After Obama win, goodbye to Cuban embargo?

November 5, 2008

–Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own–

By Bernd Debusmann

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – If votes in the United Nations serve as a gauge of global opinion, 98.9 percent of the world opposes the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba, a measure imposed 46 years ago to isolate the communist-ruled island and bring down its leaders.

It failed on both counts. As far as international opinion is concerned, the country that is isolated is the United States, not Cuba. In the latest of 17 successive U.N. General Assembly resolutions on lifting the embargo, Washington mustered only two allies — Israel and Palau, a Pacific island nation difficult to find on a map. It has a population of 21,000.cubans

The Marshall Islands (pop. 63,000), which had voted with the United States from 2000 to 2007, unexpectedly and without public explanation broke ranks this year and abstained in the vote, a non-binding resolution taken a week before the U.S. presidential election.

The count — 185 countries in favor of lifting the embargo, three against — speaks volumes about a bankrupt policy stuck in the Cold War era.

Will that kind of America versus the world line-up change under Barack Obama? Not necessarily. The man who made history on Nov. 4 by becoming the first black to be elected president of the United States has promised to “ease” sanctions if Cuba took “significant steps toward democracy, beginning with freeing all political prisoners”.

He has not said what it would take for the United States to end the embargo, kept in place by 10 successive U.S. presidents, both Democrats and Republicans.

During the Cold War, when Cuba was a heavily-armed outpost of the Soviet empire just 90 miles (145 km) from Florida, a majority of Americans agreed with a hard line on a Communist government that violates human rights and holds political prisoners. That attitude has been changing since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

According to a Zogby poll taken a week before the election, 60 percent of Americans believe that Washington should revise its policies towards Cuba. In particular, 68 percent thought Americans should be allowed to travel to the island and 62 percent said U.S. companies should be allowed to trade with it.

If that happens, it won’t be soon.

Latin America in general and Cuba in particular are not likely to figure high on the agenda of a new president who is inheriting two wars and the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. American presidents tend to promise greater attention to southern neighbors but usually do not follow through.

“I’m not so idealistic as to think that the embargo will be lifted immediately,” Cuban dissident and writer Jorge Olivera told Reuters Havana correspondent Jeff Franks.

“But I expect better times as much for the United States as for Cuba. I don’t want to die without seeing an end to this conflict that began when I was born.”

Worth noting: Under a 1996 law, the president needs congressional approval to lift the embargo or to recognize any government that includes Fidel Castro, who officially stepped down in February, or his brother Raul, who took over from him.


In the past, the most fervent opposition to ending the embargo — the effects of which have punished the population for the actions of a leadership it did not elect — has come from the Cuban-American community in South Florida. But even this is changing.

“U.S. policy towards Cuba is at best static and at worst counter-productive, a source of increasing frustration to many Cuban Americans,” Jorge Mas Santos, chairman of the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF), wrote late in October in a Washington Post opinion column that endorsed Obama.

CANF was set up in 1981 by Mas’s father, Jorge Mas Canosa, with the express aim of overthrowing the government of Fidel Castro. For years, the group exerted enormous influence on Washington policy makers — as well as on presidential candidates keenly aware that winning the White House without winning Florida is a very difficult undertaking. Obama won the state comfortably.

Cuban exiles, numbering around 650,000, account for just over a quarter of the total population of the greater Miami area. In the past, the Republican Party took the loyalty of most of them for granted — Cuban Americans have traditionally voted four to one for Republicans.

The three Miami-based Cuban American Republicans who serve in the House of Representatives — all supporters of the embargo — were re-elected. Their votes against changes Obama might propose once he takes office on Jan. 20 can be taken for granted.

Some of the most pointed criticism of the embargo has come not from Democrats but from conservative businessmen who resent the fact that American business has been kept out of Cuba while most of the world is engaged there.

In the words of Tom Donohue, CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce: “All you have to do is go over to Cuba and watch how the Spanish, the French, the Latin Americans and everybody else on the globe are building resorts or trying to invest, and we are sitting here with a 50-year-old policy that doesn’t work.”

The prime beneficiaries from an end to the embargo would be American agricultural exporters. “But just about every industry could benefit,” according to Donohue, “for the simple reason that there is such pent-up demand. Look at the cars they are running — Jack Kennedy was in office when half of them were sent down there.”

(You can contact the author at

(Pictured above: Cubans in Havana watch Barack Obama on the news on November 4, 2008.  REUTERS/Enrique de la Osa)


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Just as Cuba has been help hostage by the US embargo, so has the politics of the US. Those Cubans who fled to the US and have for 40 years waged a war against ending the embargo. Their cries of “Take back Cuba” echo in the halls of Congress and the White House forcing whoever is in office to placate these groups so as to fend off criticism of being “soft” on Communism and Castro. What they expected was to have Castro
fail and then march into Cuba, take over and have everything just as it was before the revolution . How many are there of these “Anti-Castroites”? Perhaps 750,000, yet there
are 12,000,000 on the island of Cuba. Do you think that after 50 years these islanders would let them come back and take over? Many on Cuba have been given opportunities
that would never have happened under the old Batista regime. Just try and “invade” Cuba and watch how fast the people of that island come to defend it. To paraphrase and American political saying, “Castro may be a political bastard, but he’s our bastard

Posted by David Dee | Report as abusive

I am a Cuban American and I oppose the embargo. It has done no good as far as deposing Castro. Ths Cubans have nothing to sell, except cigars and tourism, so lifting the embargo would only help Cuba’s economy marginally. Only if Cuban moves to a Chinese type of economy, and allows foreign investment in production facilities, will their economy be improved significantly.

