February 2012 marked the 50th Anniversary of the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba.
President John F. Kennedy put the embargo in place as punishment to Fidel Castros regime, and the U.S. hoped the embargo would force Castro into accepting democratic reforms and allowing more political and economic freedom for the Cuban people.
However, 50 years later, the outdated Cuban embargo has only succeeded in decreasing the quality of life for Cubans, pushing the Cuban government toward leftist allies in South America and giving them a scapegoat for their economic and political mismanagement. Furthermore, the U.S. maintains the Cuban embargo despite many other countries in modern times having equally poor human rights records.
No other country in the world embargoes Cuba like the U.S. does. In fact, every year for the past 20 years a United Nations resolution has been passed condemning Americas embargo against Cuba.
In 2010, 186 countries signed a UN resolution condemning the U.S. and only the U.S. and Israel voted against it, according to the Associated Press.
The embargo actually has the opposite effect in terms of undermining the Castro regime.
The Castro regime is able to use the embargo as an excuse for their failed economic and political policies. Instead of being held responsible for their economic shortcomings, the Cuban regime is able to blame them on the U.S. Ending the embargo would end the excuses and force the Cuban government to be responsible.
The Freedom House 2012 Report, which ranks countries on their levels of political and civil rights, rated Cuba Not Free and placed it in the same category as China, Laos, Vietnam and Saudi Arabia among others. China and Saudi Arabia actually had identical scores to Cuba.
Interestingly though, the U.S. does not have economic embargoes against either of these countries, according to the U.S. Treasury.
In fact, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, China is Americas No. 2 trade partner and Saudi Arabia is Americas No. 10 trading partner. So if the embargo is truly being maintained because of moral obligations to freedom or democracy, then we are being very selective about whom these morals apply to.
President Barack Obama deserves recognition for lifting bans on Cuban Americans ability to travel to Cuba and for sending remittances to families in Cuba, according to the AP. These are moves in the right direction.
America should continue to slowly scale back the embargo and eventually end it completely.
One thing America has historically failed at is acknowledging its mistakes in foreign relations. The Cuban embargo, a holdover from the Cold War era, is a prime example of outdated and ineffective policy and should be ended.
Ty Gilligan is a student at Miami University.