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How probable is a lift of the embargo that the US maintains against Cuba?

Background of the 50 years of the Embargo

Cuba and the United States of America once enjoyed good diplomatic and economic relationships. This relationship turned sour when Fidel Castro was the president of Cuba. Cuba embraced communism by creating economic and diplomatic ties with the then Soviet Union. The main reason for the hostility between the two countries harbouring of nuclear ammunition by Cuba (Crahan, and Castro 2016). These were acquired from the Soviet Union. This posed significant security threat to the United States which is just 90 miles from the Cuba. This heightened the cold war. It is worth noting that the contemporary Cuba is still under communism rule. Although this is the case, the country no longer poses any security threat to the United States. Despite this, the United States has not yet lifted the embargo imposed on Cubs more than 50 years ago.

The original purpose of the embargo was to isolate Cuba and force it to go back to an open and a democratic form of government. As evidenced by the state of thing in the contemporary Cuba, it is obvious that these two aims of the embargo have failed. Is it justifiable then to continue with the embargo even when Cuba no longer poses any security threat to the United States? It is without doubt the high time that the United States reconsidered the embargo. In a nutshell, it is the high time that the embargo should be lifted. Lifting the embargo would have great advantages to the two countries. Such a move would allow the US to concentrate on more important security threats such as cyber welfare and nuclear proliferation. It is therefore necessary for the US to stop focusing on a non-existent cold war and use those resources to focus on the real security threats. In a nutshell, lifting the embargo would be a great way of ensuring that the security policy shifts focus to the 21st century threats.

Diplomatic relations between Cuba and the US were terminated officially on January 1963. Eisenhower was the then president of the US and is the one who facilitated the termination. The following year, that is 1964, the US officially imposed an embargo on Cuba. As discusses earlier, the embargo was purposed to achieve to main aims. The first was to encourage Cuba to bring to an end its communist rule. The second was to force Cuba embrace democracy. More than 50 years later, the embargo has not achieved its intended effects. Cuba is still under communism and there seems to be no signs of embracing democracy in the near future. The US government has enacted several laws to further restrict trade between Cuba and the US. This has not bore any fruit.

Members of the US senate has expressed their disapproval of the embargo on several occasions. One of the politicians who was very keen on seeing this embargo come to an end is senator John Kerry. He was the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He has expressed his disapproval on several occasions. In December 2009, he wrote an open editorial article where he outlined his reasons for disapproval. At around the same time, another senator, Lugar, compiled a staff report in which he argued that the United States should focus on ending the embargo. He argued that the US should lift the embargo and instead focus on creating good partnerships with Cuba. He observed that such a move would be advantageous to both countries. This report was prepared in the year 2009.

Reasons for Lifting the Embargo

Another key development in eliminating the embargo was made by the House Agriculture Committee. The house voted in favour of a travel restriction reform and export enhancement act (Baker 2014). The act which is awaiting further approval by the house would bring significant changes to the relationship between the United States and Cuba. One of the milestones that would be achieved through enacting the act would be expanding trade between the two countries. In addition, the act would prevent the US president from imposing any travel restrictions between the two countries for all US citizens and the permanent residents. This would go a long way in doing away with the embargo and ensuring good diplomatic relationships between the two countries. It is worth noting that enactment of the act would also simplify trading of agricultural goods between the two countries. Let us look at a brief history between the agricultural trade between the two countries. Before the reign of Fidel Castro, the United States was the main supplier of agricultural goods to Cuba. Such goods as sugar and other foods were mainly imported from the United States. Imposing the embargo therefore meant great suffering for Cuba. There was great food shortage and Cubans had to devise new ways of farming to ensure food security. The relations with the Soviet Union also increased during this time and most of the imports to Cuba were from the Soviet Union (Henken and Vignoli 2015). This brief history provides some insight in to the former agriculture trade relations between the two countries. Lifting the embargo would go a long way in ensuring fair and free trade between the two countries. Form the current state of thing, it would be true to conclude that the embargo can be lifted any time soon.