Posted by George Gerson | Report as abusive

What about all the countries that Cuba has trade & buisness with? Spain, Germany, France ! They all have Super Resorts in Cuba, take in Millions of dollars a year. But the Communist Government takes the money for example a hotel worker would make $10,000 a year but the company pays the Government and the Government pays the worker $200 dollars a month if that! So the Communist Government is the first that must go! They control EVERYTHING in Cuba. The Ebargo is an Excuse for Communist corruption and control of the economy. But it sounds great to blame the devil to the north , the U.S. for the imposed poverty.

Posted by Eric | Report as abusive

It’s about time to eliminate the embargo against our neighbor. We’ve punished Cuba enough for defeating us in this hemisphere. Isn’t it enough that we occupy some of their land (Gitmo)?

I can’t wait to go there legally and experience their music, food, arts…their culture.

Posted by Alex from Chan | Report as abusive

I am also a Cuban-American, born in Cuba and brought to this country in the Mariel boat lift. At first, I agreed with the embargo then I visited Cuba for the first time in 23 years. I was 9 when I left and I did not recognize anything. If it wasn’t for the little money sent to the remaining family members they would lead a very dificult life.Its been 4 years since the visit and now with all the hurricanes that struck the Island things are worse, there is no food even in the countryside where it waas easier to survive before, now even if you have Dollars there is no food. If it wasn’t for the kind of politicians that ran against the Diaz-Balart brothers this time around. I am a conservative Republican, i would of voted democrat just to be able to change the mindset and opportunistic position these people have been used to. THE EMBARGO HASN’T WORKED IN 50 YEARS, ITS ONLY MADE THE MIAMI POLITICIANS AND RADIO PERSONALITIES RICH WHILE THE PEOPLE OF CUBA STARVE AND THE RELATIVES IN THE U.S. HAVE TO PAY $.89 A MINUTE TO TALK TO THEIR RELATIVES 90 MILES AWAY. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

Posted by Pedro Alvarez | Report as abusive

We do business with China and other bad people…why punish the people of Cuba/.

Posted by old ewok | Report as abusive

I find it interesting that at the CFR there is a expert named Julia Sweig who advocates loosening up trade with Cuba. However, none of the CFR friendly presidential candidates was willing to commit to ENDING the embargo. Instead the only presidential candidate who raised substantial money and was 100% in favor of free trade with Cuba was branded as a “isolationist” in most of the media. Ron Paul is for free trade with Cuba.

Canada and Mexico are the # 1 an 2 trade partners with the US …Cuba would probably be 3rd -5th in only a few years….this would be one immediate step that could be taken that would be a immediate plus on our hurting economy…and it has no drawbacks….yet the neo-cons and democrats persists in this idiocy. WHY? The election is over, it isn’t out of fear of floridian cuban voters. Democrats have majorities in all over the place and this issue would allow Obama to really embarass the republicans as all of the so called “free market fundamentalist” would have to admit that free trade with cuba is beter than no trade…and it would be the humanitarian thing to do for the cubans!

Yet the democrats have no interest in ending the embargoe.
Who benefits from us maintaining foreign enemies nearby?
Military industrial complex….people who wish to keep oil off of the market and prices high…people who resent the cubans for not having a criminal federal reserve bank connected to the same guys who just robbed our citizens of a trillion dollars.

Posted by Gabe | Report as abusive

Trade with Cuba? REsearch yourself how many nations send goods to Cuba but never get paid. Here is one of the latest:  /story/750294.html

The Embargo exists for one reason, for every country in the world to understand what the U.S. will do if you steal our business interests in your country and nationalize our investments.

Once Havana repays with interest what it stole from U.S. businesses, there will be little to keep the embargo in place.

History will absolve me!

Posted by Gary | Report as abusive

As a Band leader on a cruise ship back in the 80’s we used to steam past Cuba a lot
I’ve always been aware of their great food and musical talent and always longed to go there someday… We the US have been duped into having an idiotic boycott of
that brave little country for years and now It’s time to extend the olive branch of peace…Lets all hope this new administration is up to it …GET REAL GUYS…

Posted by John True | Report as abusive

Isn’t it ironic that one of the many complaints successive Washington administrations have had against Cuba is that it imposes travel restrictions on its citizens while the U.S. does exactly the same? The United States is the only Western country that explicitly forbids its people to travel to a specific country; i.e. Cuba, and even fines them if they circumvent the ban. What Obama could and should do is lift its travel restrictions and allow every American to travel to Cuba. That in itself would hollow out the embargo. It might even result in the eventual collapse of the Cuban government. There really can be little doubt that Fidel Castro would not have stayed in power as long as he did if he did not have the embargo as a convenient excuse for everything that went wrong in Cuba, starting with the economy. Raul Castro has the same excuse. It should be taken from him.

