The U.S. embargo is a cease-trade between the U.S. and Cuba which the U.S. put in place after the new communist government came to power, and is the root of many of the problems in Cuba today, whether directly or indirectly. "The Cuban embargo represents America's last, futile hope of destroying the communist regime which has such a strangle hold over the country " ; though it has not had the desired effect of toppling the Castro government, it has hurt the Cubans in just about everyway imaginable in terms of economy.
Cuba is renown for its literacy rate, however, ironically the educational system is what hardest hit by the embargo. From pencils to computers, most school supplies are a rare commodity in Cuba. This combined with the limited access to the Internet leaves Cuba behind in terms of technology. The school supplies must be purchased from other countries such as Canada, which spike the price and cost more to ship. The teachers are underpaid as well, and with wages that are barely enough to live on. "Teachers receive a salary of some 300 Cuban Pesos [about $15US], teachers and professors have difficulty with personal expenses still less can they pay for some things out of pocket as is often the case in US school systems" . Part of the problem is Cuba's devalued currency, a problem that also comes, in part, from the U.S.'s embargo.
After the revolution, a Cuban Peso, Cuba's form of currency, was equal to one American dollar. However, the embargo hurt Cuban sugar trade, which was one of the main staples of the Cuban economy. The U.S. refused to buy Cuba's sugar crop. This made it difficult for Cuba to back currency with actual wealth such as dollars, but the government continued to print money, despite the lack of actual value. This, coupled with the fact that Cuba had little economy elsewhere, brought the country to its knees, money-wise. The Soviet Union stepped in and supported Cuba, selling it petroleum, buying its sugar crop, giving it funds that it needed to help sustain its government programs, and giving the Cuban peso more value. The Soviets, however, could only sponsor Cuba for so long, and after the fall of the Soviet Union in the 80's the Cuban peso's value fluctuated. Currently, the rate of exchange for Cuban to American currency is 24 pesos for one dollar. Because of this devalued currency, health care within Cuba suffers as well.
Although Cuba's health care is regarded as one of the best in the world: "the superb quality of [the health care] within the Cuban state is possibly the most important factor of the communist government's endurance" , it too suffers from the embargo in more ways than may seem apparent. The first, and most obvious problem it faces is lack of medicine and medical machines from the U.S. Cuba must import all of its medical, like its school supplies, from other, more distant countries, who will not only charge a higher price, but also cost more in terms of shipping the equipment to Cuba. This paired with Cuba's devalued currency makes the basics of health care, such as rubber gloves, syringes, and basic medications and anesthetics hard to come by. Most of the country's medical machines are extras, donated by the Soviets in the 60's, 70's and 80's when they were supporting Cuba. And just like the teachers, doctors and nurses face problems with their salary, as well as occasional black outs, and malfunctioning machines.
Apart from the health care directly, the embargo hurts the importation of food to Cuba, and with its devalued currency, food becomes even more expensive. Though there...