To What Extent Has the Trade Embargo Against Cuba Been Effective in Fulfilling American Foreign Policy?


  • Raffi Karamanlian


The United States trade embargo against Cuba was imposed in 1960, a year after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, when Cuba nationalized American-owned properties and strengthened its ties with the Soviet Union. The embargo remained in effect after the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union. The United States tightened the embargo through the Cuba Democracy Act (1992) and the Helms-Burton Act (1996), widening the scope of the embargo to include foreign companies and subsidiaries of American companies conducting business with Cuba. The trade embargo remains in place. This project questions how effective the trade embargo has been in fulfilling American foreign policy goals. A review of the scholarly literature suggests partial answers and adds depth and complexity to understanding the mechanisms behind the embargo. Future data-driven research on the forces within the United States that influence Cuban policy, along with further studies within Cuba, may enable us to formulate a more comprehensive picture of the effectiveness of the embargo in fulfilling American foreign policy aims.




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