Posted by Marco | Report as abusive

Well, why dont we go to Cuba and start trading. Obama said we will not go there unless Cuba releases it’s political prisoners. Do you really think that is going to happen. Cuba is being maintained by Hugo Chavez, who just finish nationalizing more companies in Venezuela. The point is that Americans want to go there and give more money to the regime, and they dont understand what it will do. Why isnt Bacardi running operations in Cuba anymore, because they are scared of getting nationalized. We should do it, and let every company get nationalized there. No one speaks about, and how lazy the Cuban government is to pay you back. It is communism for a reason people. Everyone makes the same amount there. You need to get the facts straight.

Posted by Mike Cuban | Report as abusive

But…but… was a Democrat who started this nonsense, that apollo of elitism, John F. sorry-my-back-is-broke, Kennedy…and do you now want the second-rater will-o-the-wisp who is channelling him to summon up the political courage to do this?
Think again kids!
Just like celibacy is dogma so too is the embargo on Cuba. Abandoning it now means admitting that was wrong in the first place! That is admitting defeat! But then I suspect that the Obama Regime will admit defeat everywhere around the world!
One Great Future for A World-Beloved America…Coming Up!
And don’t give me all that guff about “the world, and America and the President have changed!” There are some enemies who sue for peace with you because YOU have NEVER sued for peace with them!
And hell, it’s just a few more years anyway before the Boys of Bahia, Fidel and Raul are dead, and Cuba gets back to being the lazy shiftless place it was prior to 1959!

Posted by elixelx | Report as abusive

I find it EXTREMELY sad that Americans are asking for the lifting of the so called Embargo, but are not calling for Castro to dismantle Communism instead.

Hey Castro, we just had free and fair elections, why don’t you try that as well!!!!!!!!!!

PS-, we already sell tons and tons of goods to Cuba on a cash only basis.

Posted by Dino | Report as abusive

Dino: Following your logic, the U.S. should stop trading with China until they have free and fair elections?

Posted by Marco | Report as abusive

I am not ok with Communism anywhere in the world. If your argument is about third generation social rights, a European style social democracy fills those needs. Fundamental rights preserved, with a mixed market economy combined.

It should bother you that Communism exists period. I have nothing against social democracies, but Communism is too far.

Every freedom loving person needs to abhor a police state anywhere on earth. If you lived in Cuba, even writing your opinions on something like this, is forbidden. That needs to upset you.

Posted by Dino | Report as abusive

I HAVE been to Cuba, legally, in recent years and I think it is time to relax the restrictions. Americans cannot appreciate the place by monitoring it from LandSat or KH-* satellites.

I suspect that the Americans are fearful that Cuba could become an economic superministate like Singapore or Dubai. There is money to be made there and why should the EU, China or Venezuela get the lion’s share?

Posted by ricardo chelekis | Report as abusive

Another Cuban-American, here since 1960. Time to move on from that Cold War stuff. It serves no strategic interest of the US to continue the status quo. A ‘Glasnost’ attitude and allowing the Cuban people to decide for themselves without interference would work wonders.

The younger generation in southern FL calls it ‘abuelito’s issue’ because it is. The current Cuba isn’t the Cuba of the 60’s. We should support and encourage democracy in Cuba while accepting their right of self-determination.

Chastising Cuba by continuing the embargo actually punishes the Cuban people for not revolting against their government and installing a democratic government. I don’t think we have a right to ask them for that…

Posted by Alfred P. Reaud | Report as abusive

If American can elect a mixed race president, then it’s time to change all those old policies that are not working and haven’t worked.

Besides that, Castro has become an old man, surgery has removed some of his power, the rest has been given to Raul, his brother.

Now that we have Obama, it’s time for a complete change . . .

Posted by Apres Ski | Report as abusive

Cuba being held prisoner by the US embargo????? you have got to be kidding me. How about all the people imprisoned in Cuba because of resistance to the governement. Get real people Cuba is an island prison to their own people. People here in the US are so freaking spoiled and have no clue what its like to be ruled by communism. At least you are free to have these opinions and express them. In Cuba you would be thrown in jail never to be seen or heard from if you gave any opinions contrary to the beliefs of Castro.

The problem with Cuba before the revolution was corruption. By no means did the US own Cuba. Many counties had interests in Cuba and profited. But the Cuban people were also better off. Cuba was not that great of a place before the revolution is you lived outside the bigger cities in Cuba. This was the same for many developing nations around the world. Castro tricked his citizens into thinking he was going to rid the country of corruption(he did of the mobsters but just traded it for corruption of Cuban Communist officials). His slogan was also “Change” and he promised that he would later hold elections. He did not and has never relinquished his choke hold.

If his country supports him so much than why are Cuban citizens treated like prisoners on their own island? People have no idea what actualy goes on in this country and I have seen it first hand.

