United States Economic Blockade Against Cuba Becomes Near-Total Embargo

The United States Embargo against Cuba (described in Cuba as el bloqueo, Spanish for "the blockade") is a commercial, economic, and financial embargo partially imposed on Cuba in October of 1960 and strengthened to a near-total embargo in February of 1962.

It has been advocated by the pro-embargo Cuban-American exiles, whose votes are crucial in Florida, and consequently most politicians have chosen to adopt Cuban-American views. The Cuban-American views have been opposed by business leaders, who claim that trading freely would be good for Cuba and the United States.

The embargo was codified into law in 1992 with the stated purpose of maintaining sanctions on the Castro regime so long as it continues to refuse to move toward democratization and greater respect for human rights. It is entitled the Cuban Democracy Act. In 1996, Congress passed the Helms-Burton Act, which further restricted United States citizens from doing business in or with Cuba, and mandated restrictions on giving public or private assistance to any successor regime in Havana unless and until certain claims against the Cuban government are met. In 1999, U.S. President Bill Clinton modified the trade embargo by requiring that foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies stop trading with Cuba. He also authorized the sale of certain US products to Cuba.

At present, the embargo, which limits American businesses from conducting business with Cuban interests, is still in effect and is the most enduring trade embargo in modern history. Despite the existence of the embargo, the United States is the fifth largest exporter to Cuba (5.1% of Cuba's imports are from the US).

The government claims that the problems in Cuba stem from the embargo. However, Cuba can import products and services from most other places. Across the island, American brands are ubiquitous.