World Bulletin / News Desk
The United States embargo against Cuba is a commercial, economic, and financial embargo imposed by the United States on Cuba. An embargo was first imposed by the United States on sale of arms to Cuba on the 14th of March 1958, during the Fulgencio Batista regime.
Again on October 19, 1960 the U.S. placed an embargo on exports to Cuba except for food and medicine after Cuba nationalized American-owned Cuban oil refineries without compensation. On February 7, 1962 the embargo was extended to include almost all imports.
Currently, the Cuban embargo is enforced mainly through six statutes: the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917, the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, the Cuban Assets Control Regulations of 1963, the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992, the Helms–Burton Act 1996, and the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000.
The stated purpose of the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992 is to maintain sanctions on Cuba so long as the Cuban government refuses to move toward "democratization and greater respect for human rights".
The Helms–Burton Act further restricted United States citizens from doing business in or with Cuba, and mandated restrictions on giving public or private assistance to any successor government in Havana unless and until certain claims against the Cuban government were met. In 1999, President Bill Clinton expanded the trade embargo by also disallowing foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies to trade with Cuba. In 2000, Clinton authorized the sale of "humanitarian" U.S. products to Cuba.
Despite the Spanish-language term bloqueo (blockade), there has been no physical, naval blockade of the country by the United States after the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. The United States does not block Cuba's trade with third parties: other countries are not under the jurisdiction of U.S. domestic laws, such as the Cuban Democracy Act. Cuba can, and does, conduct international trade with many third-party countries; Cuba has been a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) since 1995.
Beyond criticisms of Human rights in Cuba, the United States holds $6 billion worth of financial claims against the Cuban government. The pro-embargo position is that the U.S. embargo is, in part, an appropriate response to these unaddressed claims. The Latin America Working Group argues that pro-embargo Cuban-American exiles, whose votes are crucial in Florida, have swayed many politicians to also adopt similar views. The Cuban-American views have been opposed by some business leaders who argue that trading freely would be good for Cuba and the United States.
At present, the embargo, which limits American businesses from conducting business with Cuban interests, is still in effect and is the most enduring trade embargo in modern history. Despite the existence of the embargo, the United States is the fifth largest exporter to Cuba (6.6% of Cuba's imports are from the US). Cuba must, however, pay cash for all imports, as credit is not allowed.
The UN General Assembly has, since 1992, passed a resolution every year condemning the ongoing impact of the embargo and declaring it to be in violation of the Charter of the United Nations and international law. In 2014, out of the 193-nation assembly, 188 countries voted for the nonbinding resolution, the United States and Israel voted against and the Pacific island nations Palau, Marshall Islands and Micronesia abstained. Human rights groups including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights have also been critical of the embargo. Critics of the embargo say that the embargo laws are too harsh, citing the fact that violations can result in 10 years in prison.
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