I have traveled to Cuba many times with a Swedish team to help solve problems and study how the revolution has worked. I too went in skeptical as to why the US would have this embargo to make Cubans suffer. The reality I learned is that it is not the US that causes this suffering, it is Castro and his communal government that are inept at everything but keeping their island a prison.

Posted by Jay | Report as abusive

I’m a Hispanic-American married to a Cuban, and I was able to legally visit the island this past Spring. It is true that the Spanish, Italian and others are investing heavily in the island while our businesses are shut out by a self-imposed handicap. Not only that, but Americans of all kinds are unfairly denied direct access to their relatives and families. My wife, for example, won’t be able to visit her parents and siblings until three years have passed since our last visit. What kind of anti-family policy are we maintaining? To what purpose?

Posted by El_Symber_Gwenza | Report as abusive

We have made peace with Vietnam, China and Russia. The Bush administration is talking with North Korea and President Obama has stated he will engage in dialog with Iran. The charge that Cuba is a “Terrorist Nation” is laughable and the only justification we have for maintaining the embargo is the placation of a small, but influential, group of Cuban immigrants who lost their property in a revolution that was their own national affair. Our continued interest in that conflict’s outcome only hurts the Cuban people, serves nobody’s interest and indeed diminishes our moral standing as a nation. Its time the embargo was moved into the “old” category in our world stance. If President Obama is serious about taking our country in a new direction, the continuation of this unjust and mean-spirited policy should be put to an end.

Posted by bob | Report as abusive

Having worked in intelligence during the Cuban Missile Crisis and living in Miami since 1968, I look at the Embargo as domestic policy more so than a major foreign policy failure. It has been counter-productive and an afront to all freedom loving Americans.

Telling me, a Vietnam Veteran, that I can freely travel to the Peoples Republic of Vietnam and that I can go to jail for vacationing in Cuba is repulsive, to say the least. My Cuban-born American citizen wife feels the same!!!

Posted by Ewing | Report as abusive

to GARY – re embargo because Cuba Nationalized US Business interests.. ok how about getting off sovereign Cuban territory like Guantanamo Bay – which is occupied by the US illegally.
Of course when it came to US interests they always had higher priority like United Fruit in Guatemala in 1954..the list goes on..

Posted by peter aardvark | Report as abusive

Peter, get your story straight. The U.S. has PAID RENT for Gitmo for over a century. It’s not our fault that the Castro regime doesn’t cash the checks. (o.k. so the rent is cheap)See Bay_Naval_Base if you want more details.
As for the embargo, it’s the only thing that’s keeping the Emperor’s New Clothes on the Cuban Revolution. If we dropped it, the Cuban government would be scrambling for ways to keep the people under its thumb.
We’ve seen what rapproachment can do–What did they call it, “detente”?–that eventually cracked Eastern Europe & the Soviet Bloc. Maybe it’s time to try it closer to home….

Posted by Fran | Report as abusive

You, the USA citizens only see the Cuba affair from your country view. I am a Guatemalan citizen y can tell you that the Cuban people have a better life level than most Latinoamerican people (including Guatemala). The Castro regime have a majority support of cuban people, although they have not freedom, because they access health, education, that most latinoamerican have not. Our governments in Guatemala, 1954 ago, had been under USA government influence, causing poverty, lack of wealth and education, and genocide. Ten years ago, many cuban physicians have came to Guatemala, saving about 200,000 lives of people whithout medical assistance. Overall, the cuban people have dignity.

Posted by Luis Rodolfo Cabrera Juárez | Report as abusive

While we talk about dictatorships and ways of doing away with them, we treat some very nicely and then very harshly. On the apartheid regime in South Africa an embargo was imposed on the South African Gov. and it pressure help oust that very unjust regime. Now, you have Castro the longest reigning dictator who has his own people living in an apartheid society, where human rigths are constantly violated, where the citizen does non have any rights and everybody wants to seat and talk to him. I do not understand, dictatorship is dictatorship; call it right called left called Pinochet or call it what you want. Castro is a ruthless dictator whom has destroy his country and destroy his society. Do whatever you want he is still an inmoral and despicable dictatorr.

Posted by Alexis A. Abril | Report as abusive


The most horrific aspect of the embargo to Cuba and its people, is that it has been promoted by extreme right wing cubans, who benefited from the corrupt government of Batista. If these extremist hate their own people, imagine what they feel towards Latin America.

In South America and Ecuador in particular, we have new socialist governments, but we do not run away to another country to complain about the sutupidity of our presidents, we stay and fight to overhtrow them, to work for better days for our country and our people.

The social differences in the Cuba of Batista were so vast, that the wealthy were few and the poor and uneducated were the greater masses. Although I cannot excuse Fidel Castro’s dictatorship, Cuba is a country were its people have a education system far better than any Caribbean and Latin American country.

The embargo should be lifted, democracy will triumph and native Cubans, not those from Miami, should be allowed to govern themselves without the Catro regime.


