Five Facts about the Cuba Embargo

Since 1962 the Cuba embargo has prevented trade between the US and Cuba.  Here’s why, and when it might change.

Cuba embargoFor years, relations between the US and Cuba had been so disconnected that when communication was warranted, Switzerland acted as moderator between them. The Cuba embargo was fueled by:

Below are five facts that illustrate where Cuban relations are and where they’re likely going.

1.) Despite recent shift in policy President Obama voted to renew Cuba embargo

Despite a recent shift in policy change Obama opted to renew the Cuban embargo in September 2015, marking its survival for over half a century (54 years).

This move, however, stands in stark contrast to a recent policy shift through which The President  plans on doing a number of things, which include:

  • Easing travel policies
  • Bolstering imports and exports
  • Expanding Cubans’ access to The Internet

2.) The entire world is against the embargo

Globally, the Cuba embargo is wildly unpopular. For instance, in 2013 the U.N. and 188 countries openly criticized the United States’ embargo on Cuba, making Israel the only open proponent of severed relations between the countries, besides the U.S.

3.) Cuba was the only country embargoed by the U.S.

Formerly Cuba and North Korea were both embargoed by the U.S., but in 2008 under the Bush Administration, heavy trade sanctions were lifted from North Korea, making Cuba the last surviving country under such sanctions until President Obama’s recent push towards normalization.

4.) Public opinion on the embargo has changed drastically

According to a PEW research poll in 2015, an overwhelming 72 percent of Americans believe that the US should end the Cuba embargo.

What’s more indicative of a changing public sentiment is that even in Florida, a Cuban-American hotbed (Cubans make up roughly 36 percent of Florida’s Latino electorate), the Wall Street Journal reports that a majority 51 percent of Florida’s Cuban-American registered voters support the lifting of the Cuban embargo.

5.) The President cannot revoke the Cuba embargo alone

Political relations were reestablished between the US and Cuba in 2015, and in 2016 travel restrictions were eased.  Some expect the embargo to be lifted soon, however there are some obstacles:

  • The President does not have the authority to lift the embargo alone, because the US Congress has codified the embargo into law
  • Only Congress can lift the embargo

Congress has some members who are vehemently anti-Cuba, so it is unclear when the embargo might be lifted. Some, including President Obama, expect the sanctions may be lifted by Congress in the next President’s term. 



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James Pero