracy Act, The U.S. Treasury and Commerce Departments are allowed to license individual sales of medicines and medical supplies, supposedly for humanitarian reasons to make up for the embargo's impact on health care delivery. According to the U.S. corporate executives, the licensing provisions are so tough as to have had the opposite effect. With this statement, it is assumed that there are fewer licenses given out for humanitarian reason therefore favoring the embargo and aiding in the downfall of health in Cuba. Since 1992, the embargo has prohibited ships from loading or...
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