Patricio del Salto

Posted by Patricio del Salto | Report as abusive

It seems odd that we are best friends with Viet Nam after having tens of thousands of Americans die in battle 38 years ago but we have been enemies with Cuba for almost 60 years – a country that has never fought us or even has the ability to fight us.

Posted by rod rylander | Report as abusive

Is it logical that the US invaded Iran thinking that it may have WMD instead of invading North Korea whose president declared that they had nuclear weapons? Is our foreign policy completely based on oil?

Posted by rod rylander | Report as abusive

It is about time. That was the most stupid thing we ever did to a small country, which is our next door neighbor.
What did we accomplish, except get a 600 thousand Cubans to come to this country as refuges and we feed, clothed and housed them, when could have let them stay home and helped them build a good economy in Cuba.
We try to isolate Cuba and kiss the rear end of all the Chinese leaders.
Cuba could not beat Miami in a war and we let China walk all over us and no one has the guts to stop them from counterfeiting our patents and dumping goods on this country against the rules of the WTO. We also let ship any and all things here, but they do not our goods flow into China, and the idiot in Whitehouse calls that free trade.

Posted by Carl Justus | Report as abusive

There seems to be a lot of irony in some of these comments. The U.S. certainly doesn’t pay it’s bills on time as well as many of our States. We only pay interest on never any principal on Treasury issued debt. People making $2500 a year in Cuba at least have access to some health care. Can we say the same for American workers earning minimum wage and working less than 32 hours a week? 8 million Americans Families are at risk of losing there homes while our government tells us there are 500,000 more unemployed this past month than previously thought. Our banks are being nationalized by the Congress and the Treasury. Manufacturing has long been crumbling and now our entire economy is accelerating into a free fall.

I personally think we have little room to criticize the policies of the Cuban government or the the virtues of Capitalism versus Communism. In fact, I believe we will become far more socialist in the coming years in order to meet the needs of the people. Precisely because of our our own governments corrupt activities, deregulating the financial industry and pursuing campaign contributions from those who reaped the obscene profits, the United States has lead the world into an economic catastrophe. Or are we somehow unaware of these facts? None the less,what great accomplishments of this stature can anyone attribute to Cuba?

Posted by Anubis | Report as abusive

I’m sorry I just don’t get it. The argument is we can’t do business with Cuba, because they are Communist and violate human rights…right?
So why is it none of those factors matter as we do every sort of business with “Red” China? Oh sure you can say that China is not ninety miles away from Miami and that’s true, but China does hold the keys to our kingdom by floating a large part of our debt. And yes, they could shut us down by denying us spare parts for a lot of our military toys as well as our consumer products…come to think about it maybe we have the shoe on the wrong foot. Cuba can not hurt us in any way, but china could destroy our economy; so the best idea we have is embargo Cuba. I just don’t get it.

Posted by Rick Parker | Report as abusive

The majority of these comments are out of line and do not reflect the opinion of the American people. How quickly these people forget.

This communist regime stole from and nationalized privately and publicly held companies. Castro waited for the Havana Hilton to be complete before they took it. The Bacardi family had their distillery taken from them. The list goes on and on, not to mention the Cuban missile crisis.

There is no comparison to doing business with other communist regimes.

Posted by the Dude | Report as abusive

The USA trades with Russia, China, Libya and even Vietnam, so why not open up trade with Cuba? It would make a lot of sense for Cubans and for Americans.
The failed policy of attempting to isolate Cuba because of Castro’s defiance of America’s political, financial and military hegemony in the Caribbean basin and Latin America is causing poverty and misery to ordinary Cubans and punishing the whole country. The USA’s moral authority in the world has been severely undermined by the proven lies of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq and the election of Obama is a clear signal that enough ordinary Americans have stopped believing their government’s propaganda. Time for a change in direction and in policy.

Posted by Jo10 | Report as abusive

Why not just lift the embargo? What an incredible symbol of American goodwill! America is a beacon of morality. America is a leader in the free world. Show the communist’s in Cuba that we are bigger than them. Heck, show the whole world that America is bigger than this 50 year grudge. The goodwill that the United States will derive from that simple act is unquantifiable. Just do it. Lift the embargo. Let’s all start fresh. Change. Try something different. Doing so would be a sign of strength, not a sign of “softness.” It may very well shame the Cuban regime to change it’s Communist ways. And it just might be good for the World. Sort of the way the tearing down of of the Berlin Wall was good not just for the two Berlins, but for the whole world. Yes, let’s stop. Let’s have a do over between America and Cuba.

Posted by Marion TD Lewis | Report as abusive

The US wont trade with Cuba because it is an evil communist empire where assets have been nationalized and its people are oppressed?

What about VIETNAM? What about CHINA? What about RUSSIA? How many US Citizens died fighting those Communist countries? And now it’s “business as usual” because it is “good for business”. This is a good example of politicians talking out of both sides of their mouth, I think.

An embargo against Cuba is just plain stupid. However, as a professor in University said to me once, 20 years ago, “A Democrat can never end the embargo against Cuba, because they will be seen as soft on Communism. Only Nixon, a republican, or Regan, A republican, could have made peace with China and Russia, respectively”. I hope he is wrong, but I see nothing that would lead me to believe the contrary, even today.

