It has been 53 years since the United States established its embargo on Cuba, with no end in sight. Political analysts and economists agree that America’s hard-nosed policy towards Cuba has become more of a tradition than a foreign policy objective. Both Americans and Cubans continue to be punished for diplomatic quarrels that are generation old, even as avenues for trade and commerce have developed around the blockade. If the goal of the embargo was to liberate Cuba from the Castro brothers’ communist rule, it has failed decisively.
Continuing the embargo defies logic, appealing to history rather than present day reality. It has gone on for so long that there is no political benefit for America to suddenly stand down on the issue, something that Washington officials aren’t quick to admit.
“Cuba doesn’t matter anymore now,” Ted Piccone, a former National Security Council official and now deputy director for foreign policy at the Brookings Institution told Politico. “There’s no political incentive” to change the policy — even though the arguments for changing it are rife. Despite ample provocation, the U.S. doesn’t impose similar embargoes on other authoritarian states.
In recent years, Cuban citizens have been granted new freedoms under the communist government, particularly since Raul Castro gained power from his brother Fidel. While U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice was quoted as saying the embargo would not end until “Cuba is free,” America willingly supports oppressive governments across the globe, allowing other countries to forgo sanctions on Iranian oil, and sending billions in aid to Egypt.
For the 23rd consecutive year, the United Nations has voted to condemn the United States embargo on Cuba, with 189 countries voting in opposition. Prior to the vote, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said that the embargo had cost the Cuban economy $108 billion. Cold War politics are extinct, but it appears to be little more than stubbornness that keeps the embargo alive.