Written by Puff Staff

Friday, 22 March 2013

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altThe U.S. embargo against Cuba has been in place for over 50 years, longer than many of the people affected by it have been alive. As a cigar smoker, you’re one of the citizens suffering from this embargo, since it prevents the importation of Cuban cigars into the country, as well as denying you the opportunity to visit Cuba’s tobacco fields and factories. (Yes, there are ways to get around both, but we don’t recommend trying them unless you have a really good lawyer.)

What is the Cuban trade embargo, why does it exist and more importantly, has it outlived its time?




A Little History

After Fidel Castro overthrew the regime of dictator Fulgencio Batista to take over Cuba in January 1959, the country began to be seen as a threat to U.S. security. Located less than 100 miles from the tip of Florida, Cuba was seen as unfriendly to the U.S. and way too close for comfort. Castro’s alliance with Russia was a large part of the problem.



Calls for an embargo arose after Cuba nationalized the properties of U.S. citizens and corporations on the island. A partial embargo on Cuba had been enacted in 1960, with the near-total embargo going into effect on February 7, 1962. The embargo led to the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962, which brought the U.S. to the brink of nuclear war with Russia after Premier Nikita Khrushchev placed Soviet missiles on the island.

JFK and His Petit Upmans

Ironically, the president in office when the embargo passed was the POTUS best known for loving cigars—John F. Kennedy. Decades later, Kennedy’s former press secretary Pierre Salinger recalled how he helped his boss stock up on his favorite Cuban cigars just ahead of the embargo in 1962.



On very short notice, Salinger managed to score 1,200 Petit Upmans before Kennedy signed the final embargo. Since JFK was assassinated the next year, that number of cigars would turn out to be a lifetime supply.

Decades later, there are many in government having second thoughts about continuing the embargo. After 50 years of supporting the idea that the embargo and other sanctions against Cuba were necessary to thwart the totalitarian Castro regime, now even Cuban exiles are taking a new look at the policy. Back in 2009, the Obama administration lifted travel restrictions for Cuban Americans and has since been working behind the scenes with the Cuban government on other issues.

Valid Reasons

In 2010, Politics Daily published a list of “Ten Reasons to Lift the Cuban Embargo,” and they’re worth considering.

Number one: It’s good economics. Ending restrictions on travel and investment between the two countries would result in a economic boon for both—something that would be very welcome about now.

Number two: It’s good politics. While supporters of the embargo think we need to keep up the pressure against the Castro regime, others point out that trade contributes to a more “economically independent and politically aware middle class.” Also, if more Americans spend time on the island, they will have additional insight into how democracy can make inroads into the country’s culture.

Number three: It’s a double standard. As political satirist Stephen Colbert pointed out, Cuba is “a totalitarian, repressive, communist state that—unlike China—can’t lend us money.”

Number four: It’s out of date. This one’s pretty obvious, since the embargo is the last vestige of the Cold War still allowed to hang around.

Number five: It doesn’t work. We have no way of knowing how economic sanctions are benefitting the U.S. economy—if they are even beneficial at all.




0 # There's Skepticism That It Was Meant to go on This LongDamselNotInDistress 2013-03-23 11:46
Of the many, MANY articles that have come out on this subject, one did point out how President Kennedy had papers laid out and arrayed on his desk to end the Embargo, anyway. With his having been assassinated not too long afterwards, it has been speculated that the papers, therefore, have been frozen in time. In short, had he lived, he would have ended the Embargo during that early 1960's time period and possibly sought other avenues to either deal with or befriend our neighbor 90 miles south of here. Maybe some enterprising White House office official may retrieve those papers the President at that time was apparently ready to sign - and then give those papers to this new President who is also open minded and not full of vitriol toward our southern neighbors as well!

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0 # RE: Is it Time to End the Embargo Against Cuba?FNA 2013-03-25 15:17
I'd like to comment on half of your alleged arguments:

1 You assert ending the embargo would be an economic boon for the US, but you state no reason for believing this to be true or even any reason to believe.

2 “if more Americans spend time on the island, they will have additional insight into how democracy can make inroads into the country’s culture.” Again, just wishful thinking. There is no reason to believe tourists have any concern with political questions

4 Out of date. Since the embargo was put in place to subvert the Castro government and the Castro gov’t is still in place, it is not out of date but is currently doing what it has always intended to do, bring pressure on the communist government.

5 econ benefits to US. The embargo was never intended to bring economic benefits to the US (see above), although in fact it has been a boon to US sugar producers, as sugar is Caba’s no 1 export

The areas of the island catering to tourists are fancy and up-to-date, while people in the rest of Cuba struggle to survive. So your belief is by creating more tourism we will not benefit the tourism industry but other areas in Cuba. Interesting.

I'm not saying the embargo should stay. I am saying you make poor argument against it.

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0 # end itRon Lewis 2013-03-28 07:54
End the embargo because first of all we are free to go and partake of anything in life and not to be shackled from what we like to do period and smoking Cigars is what I like to do.

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