Posted by Tom A. R. | Report as abusive

The time is right to get over the past and stop being small minded and petty. Ever notice that the few countries we seem to have trouble with, are the ones that have stood up to us and won. Let them live without our colonial interference. Besides Florida and Mexico are getting urban and fetid.

Posted by David Crosby | Report as abusive

Lifting the embargo is not going to return freedom to the Cuban people or better their lives. Castro has used the US embargo as an excuse to why the Cubans live in a meager way. If he truly wanted to improve the lives of the Cuban people, he could have been trading with Spain, France, and others all along. But bettering the lives of the Cuban people has never been in his plans, not for the last 50 years. Total control of the island and the Cubans, that’s all Castro cares about. The Cubans won’t benefit from the embargo, because Castro will make sure of that; it will simply make things easier for him while he is in power.

Posted by Jackie Alonso Lichtenstein | Report as abusive

Can anyone tell me how trade with many countries in Europe and other parts of the world changed the cuban government views on dissidents, political prisoners and the cuban people? The answer is none. People are still being persecuted and imprisoned for speaking their minds.
The only ones that will benefit from lifting the embargo will be the cuban government and the businesses that will trade with Cuba. The almighty buck is at work here.
The biggest embargo that Cuba faces is the embargo placed on the island by the Castro brothers and their pundits.
What has killed the cuban economy is not the embargo but the lack of a free economy driven by market forces.
Please read about the state of the cuban economy before Castro came into power and you will find that it was a prosperous economy.
Do not forget that when Hurricane Ike struck Cuba the US offered 5 million dollars with no strings attached to the cuban government and they refused, while the cuban people suffered in the aftermath of the hurricane.
What is the true embargo on the cuban people? The answer is the Castro brothers and their thugs.

Jorge M.

Posted by Jorge M. | Report as abusive

The embargo is childish and petty, its point now at best an anachronism. Ending it now is one more step towards returning to the family of nations.

Posted by Stephen P. | Report as abusive

It seems to me that it would be very difficult for Barack Obama to lift the embargo during a first term in light of statements he made during the campaign. But I wonder if he could allow trade in automobiles in lieu of a bailout of the American car manufacturers. It would cost less money to the American taxpayer and certainly would be better for the companies in question as compared to corporate welfare.

Posted by Ken | Report as abusive

What better way exists to revitalize our image in Latin-American than to lift this senseless embargo? Not to mention the fact that it would be a great counter punch against Hugo Chavez.

Posted by bob | Report as abusive

The only people benefitting from the embargo are some rich Cuban americans in Florida who claim to represent their people and (falsely) claim they favor democracy. What they never say is that before the revolution Cuba was a terrible place to live except for the 1% of wealthy people who lived like kings while poor people starved. Its still poor, but people eat and have health care and a higher literacy rate than the United States! Does that sound like a prison? Only to people who have never suffered poverty. Why punish poor children by preventing shipments of food and medicine? Its not like they voted for Fidel! !

Posted by Ronald Wilson | Report as abusive

What Ronald Wilson notes cannot be stressed often enough: There have been no free elections in Cuba; i.e. the people did not vote for Fidel nor for his brother yet the PEOPLE not the regime are suffering under the embargo. Fidel used the embargo as an excuse for everything he has done against the people. Yet the embargo did not bring him down. What the U.S. is doing, perpetuating this Cold War relic, conforms to Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity — doing the same thing over and over and over again and expecting different results. Enough already.

Posted by Mario | Report as abusive

I am a Vietnam Vet (TET 1968) and an African American. We have normal relations with Vietnam, a communist country. We buy catfish shrimp etc from the Vietnamese as well as many many products. Having said this THEY KILLED OVER 50,000 AMERICAN SOLDIERS and we as a country have no problem traveling and doing business with our former enemies. The Cuban people have not fought us in any war, nor have they killed hundreds of our citizens. Why is there an embargo when the rest of the world does business and trade with Cuba. Further as an African American who has visited Cuba, I am struck by the fact that 80% of the Cubam population LOOKS LIKE ME! The policy is RACIST period.

Posted by Marcus Taylor | Report as abusive

heck, its the quickest way to citizenship for Cubans. Just land on American soil, you stay. Everyone else gets deported home. Do you think those republican, Batista Cubans in south Florida want it ended, NO.

Posted by owen | Report as abusive

They need to drop the Embargo. Who cares if it’s a communist country. China’s communist and one of the US’s largest trading and financial partners. China’s daily human rights violations eclipse what happens over a year in Cuba. The only thing the embargo does is punish the average person in Cuba.

Posted by Ryan | Report as abusive

Do you honestly think that lifting the embargo will benifit the people of Cuba. Only the rich will get richer and everything else will stay the same.

Posted by Blair | Report as abusive

I’d be pleased as punch if Cubans were no longer treated as a protected class in the US. Castro is long gone – what is holding back the action? Why are we still handing out funds to Cubans and deporting other true refugees in worse Haitians for example? Let’s get this welfare show over with already!