There are several reasons that makes lifting of the embargo necessary. One of these reasons is that the US would be in a better position to fight the threats of the 21st century. It is worth noting that the United States devotes both time and resources to fighting a cold war threat from Cuba. As seen in the previous discussion, this is unnecessary and uncalled for. Cuba no longer poses any security threat to the United States. Senator Chris Dodd made some important argument relating to this in the year 2005 (Gordon 2016). He noted in an op-ed that the Us spend significant amount of time and resources to enforce sanctions. He argued that this is not necessary. According to the senator, such resources could rather be spent fighting terrorism. Terrorism poses significant security threat to the US and therefore the argument of the senator is valid and founded on a firm ground.

It is worth noting that the amount dedicated towards enforcing the embargo is limited while compared to the amount that the country spends in dealing with other security threats. Still, lifting the embargo would have a positive impact in the fight against the threats of the 21st century (Korn and Smyschkovich 2018). All the resources that are used in enforcing the embargo could be channelled to fighting the modern threats such as terrorism and cybercrime. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is under the treasury department. OFAC is the one that is responsible for imposing sanctions on countries that are problematic. Such countries include Iran and North Korea. It is also tasked with the responsibility to deal with any economic threat posed by terrorist organizations and the drug traffickers. Due to its role, it is the one that oversees the trade sanctions to Cuba. As indicated, the office carries out very important and sensitive duties. Lifting the embargo would leave the office to deal with more important issues. Cuba does not pose any security or economic threats to the United States.

Fighting the 21st Security Threats

Cuba is on the list of sponsors of terrorism. This list is maintained by the state department. Other countries on the list are Iran, Syria and Sudan. Security experts have reiterated time and again that Cuba is on the list only for domestic political reasons. US intelligent community released a security report in the year 1998. The report indicated that Cuba did not pose any threat to the US national security. Despite the report, Cuba continues to be on this list. If Cuba is removed from this list, the state department could focus more on the actual sponsors of terrorism and crime in the United States. As indicated by extensive evidence, Cuba does not pose any significant threat to the national security of the United States (Whitney 2015). For this reason, the US government should consider withdrawing the embargo and restoring diplomatic relations with the United States. Therefore, if the US lifts the embargo, it would be in a better position to focus on the contemporary security challenges. This kind of reasoning is likely to bring an end to the embargo. This is likely to happen very soon since security is of importance to any nation.

It is worth noting that Cuba is not the only country that the United States have imposed an embargo on. The US have imposed such sanction to several other countries some of which were even more problematic. These embargos were however lifted later. These countries include China, Vietnam and the Soviet Union. In the contemporary society, maintaining great economic relations with other countries is vital to economic growth. We live in an era of economic integration. There is no single country that can claim to be self-sufficient. A country depends on others for what they do not have. It is therefore important to maintain good diplomatic relations with other countries (Stephens 2016). The other countries have appreciated the fact the Cuba does not pose any significant threat to security or economy. This has left the United States as the odd one out. It is odd in the sense that it has not yet lifted the embargo on Cuba.

Since the other countries are willing to supply Cuba with all it needs, the embargo by the US will never achieve its intended effects. It is analogous to pouring water on the ground with the hope of recollecting it back the jar it was contained in. As we all know, that is quite impossible. It follows that the only effect that the embargo has and will continue to have is hurting the US economy. It is also worth noting that the Cuban leadership often blames the poor standard of living for Cubans on the United States (Renwick, Lee and McBride 2016). The leadership uses the embargo to ‘preach’ how the hostility of the US has led to the poor living standards in Cuba (Francis and Duncan 2016). This move has made the Cuban citizens and also other countries of the world view the US as an oppressor of the people of Cuba. Lifting the embargo and ensuring good diplomatic relationships would ensure that the leaders do not use the explanation above as a scape goat for their laziness and ineffectiveness.

