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Cuban Embargo Update: Vast Majority Oppose It, So Why are We Still Acting Like It’s 1961?

Every year, U.N. member countries vote to either support or condemn the U.S. embargo against Cuba. For the last several years, 185 countries have voted against the embargo, while three (U.S., Israel and Palau) voted to support it.

Now, in preparation for this year’s U.N. vote, Cuba is trying to seize on a growing sentiment in the U.S. to end the embargo. Furthermore, with Cuba laying off 500,000 government workers in a sort of pseudo-capitalism economic reform, there has never been a more opportune time to highlight the injustices suffered by the county in part due to the embargo. In particular, Cuba claims the embargo cost them $751 billion since it began in 1961. Of course, the embargo also stops Cuba from getting medical and farming equipment required for basic survival.

Already this week we saw a scathing intellectual deconstruction of the issue in the Washington Post. There is growing opposition to the embargo appearing in op-ed pieces from around the U.S., from small Florida newspapers to massively popular blogs like The Huffington Post.

The old arguments supporting the Cuban embargo — that it is a bargaining chip to reform Cuba’s government with a more democratic system, and that it stops the spread of communism — seem hopelessly antiquated nearly 50 years after it was enacted.

So why in the world, if everyone is against it, does the Cuban embargo persist? This post from the United States Cuba Policy & Business Blog sums it up nicely:

“The arguments for lifting the travel ban and ending the embargo intellectually have clearly been won on the basis of reason, logic, public policy, and what is in the strategic interests of the United States. However, where it has failed thus far is the political argument. Its about the money folks. In Washington DC whatever you back, better be backed up by money, and votes.”

As we have written before, Cuba’s relatively small economy and population make it a low priority for Washington policymakers. In addition, politically mobile organizations that fight to end the embargo are few and far between, and no match for the “old boys club” running the show on Capitol Hill.

Without question, the tide is turning. As Americans realize the economic destruction we cause to Cuba, the violation of our constitutional rights to travel the world freely, and the win-win drive to open up Cuban travel and trade, the embargo is being brought into question more and more each day.

Perhaps those Cuban cigars aren’t so far away. First Obama has to make a move. The world is waiting.