Posted by Genie | Report as abusive

[…] of Europe is for is a bad thing and won’t help defend Europe. China begins to talk to Cuba. Cuba wants free trade with the U.S. And among all of this, the U.S. is telling the world that it would […]

Posted by Change We Need? » Globalization breeds global chaos (remember Imperialism) | Report as abusive

One thing to be made aware of is when the nationalization of American industries occured the Cuban government offered compensation for said industries based on the tax assessments imposed by the Batista government. Batista had imposed favorably tax levies as requested from these companies and received a stipend for doing so. Just something to consider.

Posted by Grant | Report as abusive

… and a fine cigar it is. Let’s lift the embargo.

Posted by Dan | Report as abusive

Obama had not even been conceived and was still in
diapers when the atrocities commited against the Cuban,
Cuban American and U.S. citizens occured in 1959-1963…
2008….. Does Obama plan to pay the more than 1.5 Billion owed to U.S. citizens as part of his “share
the wealth” or bring that government to trial. He faces
massive opposition on this!!!!

Posted by Adelaide | Report as abusive

More atrocities were committed by the Batista regime than all the years the Castro brothers were in power. This is the longest period in Cuban history that Cuba has had a government that ensures it’s independence. Most Cubans want a true independent Cuba free from outside intervention. Unfortunately, that government is communist. Hopefully that will change in the near future with Cuba maintaining it’s independence.

Posted by grant | Report as abusive

If you lived in a country that imposed the Platt Amendment 1902-34 and later the Helms-Burton act 1992, would you feel like rebelling.The U.S. should end the emgargo,distance itself from Cuban politics and communism in Cuba will sef destruct.

Posted by grant | Report as abusive

I am just back from a vacation to Cuba, today 29/11/08. I am British & did a 2 week tour.Some of my travelling companions said that they came deliberately to try & reduce the effect of the embargo. The last week was at a resort with many natonalities.Canadian, British, Brazilian, Russian, Spanish, Mexican etc. The embargo is useless & just gives the government there an excuse for its failures.But worst still it s helping keep the population in poverty. While i was there the Chinese President had just left & the Russian President had just arrived.Has the US government heard of “cutting your nose off to spite you face”?

Posted by Vincent O’Callaghan | Report as abusive

America is in a recession and is in need of additional revenue streams. Lifting the embargo would create jobs and billions of dollars for both countries. Get over a 50 year ols resentment and bury the hatchet. Obama needs to do whats right for the people.

Posted by george | Report as abusive

[…] Opinion is even more stark when you go outside the borders of the United States. If votes in the United Nations serve as a gauge of global opinion, 98.9 percent of the world opposes the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba, a measure imposed 46 years ago to isolate the communist-ruled island and bring down its leaders. […]

Posted by The Crossed Pond » Window of Opportunity for Normalizing Relations With Cuba | Report as abusive

[…] Opinion is even more lopsided when you go outside the borders of the United States. If votes in the United Nations serve as a gauge of global opinion, 98.9 percent of the world opposes the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba, a measure imposed 46 years ago to isolate the communist-ruled island and bring down its leaders. […]

Posted by Donklephant » Blog Archive » The Time for Change In Cuban Policy is Now | Report as abusive

Cuba Embargo
Castro should have paid for the stolen properties
By: Azuno Rodríguez

“When an injustice is committed even against a single citizen the whole Country should stand firm to correct that injustice.
That’s a sign of greatness”