If the embargo were to end. Cuba would form a sizeable market for products and services from the United States. Let us look at an example. In the year 2008, the US exported food worth 710 million dollars to Cuba (Frank and Trotta 2015). This made the United States the largest food supplier to Cuba. It is worth noting that these exports were made when the embargo was still in place. This is a clear indication that lifting of the embargo and re-establishing diplomatic relations would offer great economic advantage to the United States (Mejia, Alleyne and Romeu 2017). Let us now look at a study done by the University of Texas A&M in the year 2010. The study made some important findings concerning the embargo. One of these was that lifting of the embargo could result in 365 million dollars as increased sales from the United States (LeoGrande 2015). In addition, the move could lead to creation of at least 6000 jobs in the United States (Frank 2015). It is worth noting that unemployment is still an issue of concern in the United States. This move would help create employment opportunities. The government is likely to look at some of these great advantages of lifting the embargo and consider doing away with it. There is a high likelihood that this is going to happen in the next five years.

While the United States should focus on ensuring that Cuba becomes a democratic society, it should not make it a precondition. Vietnam and China are communist countries. While this is the case, the US has made significant efforts to establish diplomatic relationships with these countries. In fact, the US trades with the countries. Cubs should therefore not be an exception when it comes to this. The US could pursue their objective of seeing Cuba become a democratic country. However, it is not wise for the US to provide the condition that Cuba must be democratic if they are to trade. Such a move would be very unfair to Cuba. Every country should have the freedom to choose the kind of governance that they want as long as they do not interfere with the peace and wellbeing of other countries (Dixon, 2017).

Extensive evidence suggests that lifting of the embargo would go a long way in curbing the narcotics trade which would be advantageous to the two countries (Keck, 2016). This move would help reduce the narcotics business. In addition, it would help build trust between the two countries. Policy makers from both the US and Cuba could come to the conclusion that the embargo has failed to meet its objectives and therefore chart another way forward. It is not wise to continue implementing a policy that is not likely to yield any results (Seidman 2015). For this case, the embargo is never likely to achieve its objectives. It has been more than 50 years since it was imposed and it has not achieved any of its objectives (Fabry 2015). The policy makers should therefore ensure that the embargo is called off which would be of advantage to the two countries.

Lifting the embargo would help Cuba move to the 21st century. Cuba still has a long way to go when it comes to economic development (Maloney 2014). Good diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States would help reduce Cuba’s barriers to development (White 2017). The barriers would be minimised through economic and diplomatic channels established between the two countries. It is worth noting that Cuba has still a long way to go to become modernized. Let us look an example. The developed world is a bout to launch the 5th generation of internet connectivity (5G). The fastest at the moment is the 4G which is about 10 times faster that the 3G. In Cuba, the most prevalent form of internet connectivity is the 2G. 3G was introduced just recently and it is very costly. Most Cubans don not have access to reliable internet connection. This is just an illustration of the situation that Cuba is in. Establishment of diplomatic relations with the US would greatly help Cuba make progress. For instance, technology experts would be sourced from the US to help upgrade the internet connectivity. With good diplomatic relations, the process would be easy, swift and cost effective. The US government could even offer incentives to the mission which would see great technological advancements in Cuba. In the modern age, technology is vital for development. A country that does not employ technology shall surely be left behind when it comes to development. Lifting the embargo would therefore be very important to the development of Cuba.

It is important to note the Obama administration made some important moves to settle the matter with Cuba (White 2015). Although the embargo was not lifted, the administration made it easier for Cuban Americans to visit their family members in Cuba (Serbin 2016). In addition, it became easier for the Cuban Americans to send remittances to family members living in Cuba. The executive arm was however limited in lifting the embargo. This is primarily the role of the congress. The law stipulates that it is only the congress that can pass legislation to bring an end to the embargo.

