U.S. Economic Sanctions on Cuba


For nearly six decades, the U.S. has enforced an official ban (el bloqueo) on trade and other economic transactions against Cuba. Since its introduction, the embargo has been the center of many political and socio-economic debates. In 2014, President Obama’s administration made a significant shift towards normalizing the relations between the two economies. The government initiated series of steps to normalization, notably, the opening Cuban and the U.S. embassies in Washington and Havana respectively in July 2015 (Oppmann). While the current government has acknowledged the need to maintain diplomatic ties, President Trump has expressed his intention to roll back the policy on Cuba unless Cuba meets some conditions (Merica). The U.S. should initiate strategies aimed at simplifying the restrictions to enhance the trade between the two countries, improve Cuba’s economic growth, and contain other social problems.

Diplomatic Relations and Global Economy

Diplomatic relations are significant determinants of the global economy. They promote effective trade policies and access to international markets. Askari and Najafi who examined the impacts of U.S. diplomatic relationships on sixteen countries note that even though there have been mixed results, generally, such ties have led to significant improvements in the economies analyzed, especially in developing countries (259-262). In addition to helping the foreign country, the cross-border relationships have been fundamental in the management of global issues such as environmental pollution, terrorism, and pandemics, which have had significant impacts on the American economy.

The History of U.S. Diplomatic Ties

The U.S. government has an extended history of withholding diplomatic ties to punish countries that decline to further its interests. The U.S. such sanctions for various reasons including to uphold human rights, compel other states to comply with international trade policies, and to inflict vengeance (Wilkinson 30-31). Wilkinson’s critical examination of the government’s intended achievements suggests that the embargo on Cuba is likely to remain for an extended period since it satisfies important emotional and symbolic government needs, and it is unlikely that any administration will be willing to remove them unless Cuba changes its stand on some sensitive issues (32).

Adverse Effects of Restrictions

Even though such restrictions can be justified, they have adverse effects on both Americans and the residents of Cuba. The impacts have been examined from multiple perspectives. Napier argues that even though the embargo aims at enhancing democracy in the island nation, it hurts the people of Cuba and destroys the reputation of the U.S. (65). Cassandra, Curtis, and Thompson’s review of the U.S.-Cuba trade history note that the sanctions have been an economic strategy that has suppressed the economic growth of both Cuba and the U.S. Southeast (172). Given the above observations, the government needs to initiate procedures for simplifying the barriers and eventually lifting the ban.

Works Cited

Askari, Hossein, and Najafi, Amir. “The Impact of Political Relations between Countries on Economic Relations.” PSL Quarterly Review 65.262 (2012): 247-273. JSTOR. Web. 6 November 2018.

Cassandra, Copeland, Curtis Jolly, and Thompson Henry. “The History and Potential of Trade between Cuba and the U.S.” Journal of Business and Economics 2.3 (2011): 163-174. Research Gate. Web. 6 November 2018.

Merica, David. “Trump Unveils New Restrictions on Travel, Business with Cuba.” The Museum City of the New York, May 1, 2012, http://edition.cnn.com/2017/06/16/politics/trump-cuba-policy/index.html. Web. 6 November 2018.  

Oppmann, Patrick. “U.S., Cuba Re-Establish Diplomatic Relations, Reopen Embassies.” CNN, 21 July 2006, https://edition.cnn.com/2015/07/20/politics/cuba-u-s-embassies-opening/index.html. Web. 6 November 2018.  

Wilkinson, Stephen. “A Perfect Impasse? Cuba’s Move towards the Market and the United States’ Move towards Cuba.” Economic Affairs 37.1 (2017): 19-35. Research Gate. Web. 6 November 2018.

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