The embargo in and of itself, is simply the refusal of the Castro regime to pay US citizens compensation for their seized properties. Had Castro paid, there would never have been an embargo.
During 2008, in a typical anti-American display, the General Assembly of the United Nations voted, almost unanimously, for a resolution asking the USA to lift the Cuban Embargo. They made a gross mistake because they were asking the wrong government. They should have asked Cuba instead, which is actually the only government that could unilaterally lift the embargo.
Was the purpose of the UN vote to help Cuba rise from poverty through commerce with our Country? It is unanimously evident that we are such an economic and generous power that even though Cuba can trade with all the countries on the globe, that it would perish if unable to trade with the US; am I missing something? I know that we are the greatest Country on earth, but I didn’t know that we were greater than all the rest of the countries combined. Thanks to all UN members for holding us in that high regard. Obama listen to their clamor: no change.
One thing remains clear from that UN vote: The USA is the only country who cares about the human rights of the Cuban people.
At the risk of being repetitious, let’s review a little history for many who appeared to have forgotten: After Castro seized the property of US citizens without compensation in 1960, President Eisenhower was forced to cease commerce with Cuba and in February of 1962 President Kennedy enacted a commercial embargo against Cuba freezing their assets in the USA.
Then in 1960, realizing that much of the existing machinery and equipment on the island was American made and required spare parts from the US, the Cuban government called a meting of its technical personnel. Experts from the Soviet block were going to instruct Cubans how to stand up to the embargo that had just begun. Some thought the Communists could teach the Cubans how to build those spare parts. A Hungarian technical “expert” opened the meeting and said “all you have to do is: buy through a third country” that was the beginning and the end of the meeting. That is how Cuba has been circumventing the embargo. Today products made in Florida by Cuban-Americans can be purchased in Havana’s dollar stores.
The seizure of American properties in Cuba was brutal, hateful and infuriating. For example, when Castro seized the Moa Bay Mining Company, a subsidiary of the Freeport Sulphur Company of Louisiana, it represented an investment of almost 90 million dollars, doubling the Louisiana’s company’s assets. Prior, and during a span of five years, the Louisiana Company developed a new process for extracting nickel and cobalt from the ore of Moa and during 1960 they were starting production runs. The final product was to be refined in Freeport. Then, Castro’s agents came to town in 1960, and gave the Americans 24 hours to close the plant and leave the island.
I am still ashamed by how my country treated and dispossessed these people of their property and livelihood. Most anyone who witnessed this first-hand would have shed a tear. I know because I knew them. As an engineer at Moa Bay I worked everyday hand-in- hand alongside Americans and Cubans. Bear in mind that only a small percentage of the personnel were Americans, most of the employees were Cuban engineers and laborers; my countrymen were being economically and emotionally raped by Castro government. In addition, the closure of the plant crippled a small town that was thriving economically because of its proximity to Moa Bay.
The plant was closed for over a year. Then Guevara asked some of Moa’s engineers, including me to help re-open the plant. I refused and surreptitiously left the Country within days when I was accused a traitor by Che Guevara. When the plant finally opened there was no market for its product. The final product of the plant could only be refined in Freeport Louisiana. The plant was opened by Che Guevara for the sole purpose of teaching the Soviets the process we created of extraction of nickel and cobalt through a new revolutionary chemical process of which the Soviets didn’t know anything about. Even if just for this single transgression, the embargo should only be lifted if Castro himself financially compensates those honest hard working Americans that worked at Moa Bay, along with an apology accompanied with a plea of forgiveness. Anything less will be immoral and criminal..
During a meeting in Europe, a few years ago, a Spanish military officer asked a closed friend of mine, Humberto Esteve, the following question: “Why is it than the Cuban diplomatic corps want the embargo lifted and our intelligence sections inform us that the Cuban military does not want it lifted? Humberto didn’t have an answer.
Let’s be clear, neither the Executive nor Congress could, unilateral remove the effect of the embargo. If commerce is open with Cuba, the Courts will be flooded with demands and financial embargos by the citizens whose properties were stolen by the Castro’s barbaric regime, and, that, ladies and gentlemen will be a much worse embargo than the one in place now.
For us to lift the embargo prior to 1992 it would have been a travesty of justice, an insult to every American citizen that lost his properties without compensation and an act of disrespect for this Country. Castro could have lifted it by paying and apologizing for what they robbed and then we may have talked about doing business with them, otherwise tell them and those here that wanted it lifted to go to hell.
Thanks to the efforts of the Cuban-Americans in 1992 the embargo was enacted into law as the Cuban Democracy Act and in 1996 the Helms-Burton Act was passed by Congress. Both of these were enacted to help the political freedom of the Cuban people. It provided further restrictions on any American commerce benefiting the Castro Regime. Now if Cubans are granted total freedom you can be sure that Washington will accept the return of the stolen properties or will credit the new free government on the Island the money necessary to compensate the rightful owners. UN General Assembly it is the Cuban dictator move; not the USA.

Let’s make Cuba free

Posted by azuno rodriguez | Report as abusive

Would ending the embargo stimulate the economy? We could market goods and services to them.

Posted by SJ | Report as abusive

Cuba cannot and will not return the properties it expropriated after the revolution.

The Cuban voting bloc has too much sway over the electorate. They only make up .003% of the US population.

Cuba is a sovereign country that will change in due time from the inside out.

Posted by END IT | Report as abusive

I am an african-american who loves latin music of all kind, especially traditional afro-cuban rumba; I play congas and to me, Cuba is a mecca of music. I think it is very unfair that Americans like me cannot travel to the island because of old cold war ideas. We can travel to China even though it is a communist country, so why not Cuba? Cuba, to me, is one of the very few places in the western hemisphere where you can find old african traditions that were passed down from Africa; it is, in that respect, a living time capsule, where you can glimpse into what 18th century african culture was like. I would love to go to Cuba for just 2 weeks out of the year and perfect my conga skills by learning from a great conguero in Matanzas. . . i would love to experience the strongest branch of my african heritage here in the western hemisphere. . .

Posted by Miko | Report as abusive

I am a southerner and they say that we are all living in the past down here. Well excuse me but the Cold War ended in 1991 and Cuba is no direct threat to the US. They have no human rights violations to compare to our biggest importer (china) which in itself is a Communist country so what is the problem? It was 47 years ago Barrack, Come on man get with the program.


Posted by Anthony | Report as abusive

I don’t think now as Obama has won there will be any change in the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba. He has relaxed the restriction on travel to Cuba by people who has family in Cuba and money transfer to Cuba but that doesnot mean he wille ase the restriction on trade specially on things like Cuban cigar.

Posted by Biki | Report as abusive

in fact its getting better with Cuba but its pity that us people cant enjoy Cuban cigars

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