Under the current laws of the United States, the embargo can only be lifted when Cuba elects a new government in a democratic manner. This means that there is a condition for the lifting of the embargo. Therefore, to facilitate lifting of the embargo, it is essential that the congress enacts a law repealing this. Unless this is done, the embargo cannot be effectively lifted. There are several individuals/groups who are opposed to the lifting of the embargo. One of these is Peter Brookers who a former assistant to the secretary of defence. He argued that lifting the embargo could make Cuba strong economically and also politically (O'Donnell 2017). According to him, this would significantly interfere with the interests of the US in Latin America and the Caribbean. This argument is not valid. While Venezuela, for instance, has posed significant challenge to the US, the relationship between the two countries have not had any significant influence/threat to the security of the United States. Venezuela is more economically endowed than Cuba. This is largely attributable to the oil reserves in the country. considering the fact that Venezuela is more economically endowed and has not had any geopolitical challenge, it is very unlikely that Cuba will pose any challenge.

Others have argued that lifting the embargo would be a way of encouraging the regimes that have been in power for the last five decades (Erlich and Kinzer 2016). In these decades, there have been many cases of human right abuses in Cuba. Those opposing the lift argue that the US would be promoting and encouraging these forms of human right abuses. The United States has been on the forefront when it comes to speaking against these forms of abuses. The opponents of the lift argue that diplomatic relations would make it easier for the regime to continue perpetrating the abuses for they would now not have criticism from the US (Fandl, 2017). This is however incorrect and based on a fallacy. Suppose the embargo was lifted and diplomatic relations between the two countries restored. The United States would be in a better position to encourage observance of human rights (Drain 2015). As observed earlier, the US could be a very important contributor to the economic situation of Latin America. With this economic influence, the Unites States could encourage the regime in power to ensure that human rights are not violated (Burns 2018). In addition, the goal of convincing the regime to adopt democracy would be easier when diplomatic relations exist (Haynes 2015). In a nutshell, lifting the embargo would have great advantages both to the US and Cuba. Lifting of the embargo is likely to happen soon since it has more advantages than disadvantages.

Conclusion

The embargo by the US on Cuba was imposed in 1963. The main reason for the embargo was to force Cuba to embrace a democratic form of government and doing away with communism. The embargo had significant effects on Cuba since most of the food that was used in Cuba was imported from the United States. This led to insufficient food and produce in Cuba. Although this happened, Cuba was not ready to do away with communism. Therefore, they looked for other ways of meeting the dietary needs of their citizens. More than five decades later, the US has not yet lifted the embargo. It is also worth noting that the embargo has not yet achieved its intended effect. As a result, it is wise for the US to consider withdrawing the embargo as this would have more advantages than disadvantages.

There are several advantages that the two countries could accrue if the embargo is lifted. One of these is that the US would have more resources to focus on the contemporary security threats. The United States still spends time and resources dealing with Cuba as a threat to the national security. Extensive evidence has revealed that Cuba no longer poses any security threat to the US. The US could therefore lift the embargo and use the resources for addressing the contemporary security threats. These include terrorism and cybercrime. Another advantage would be advancing economic security. This would be for the two countries. As noted earlier, lifting the embargo would help increase US’ exports to Cuba and create more than 6000 jobs for US citizens. In addition, the partnership that would result would help move Cuba to the 21st century. Cuba is still behind in many developmental issues and especially technology. The US would greatly help in ensuring Cuba’s advancement. Therefore, the two countries would benefit from the relationship.

There has been some progress when it comes to lifting the embargo. The Obama administration made a significant move. It allowed Cuban Americans to easily visit Cuba. It also made it easier for them to send renumeration to their families in Cuba. The executive arm is however limited when it comes to withdrawing the ban. It is only the congress that is bestowed with the power to do so. Considering the numerous advantages of withdrawing the ban, the ban is likely to be lifted soon.

