Cuba and the United States
Due to its highly strategic position in the Caribbean, Cuba has inevitably produced an unusually intimate connection with the United States. It is the nature of this connection, subsequently confirmed by formal arrangements and strengthened by economic penetration from the north, which the Cubans now find irksome and which they would alter so as to obtain greater freedom of movement. This paper will highlight the relationship between Cuba, the Cuban President, Fidel Castro, and the United States. Furthermore it will discuss the unsuccessful invasion of Cuba by the United States government which led to an embargo being placed on Cuba. It will then try to answer the following questions: 1. What are the causes of the embargo?
2. What are the social, economical and political effects of the embargo? 3. Would improving the relationship between Cuba and the Unites States benefit the Cuban-Americans? Although there were merely ninety miles separating Cuba and the United States, there were three outstanding factors which affected their relationship. These are the Platt Amendment, the Reciprocity Treaty of 1903 and the large American investment in the island. In spite of opposition from most of Cuba higher political class the Amendment was passed in the American Congress and was later incorporated in to the Cuban Constitution. The Cubans, however, felt that four provision of such Amendment limited their national sovereignty to their nascent republic. These included “the forbidding of making treaties with third power which might compromise the independence of the nation, the cession of the United States of sites for naval station, the investment of the United States to maintained orderly government and all its accessories and the limitation of debt contracting powers of government to obligations within the scope of ordinary revenues”(Kirkpatrick, 1996). The Reciprocity treaty was signed as to govern the trade relations between both countries. This allowed Cubans goods to be imported in to the United States at a reduction of 20 percent from the regular tariff rates. On the other hand with the exception of tobacco “American goods were permitted into Cuba and were granted a reduction of 20 to 40 percent from the Cuban schedules”(Bosnia 1967). With large investments of American capital investors were able to have major stakeholders in companies operating on Cuba. One such major investment was the American owned sugar mill which produced approximately two third of all sugar out put in Cuba. There were many other companies operating in Cuba and most of these large American companies were control or owned by long-term leases.
Fidel Castro and the United States:
For the past four decades Fidel Castro and his regime have been the most vocal and active proponents of anti-Americanism throughout the developing world. They often-repeated views in many countries that the U.S. is an evil power, guilty for much of the problems and suffering of the poor nations, is owed in great part of the propaganda effects of Castro and his officials. “The roots of Castro’s anti-Americanism go back long before he rose to power”(Vanderbroucke,1984). The son of Spanish immigrants, Castro was raised in a household where his father supported Spain against the U.S during the Spanish-American War. Castro grew up believing that the U.S. took advantage of a weak Spain and frustrated the Cuban’s aspirations of real independence. Castro’s actions and repeated statements left no doubt that the U.S. faced an enemy bent on totally transforming Cuban society, remaining in power indefinitely and defying the U.S. “Castro saw himself not only as a leader of the Cuban revolution, but of a continental movement against the “Yankees”. The Soviets provided the protective umbrella for Castro’s ambitions. Since becoming the leader of Cuba, one of Castro’s main objectives has been to undermined U.S. power and prestige in the world. “Castor sees anti-Americanism, as well as his commitment to violence, as the main contributions of his revolution and leadership. Little does he care that his belief and action remain a Communist project undertaken in stark isolation from and opposition to the course of history in the Americas – and for that matter, the rest of the contemporary world”(Vanderbroucke, 1984). After returning to Cuba from exile in Mexico, Castro took over power of Cuba after he led a revolution with support among the peasants that led to the ousting of the then government, Batista, in 1959. Many Cubans left after the revolution as it became clear that the economic antagonism from the United States would caused Castro to nationalize all American property which might result in hardship. “There were several attempts by the United States government to assassinate Fidel Castro as they continued to economically isolate Cuba(Gleijesse 1995). This led to the Bay of Pigs invasion by the CIA. Castro, over the last period of time, had clearly shown his consistent anti-Americanism and his belief in the eventual success of Communism over capitalism even after the collapse of the Soviet Unions and the Communist camp. The Bay of Pigs Invasion:
Before diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States broke off, the Central Intelligence Agency had been training anti-revolutionary Cubans exiles for a possible invasion. The Bay of Pigs Invasion was an unsuccessful attempt by the United States backed by Cuban exiles to overthrow the government of Cuba’s dictator, Fidel Castro. Though the aid and training given to the attacking exiles was substantial, they suffered total defeat and created a humiliating episode for the United States. “Not only the attacked was a military disaster, but it failed its initial objective: in the end, the attack only increased Cubans’ support for their leader”(Vanderbroucke;1984). The intent of the attack was to take a beachhead, established a government, and gain U.S. recognition. It was believed that the Cubans would rise up and fight with them helping to overthrow Fidel Castro.
