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U.S. should approach Cuban embargo with caution

Published: Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, November 21, 2012 08:11

It has been more than 50 years since President John F. Kennedy signed a trade embargo against Cuba, mainly because of Cuba’s relationship with Russia during the Cold War and the Cuban Missile Crisis. The embargo restricts American companies from forming business relationships
with Cuban interests.

Since the embargo took effect in 1962, debate over its ramifications on the Cuban government and the potential good that lifting the sanctions could do for Cuban citizens has been a major ethical issue in American foreign affairs. Speculation arises that Cuba may be less tentative to allow American business interests in the country, as it would allow Cuban citizens and businesses to prosper and take control and capital away from the government.

The U.S. should move cautiously toward lifting the embargo and engaging in this type of economic partnership with Cuba, as it runs the risk of benefitting only the Cuban government’s agenda, rather than for the good of the people.

Currently, only a small amount of humanitarian aid, such as medical supplies and food, can cross the Cuban border and reach the Cuban population. Beyond that, Fidel and Raul Castro have shown little to no signs of giving in on their stance to remain self-sustaining. Cuba has proven that there is little wisdom in this philosophy, as much of the country lives in poverty.

The dilemma revolves around whether American engagement in Cuba would actually go to help its economy or just be pilfered by Castro’s regime. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lethinen (R-Fla.), chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told the New York Times that “we should not buy into the facade the dictatorship is trying to create by announcing ‘reforms’ while, in reality, it’s tightening its grip on its people,” suggesting that the embargo should not only be left in place but also that its restrictions should be magnified.

Lifting the embargo, in theory, seems like it would open up a new era of investment in Cuba, allowing U.S. and Cuban businesses to work together and create economic capital for the state — and this is the ideal goal. Yet the risk of government corruption is too great, and the U.S. should work slowly to make changes to its policies, lest its actions end up supporting a regime it has fought so hard to suppress.

Despite how relentless American political discourse can get, the oppression that Cubans face from their government is daunting enough. While the Cuban embargo is unlikely to let up until their government is willing to lessen the totalitarian control over its people, America should be working proactively to end the embargo in a manner that pushes Cuba toward democracy and a free-market.

 

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