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Cuba and embargo

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Cuba and embargo

By: patty young


Cuba and the Affects of the Embargo The island nation of Cuba, located just ninety miles off the coast of Florida, is home to 11 million people and has one of the few remaining communist regimes in the world. Cuba's leader, Fidel Castro, came to power in 1959 and immediately instituted a communist program of sweeping economic and social changes. Castro allied his government with the Soviet Union and seized and nationalized billions of dollars of American property. U.S. relations with Cuba have been strained ever since. A trade embargo against Cuba that was imposed in 1960 is still in place today. Despite severe economic suffering and increasing isolation from the world community, Castro remains committed to communism. (Close Up Foundation) The United States and Cuba share a long history of mutual mistrust and suspicion. All aspects of U.S. policy with Cuba, such as the current trade embargo, immigration practices, and most recently the possibility of a free exchange by members of the media, provoke heated debates across the United States. While most Americans agree that the ultimate goals should be to encourage Castro's resignation and promote a smooth transition to democracy, experts disagree about how the U.S. government should accomplish these aims. Some believe that the country's current policy toward Cuba is outdated in its Cold War approach and needs to be reconstructed. However, many still consider Fidel Castro a threat in the hemisphere and a menace to his own people and favor tightening the screws on his regime even more. (Close Up Foundation) For almost forty years, the United States has not imported any Cuban products, nor allowed any American food, medical supplies, or capital to enter Cuba. President Clinton, like each of his predecessors, supports the trade embargo. Two recent pieces of legislation have tightened the economic restrictions on Cuba. (Close Up Foundation) The Cuban Democracy Act, passed by Congress in 1992, further isolates Cuba from the world economy by prohibiting any foreign-based subsidiaries of U.S. companies from trading with the country. The bill's goal was to cripple the Cuban economy in order to bring down Castro 'within weeks,' according to the bill's primary advocate Robert Torricelli (D-N.J.). The Helms-Burton Act states that American citizens can sue foreign investors who utilize American property seized by the Cuban government. In addition, those who 'traffic' in this property or profit from it will be denied visas to the United States. Supporters of the legislation believe that prohibiting foreign investment will quicken Castro's downfall. (Close Up Foundation) Many debate on the issue of why the U.S. should or shouldn't keep the ebargo against Cuba. These debates deal with the effects of the Embargo on Cuba's economy, humanitarian rights and health of the people of Cuba. The embargo today places a ban on subsidiary trade, Licensing, shipping and humanitarian aid. (Close Up Foundation) In 1992, the Cuban Democracy act imposed a ban on subsidiary trade with Cuba. This ban restricted Cuba's ability to import medicines and medical supplies from third country sources. There have also been corporate buy-outs and mergers between U.S. and European pharmaceutical companies thus adding to the number of companies permitted to do business with Cuba. Under the Cuban Democracy Act, The U.S. Treasury and Commerce Departments are allowed to license individual sales of medicines and medical supplies, supposedly for humanitarian reasons to make up for the embargo's impact on health care delivery. According to the U.S. corporate executives, the licensing provisions are so tough as to have had the opposite effect. With this statement, it is assumed that there are fewer licenses given out for humanitarian reason therefore favoring the embargo and aiding in the downfall of health in Cuba. Since 1992, the embargo has prohibited ships from loading or unloading cargo in U.S. ports for 180 days after delivering cargo to Cuba. This has discouraged shippers from delivering medical equipment to Cuba. Due to this, shipping costs have risen and further constricting the flow of food, medicines and medical supplies to Cuba. Another result of this is Cuba's increased spending on shipping medical imports from Asia, Europe and South America rather than from the neighboring United States. Charity hasn't been enough for an alternative to free trade in medicines, medical supplies and food. With the delays in licensing and other restrictions have discouraged charitable contributions from the U.S. The effects of the bans on subsidiary trade, licensing, shipping and humanitarian aid has contributed to malnutrition, poor water quality, lack of medicines and equipment and updated medical information. The ban on the sale of American foodstuffs has aided in nutritional deficits. These food shortages were linked to an outbreak of neuropathy numbering tens of thousands. Poor water quality is due to restrictions on Cuba's access to water treatment chemicals and spare-parts for the islands water supply system. This leads to unsafe drinking water therefore causing rising mortality rates from water-borne diseases. (American Association for World Health) Many foreign investors see great opportunities in the Cuban trade market, because of the end of Soviet aid and decades of the U.S. trade embargo. For example, Canadian businesses are benefiting from the lack of competition from the United States. Canadian pharmaceutical companies are marketing Cuban products, Canadian mining companies are developing uninhabited areas in Cuba, and hotel chains are operating state-owned resorts on Cuban beaches. American investors take note of all this and conclude that they are missing out on valuable business opportunities. (Close Up Foundation) The primary purpose of the Embargo was to help facilitate the removal of Castro from power. In order to accomplish this goal, the U.S. has worsened the economy. Cuban's live under conditions of mass unemployment, widespread hunger and insufficient wages. In a report done by the close up foundation, there is a statement made by a Cuban market vendor. This Cuban market vendor commented, 'the only way people can buy [meat] regularly is if they get money from relatives abroad or from something illegal.' People opposing the U.S trade embargo point out that by injuring the Cuban economy is cruel and inhumanely by denying people basic essentials. However, supporters of the embargo argue that isolating Cuba from the global economy is the most effective way to weaken Castro's political support. People that support the embargo believe that there is a large body of false information and accusations made on the United States. There has been false accusations that include U.S. policy to deny medicine or medical supplies and equipment to the Cuban People. (Burns) ...

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