What are the causes of the Embargo?
The US embargo against Cuba first came about as a result of the conflict between the Cuban rebels and the Cuban government. As a result the US reduced the Cuban import quota of brown sugar. Having had their quota reduced the Soviet Union agreed to purchase the sugar instead. Due in part of the ill failed invasion of Cuba by the American government and the reduced quota in their sugar, the fiasco that was created allowed Castro to consolidate his power and pushed him further in the arms of the Soviet. Castor then boldly declared an outright alliance with the Soviet Unions, at which time the Premier of the Soviet Union warned that he would defend Cuba against American aggression, even to the point of thermonuclear war. In respond to the alliance with the Soviet Union extended measures were taken and the scope of trade restriction was widening.
What are the Social, Economical and Political effects of the embargo? Following the crisis in Cuba the American government imposed a travel restriction and the Cuban Assets Control Regulation was issued in respond to Cuban hosting the Soviet nuclear weapon. Under such restrictions, Cubans’ assets in the United States were frozen. This embargo was aimed at restricting the development of the Cuban economy’s new driving force by hitting the inflow of funds and goods by: i) a strict limitation on the transfer of foreign currencies by families in exile, ii) the six months ban to enter U.S. harbor of all ships that had anchored in a Cuban port, iii) sanctions against firms doing commerce with the island even though under the jurisdiction of a third state. The Helen-Burton law of 1966 aimed to harden the international sanction against Cuba. “The direct economic damages caused to Cuba by the US embargo since its institution would exceed $70 billions” (Herrera, 2003). These damages include: i) the lost of earnings due to the obstacles of the development of services and exportation which include tourism, air transport, sugar and nickels. ii) the impact of the limitation imposed on the growth on the national production of goods and services; the limited access to technologies, lack of access top spare parts and hence early retirement of equipments, force restructuring of firms, serious difficulties sustained by the sector of sugar, electricity, transportation and agriculture. iii) the monetary and financial restrictions makes it impossible for Cuba to negotiate its external debt, interdiction of access to dollars, unfavorable impact to the variation of the exchange rates on trade, risk country , additional coat of financing due to U.S. opposition to the integration of Cuba into the international financial institutions, iv) the pernicious effects of the incentive to emigration, including illegal emigration; the loss of human resources and talents generated by the Cuban educational system. v) the social damages effecting the population with major concerned been food, health, education, culture and sports. “Health care in Cuba has been ever more significantly impacted by the effect of the complex political changes and adverse economic condition in Cuba, especially in the past decade”(Dickey 2003). The embargo had a negative effect of all sector of the Cuban economy. Beside exportation which was the driving force of the Cuban economy recovery, the tourism sector and the foreign direct investment along with the currency transfer were heavily affected. Due to the embargo many, “European subsidiaries of U.S. firms began to break ties with the negotiation for the management of hotels, because their lawyers anticipate that the contract would be sanction under the provision of the “Helm-Burton Law”(Herrera,2003). The transfer of currency from the United States was restricted to less than a hundred dollar per family. In Cuba the embargo penalizes the activities of the banks and the finance, insurance, petrol, chemical products, construction, infrastructure and transport, shipyard, agriculture, fishing, electronics, computing but also the export sector, where the U.S property prevailed.
Would improving relationship with Cuba benefit the Cuban-American?
