Ending the Cuba embargo, a great American accomplishment


The U.S. has had an embargo on Cuba for over 50 years. | Photo courtesy of Getty images.

Here’s a true story about President John F. Kennedy as told by his former Press Secretary, Pierre Salinger. On February 2, 1962, Kennedy asked Salinger to go out and get him 1,000 Cuban cigars, telling him he needed them by the next morning. Salinger obliged and returned to Kennedy the next morning with 1,200 cigars. When he told the president, Kennedy said “Fantastic!” He then reached into his desk, pulled out a document, and signed it.

That document was the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba.

For more than five decades, the U.S. pretended that severing diplomatic ties and travel restrictions has been “effective” in thwarting communism in Cuba.

Despite the longtime conflicts between the U.S. and Cuba, relations are now beginning to be mended.

In April, U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro shook hands at the Summit of the Americas in Panama, marking the first meeting between a U.S. and Cuban head of state since the two countries severed their ties in 1962.

Maria Brera, 25, spent a week in Cuba during this last spring break with a group of students for one of her classes.

“As a political science major, I was just expecting a communist regime that’s strict and harsh, and I was surprised in every aspect,” said Brera. “It was very fun, very interesting and very educational.”

“People in Cuba actually want this, it benefits everybody,” said Brera. “I remember specifically one man that even told me ‘thank you for coming to my country’ after he knew we were Americans.”

Earlier this month, Secretary of State John Kerry flew to Havana, Cuba to mark a major step in the thawing of relations between the two Cold War-era foes. The U.S. flag was raised above the recently-reopened Embassy on this now historic day, August 14, 2015.

A Pew Research poll from December 2014 found 63 percent of Americans supported resuming diplomatic relations, and 66 percent would like an end to the trade embargo.

Despite positive public opinion of Americans, restoring diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba has brought political controversy for Obama.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. and presidential candidate, said the policy change was the latest in a long line of failed attempts by Obama to appease rogue regimes at all cost.

The anger retained by the Cuban exile community about this issue is real, but we also must admit that the embargo has been a failure. The time for change is overdue.

“There are those who want to turn back the clock and double down on a policy of isolation. But it’s long past time for us to realize that this approach doesn’t work. It hasn’t worked for 50 years. It shuts America out of Cuba’s future, and it only makes life worse for the Cuban people,” Obama said.

President Obama is right. For 55 years, the United States has done everything possible to shut off key resources to the island in hopes of weakening the Castro regime to drive it into the dust or where it could be easily overthrown.

But the perseverance and the staying power of the Castro regime continues, and the embargo has only worsened the suffering of the Cuban people.

We have failed to make the changes necessary, only bringing worse conditions to a country that continues to suffer due to ghosts of the past.

“Cold War Cuba isn’t the reality anymore,” said Brera. “I think that this step makes the U.S. look wiser and powerful; powerful without having to look violent.”

Raising our flag again in Cuba was a huge step towards ending the long years of hostility. We do not need to be friends or allies yet, but merely acknowledge this positive path will benefit both countries.

The milestones and accomplishments we create today are a part of the powerful history for our future. There is a lot that is changing with our country every day, and we have to remember that despite the importance of our country’s history, we should not dwell in the past.

Opinion columnist Rebekah Barquero is a print journalism junior and may be reached at [email protected]


    ECONOMIC EYE ON CUBA- February 2012 – Report For Calendar Year 2011

    The following is the data for exports from the United States to the Republic of Cuba relating to the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act (TSRA) of 2000, which re-authorized the direct commercial (on a cash basis) export of food products (including branded food products) and agricultural products (commodities) from the United States to the Republic of Cuba, irrespective of purpose. The TSRA does not include healthcare products, which remain authorized by the Cuban Democracy Act (CDA) of 1992.

    The data represents the U.S. Dollar value of product exported from the United States to the Republic of Cuba under the auspice of TSRA. The data does not include transportation charges, bank charges, or other costs associated with exports from the United States to the Republic of Cuba. The government of the Republic of Cuba reports data that, according to the government of the Republic of Cuba, includes transportation charges, bank charges, and other costs. However, the government of the Republic of Cuba has not provided verifiable data. The use of trade data reported by the government of the Republic of Cuba is suspect. The government of the Republic of Cuba has been asked to provide verifiable data, but has not.



  • REUTERS: Cuba says U.S. climbs to 5th leading trade partner-HAVANA | Thu Aug 14, 2008 – (Reuters) – The United States ranked among communist Cuba’s top five trading partners for the first time in 2007 despite the decades-old U.S. trade embargo, as U.S. agriculture sales increased by $100 million. Trade data for 2007 posted on the Web site of Cuba’s National Statistics Office placed the United States fifth at $582 million, compared with $484 million in 2006, including shipping costs.
    The United States, which began selling food to Cuba in 2002 under an amendment to the embargo, placed seventh in 2006 and 2005.


    CATHOLIC HERALD: Farc guerrillas hope to meet Pope Francis in Cuba

    The guerrillas, who have been in conflict with the Colombian
    government for five decades, “want to move the peace process forward,
    particularly with the support of the Catholic world,” Marquez said. “The
    Church can offer all its experience to help reach a final agreement.”

    Farc and the Colombian government began the peace talks in Cuba in
    late 2012, hoping to find a way to end the conflict, which has claimed
    some 220,000 lives.

    After a meeting on August 17 in Havana with the president of the
    Colombian bishops’ conference, Marquez tweeted: “We are optimistic. We
    are promoting bilateral cease-fire and righteousness. (The) Church has
    renewed its commitment to peace in Colombia.”http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2015/08/19/farc-guerrillas-hoping-to-meet-pope-francis-in-cuba/

  • By all means, lets lift the embargo and actually deal with the problems instead of ignoring them and hoping they just go away. That just never works.

    • Ending the embargo would just put more money in the pockets of those that are the problem in Cuba: the Castro military – political – economic elite. that would just make the problems for Cubans bigger.

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