Unjust and uneconomical U.S. embargo against Cuba must end

Alan Duff

The embargo that the United States first imposed on Cuba in 1962 has run its course. The Soviet Union collapsed 19 years ago, and Raúl Castro, Cuba’s current leader, has announced he’s willing to talk with the U.S.
It is time for the U.S. to change one of its most outdated, uneconomical policies. The Cuban Embargo is no longer politically or financially reasonable.
Forty-eight years ago, the original Kennedy-era justification for the embargo was the stealing of “some $1.8 billion worth of U.S.-owned property,” according to the U.S. Foreign Claims Settlement Commission – a great sum of money, but nothing compared to what it is now costing the United States to maintain the embargo.
Today, the estimated costs of the embargo each year for American businesses are in the billions. Even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reported that the embargo costs the U.S. economy and tax payers $1.2 billion per year.
Since the recession hit, one would think Congress and the President would be eager to save every penny they could, but many policy makers have found excuses to continue the embargo.
The idea that the U.S. will not reestablish its political ties and end the embargo with Cuba because it is a communist country is also ridiculous. There is a major problem with that: the United States’ largest trading partner is communist China. Why should we take issue with Cuba’s government, but not China’s?
These polarized foreign policies seem particularly foolish when they make the U.S. look hypocritical. Since 1992, the United Nations General Assembly has made it an annual event to condemn the “unjust” embargo of the U.S. against Cuba in an almost unanimous vote of 173 to three. The only two countries that choose to side with the United States are Israel and Palau, a former protectorate of the U.S.
The embargo against Cuba doesn’t make sense economically and it is making countries around the world angry with us, but what do the American people think? The U.S. is a democracy after all, where the populace should decide.
According to a 2010 CNN poll, 71 percent of the Americans who were surveyed said that the U.S. should reestablish diplomatic relations with Cuba.
The Obama administration’s statements that the embargo will not end until Cuba undertakes democratic and economic reforms is also disappointing – especially when coming from a president who, during the campaign, expressed a desire to meet with the leader of Cuba and said, “I would never, ever rule out a course of action that could advance the cause of liberty.” This is a chance for the Obama administration to take one such action.
Though many social and financial challenges exist in Cuba’s future, including a weak economy and a workforce that can’t be supported by the island’s resources, Cuba has slowly begun to change many of its constrictive policies.
Since July, the Cuban government has cooperated with the Cuban Catholic Church to allow the releases of several political prisoners. The government has announced that eventually all will be released in the next few months.
With the help of the United States, Cuba could solve many of its problems and even take steps towards a free market, just like China has begun to do. All our current administration has to do is keep their promise to end an outdated and unjust embargo.