Is Cuba today still a threat to the U.S. society? Is U.S pride still hurt from the Bay of Pigs invasion? With these questions, sanction still remains against Cuba. Americans are not free to travel to Cuba and American goods cannot be traded there, nor can Cuban goods and people find there way to America. “The U.S embargo against Cuba is condemned by an even larger and now overwhelming majority of members of the U.N. General Assembly” (Herrera, 2003). |16 year United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)|
|voting record to end the U.S. blockade of Cuba|
| Year |For |Against |Abstain |
| 1992 |59 |3 |71 |
| 1993 |88 |4 |57 |
| 1994 |101 |2 |48 |
| 1995 |117 |3 |38 |
| 1996 |137 |3 |25 |
| 1997 |143 |3 |17 |
| 1998 |157 |2 |12 |
| 1999 |155 |2 |8 |
| 2000 |167 |3 |4 |
| 2001 |167 |3 |3 |
| 2002 |173 |3 |4 |
| 2003 A |179 |3 |2 |
| 2004 B |179 |4 |1 |
| 2005 C |182 |4 |2 |
| 2006 D |183 |4 |1 |
| 2007 E |184 |4 |1 |
| 2008 F |185 |3 |2 |
From the table we can conclude that it has always been a desire to end the embargo with Cuba. However this was not done. The table clearly indicates that each time the desire to end this goes to a majority vote. Each year the number of votes for ending the embargo increased. The question is why after all the years of voting in favor of ending the embargo this was not done. It is because of the fear of the close ties with Cuba and Russia which could have leads to dispute. Cuba has already developed a friendship with this super power. As the year progresses we see that members of the U.N General Assembly had change their mind and are in full support for the end of the embargo. From 71 members of the U.N General Assemble abstaining for voting to end the sanction in 1992, we clearly see that by 2008 only two members decided to abstain from voting. This shows that many countries now believe that the sanction should be lifted. Many Cuban-American recommended that the more drastic changes should “such as unilaterally lifting the embargo and all travel restriction” (Gelb, 01/1999). There are still many others who still support the sanction. “Mauricio Claver-Carone, Executive Director of Cuba Democracy Public Advocacy, Corp, said, “Cuban American voters from both political parties strongly support U.S trade and travel sanctions against the Cuban regime” (Gelb, 01/1999). This action is widely supported until the process of democratic reform begins. “Remittances from Cuban Americans help create small businesses in Cuba and allow hundred of thousand of Cubans to improve their lives independent of government control. Furthermore Cuban-American will play an important role in the construction of a post communist Cuba. Their national and global contact, understanding of market economies and professional skills will give them a vital role as a bridge between the United States and Cuba, when Cuba rejoins the democratic community” (Gelb, 01/1999). There are still many individual in the United States who argues that by enhancing hard currency holding in Cuba, remittances prop up the current regime and prolong the island’s agony. The success of Cuban-American community is one of the most powerful factors in promoting change in Cuba. The transfer of goods and currency and especially the medical supplies help in creating a new set of Cuban community who no longer depend on government handouts. From am improved relation between Cuba and the United States, the Cuban-Americans are hoping for an end to the restriction on humanitarian visit ending the quota of Cuban-American who can visit their homeland yearly. “Even under the embargo, Obama could allow anyone to visit for cultural and humanitarian purposes, though not tourism, French says, adding: “There no reason the U.S should be restricting its own people’s travel”.”(Levine, 2009). Other benefit to the Cuban-American is that the ceiling of remittance increase. “We recommend that the ceiling on annual remittances be increased to $10,000.per household and that all U.S residents with family members living in Cuba should be permitted to send remittances to their family members at this level on a trial basis of 18 months”(Gelb, 01/1999). Other proposed benefits for Cuban-American that they are allowed to return back Cuba when they reach retirement age, if they choose to, and still be allowed to collect their benefits such as social security as if they were still living in the United States. From lifting of the 47 years old embargo, Cuban-American can expect to see improved and direct mail services between both countries. From improved relation between Cuba and the United States, the area of trade, if restrictions ease, the agriculture sector would increase tremendously. ”In fact agricultural trade has increased significantly already, following the 2002 policy change that allows sales of food medicine and lumber, all on cash basis. Cuba and Texas could forge an important trade partnership,” said Jaime Malaga, with the Texas Tech Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics’ Center for North American Studies, (Ron Smith 2006). Other area of trade that would benefit would be the rice industry. Since the collapse of the Soviet Unions, Cuba has forged itself to establish a relationship with the wider world. Many of its regulation had being suspended and countries are not taking that opportunity to invest in Cuba. We see many American are not doing businesses in Cuba or ever visiting. “Corporate America is eyeing Cuba with interest. About 3400 American business visits to Cuba took place last year, and 80000 American are visiting the island annually,…”(Clark and Ratliff,2001). With such improve relation between Cuba and the United States, it is expected that the U.S. could help to improve the poor human right record in Cuba. Although many favor the lifting of the embargo, President Bush still maintains the stand to keep the embargo in place. “At a Ceremony on May 18th to mark Cuban Independence Day, Bush reiterated his opposition to any relaxation in sanction and his support of a bill before the Senate to provide $100 million to the Cuban opposition”(Clarke and Ratliff,2001). Now many American, mainly Cuban-American including President Obama are now realizing the gross benefits that can be derived from improve relation between Cuba and the United States. Although now in favor of lifting the embargo he stops short of endorsing travel for all American. With such improved relation many Cuban-American will be able to assist their family back in Cuba. Health care and agriculture would see a vast improvement. In the area of tourism, any American along with Cuban-American would be able to visit freely and would also see a higher remittance from families in the U.S to those back in Cuba. With this new Democratic government in place headed by President Obama one can only hope that this renewal of relation between both countries can and will benefit the Cuban-American.
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