After 50 years, it’s time for the US to give up the Cuban embargo

I’m one of over a million Cuban-Americans living in the U.S. I have a story similar to many others: my parents came here searching for the American Dream. My dad actually left Cuba in the early 80s and headed to college in Russia, where he met my mom. He took her to live in Havana after they graduated, with me in tow, but they didn’t have an easy time finding jobs, so they eventually moved back to Moscow before we came to settle in Miami, Florida.

I haven’t been back to Cuba since I was just over five years old. A lot of my family has since come to the US as well and we’re all thriving and doing well. But some family still remains there and I have begged my grandmother to take me back. “No,” she told me, “not until things get better.” So when are they going to get better, exactly?

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Today is the 50 year anniversary of the Cuba embargo enacted by President John F. Kennedy, a man that I have always admired. Although a lot has changed since 1962, the U.S. economic embargo on communist-run Cuba has remained constant. There is still a near-total trade ban and, although President Barack Obama has loosened up regulations for Cuban-Americans traveling to their country of origin, it’s still really difficult to get there.

And what has the Cuba embargo accomplished, exactly?

When it first came up at the height of the Cold War, it was because Cuba was aligned with the Soviet Union (now defunct) and was a pain to the US government. Those that support the measure say that it is a justified means to punish a repressive government. Others say that it is a failed policy that has hurt ordinary Cubans instead of the government.

I’ve read both sides of the argument and I have to ask: after 50 years, can’t we make up our minds about whether it’s helping or hurting? The US government wanted the Cuba embargo to push Dictator/President Fidel Castro out of power. Well, he’s still there and so is his brother.

My grandmother once described the scene she saw when she last visited her brothers in Cuba five years ago: people so poor that they couldn’t afford toilet paper. Toilet paper! I’ve never even thought about not being able to afford toilet paper. So I ask: are we really hurting the Castros with the Cuban embargo or can we finally admit that this policy has only hurt the people that need our help the most. After 50 years, isn’t it time to let bygones be bygones and just give it up?

Do you think that it’s been enough time and the US should drop the Cuban embargo, or do you still support it?

Images via Raka18, hannanik/flickr