References

Baker, P., 2014. US Will Restore Full Relations with Cuba, Erasing a Last Trace of Cold War Hostility. The New York Times.

Borenstein, I., Korn, A.B. and Smyschkovich, N., 2018. The Cuban Embargo Revisited: A Study of US Legislative and Executive Action towards Cuba. Routledge.

Burns, A., 2018. Economic imperialism in Cuba, 1898–2017: Hegemony and embargo: The Continuing Imperialism of Free Trade (pp. 47-56). Routledge.

Crahan, M.E. and Castro, S. eds., 2016. Cuba-US Relations: Normalization and its Challenges. Institute of Latin American Studies.

Dixon, A.C., 2017. A presidential paradigm shift: Changes in presidential rhetoric regarding Cuba. Routledge.

Dixon, A.C., 2017. A presidential paradigm shift: Changes in presidential rhetoric regarding Cuba.

Drain, P.K., 2015. Implications of repealing the Cuban embargo for US medicine and public health. Routledge.

Erlich, R. and Kinzer, S., 2016. Dateline Havana: The Real Story of US Policy and the Future of Cuba. Routledge.

Fabry, M., 2015. The US Trade Embargo on Cuba Just Hit 55 Years. Online. In Time. New York: Time. https://time. com/4076438/us-cuba-embargo-1960. Routledge.

Fandl, K.J., 2017. Adios Embargo: The Case for Executive Termination of the US Embargo on Cuba. American Business Law Journal, 54(2), pp.293-346.

Francis, T. and Duncan, T., 2016. The Cuban Experiment: A 50+ Year Embargo as a Failed Means of Promoting Economic and Political Development. Routledge.

Frank, M. and Trotta, D., 2015. US agriculture delegation visits Cuba, protests embargo. Routledge.

Frank, M., 2015. As US Food Sales to Cuba Slow, Farmers Seek to End Embargo. Routledge.

Gordon, J., 2016. Economic sanctions as ‘negative development’: The case of Cuba. Journal of International Development, 28(4), pp.473-484.

Haynes, S., 2015. The US embargo against Cuba in relation to negotiation. Routledge.

Henken, T.A. and Vignoli, G., 2015. Enterprising Cuba: Citizen empowerment, state abandonment, or US business opportunity? Routledge.

Keck, C.W., 2016. The United States and Cuba—turning enemies into partners for health. New England Journal of Medicine, 375(16), pp.1507-1509.

LeoGrande, W.M., 2015. A policy long past its expiration date: US economic sanctions against Cuba. pp.939-966. Routledge.

Maloney, A., 2014. Is it Time for the US Embargo in Cuba to be Removed? Routledge.

Mejia, M.S.A., Alleyne, M.T.S.C. and Romeu, R., 2017. Revisiting the Potential Impact to the Rest of the Caribbean from Opening US-Cuba Tourism. International Monetary Fund.

O'Donnell, T., 2017. Nigel D. White, The Cuban Embargo under International Law: El Bloqueo: Modern Law Review, 80(2), pp.370-373. Routledge.

Renwick, D., Lee, B. and McBride, J., 2016. US-Cuba Relations: Council on Foreign Affairs. Routledge.

Seidman, S.J., 2015. US–Cuba Relations from the Top Down and the Bottom Up. Reviews in American History 43(1), pp.184-191. Routledge.

Serbin, A., 2016.  Latin America and US-Cuban Relations. In A New Chapter in US-Cuba Relations (pp. 179-189). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Stephens, S., 2016. Cuba After the Gold Rush: What has been the role of US commercial interests in ending the US embargo on Cuba? NACLA Report on the Americas, 48(3), pp.260-264.

White, N.D., 2015. The normalization of US-Cuba relations: the easing of the embargo and the role of international law. Routledge.

White, N.D., 2017. Ending the US embargo of Cuba: international law in dispute. Journal of Latin American Studies.

Whitney, W.T., 2015. Devastating effects of US blockade. Routledge.

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