Last updated on: 1/22/2024 | Author:

Should the United States Maintain Its Embargo against Cuba?

Since the 1960s, the United States has imposed an embargo against Cuba, the Communist island nation 90 miles off the coast of Florida. The embargo, known among Cubans as “el bloqueo” or “the blockade,” consists of economic sanctions against Cuba and restrictions on Cuban travel and commerce for all people and companies under U.S. jurisdiction. Maintaining, more strictly enforcing, and strengthening the embargo qualify as “pro” positions, while easing or eliminating the embargo qualify as a “con” position for this question. For more on the Cuba embargo, explore the ProCon debate.

PRO (yes)


Nikki Haley:

“Cuba and its allies do the same thing every year. They propose a resolution blaming Cuba’s poverty, repression, and lack of freedom on the United States. They falsely blame America for all kinds of evil things, even genocide. But this resolution changes nothing. It doesn’t help a single Cuban family. It doesn’t feed a single Cuban child. It doesn’t free a single Cuban political prisoner. Those who support this resolution every year have it wrong. Our reason for the embargo is and has always been Cuba’s denial of freedom and the denial of the most basic human rights for the Cuban people. The United States will continue to stand with the Cuban people until their rights and their freedoms are restored. Period. We won’t back down.”


United States Mission to the United Nations, “Ambassador Haley Delivers Remarks at a UN General Assembly Meeting on Cuba,”, Nov. 1, 2018


Donald Trump:

“Effective immediately, I am canceling the last administration’s completely one-sided deal with Cuba… Our new policy begins with strictly enforcing U.S. law. We will not lift sanctions on the Cuban regime until all political prisoners are freed, freedoms of assembly and expression are respected, all political parties are legalized, and free and internationally supervised elections are scheduled…

We will very strongly restrict American dollars flowing to the military, security and intelligence services that are the core of Castro regime. They will be restricted. We will enforce the ban on tourism. We will enforce the embargo. We will take concrete steps to ensure that investments flow directly to the people, so they can open private businesses and begin to build their country’s great, great future — a country of great potential.”


U.S. Embassy in Uruguay, “Remarks by President Trump on the Policy of the United States Towards Cuba,”, June 16, 2017

CON (no)


Joe Biden:

Ned Price, U.S. Embassy Havana Spokesperson: “The Administration’s policy towards Cuba continues to focus first and foremost on support for the Cuban people, including their human rights and their political and economic well-being. Today, the Administration announced measures to further support the Cuban people, providing them additional tools to pursue a life free from Cuban government oppression and to seek greater economic opportunities.

We will reinstate the Cuban Family Reunification Parole (CFRP) Program and further increase consular services and visa processing, making it possible for more Cubans to join their families in the United States via regular migration channels.

We will make it easier for families to visit their relatives in Cuba and for authorized U.S. travelers to engage with the Cuban people, attend meetings, and conduct research.

We will encourage the growth of Cuba’s private sector by supporting greater access to U.S. Internet services, applications, and e-commerce platforms. We will support new avenues for electronic payments and for U.S. business activities with independent Cuban entrepreneurs, including through increased access to microfinance and training.

We also will support Cuban families and entrepreneurs by enabling increased remittance flows to the Cuban people in ways that do not enrich human rights abusers. We will lift the family remittance cap of $1,000 per quarter and will support donative remittances to Cuban entrepreneurs, both with the goal of further empowering families to support each other and for entrepreneurs to expand their businesses.

With these actions, we aim to support Cubans’ aspirations for freedom and for greater economic opportunities so that they can lead successful lives at home. We continue to call on the Cuban government to immediately release political prisoners, to respect the Cuban people’s fundamental freedoms and to allow the Cuban people to determine their own futures.”

Editors’ Note: Biden has stated he would ease sanctions on Cuba: “I would. In large part, I would go back [to the Cuba policy set by President Obama that loosened sanctions]. I’d still insist they keep the commitments they said they would make when we, in fact, set the policy in place… [T]here’s no reason why we cannot still sanction them, but failing to recognize them at all is a different thing than sanctioning them.”


U.S. Embassy in Cuba, “Biden Administration Expands Support to the Cuban People,”, May 16, 2022
Source for Editors’ Note: Jim DeFede, “Joe Biden Confident He’ll Turn Florida Blue, Says He’ll Restore Obama-Era Cuba Policies in Exclusive CBS4 Interview,”, Apr. 27, 2020


Robert F. Kennedy, Jr:

“Earlier this month [Dec. 2014], President Barack Obama announced the restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba after more than five decades of a misguided policy which my uncle, John F. Kennedy, and my father, Robert F. Kennedy, had been responsible for enforcing after the U.S. embargo against the country was first implemented in October 1960 by the Eisenhower administration.

The move has raised hopes in many quarters – not only in the United States but around the world – that the embargo itself is now destined to disappear….

The embargo impedes economic development by making virtually every commodity and every species of equipment both astronomically expensive and difficult to obtain. Worst of all, instead of punishing the regime for its human rights restrictions, the embargo has fortified the dictatorship by justifying oppression. It provides every Cuban with visible evidence of the bogeyman that every dictator requires – an outside enemy to justify an authoritarian national security state. The embargo has also given Cuban leaders a plausible monster on which to blame Cuba’s poverty by lending credence to their argument that the United States, not Marxism, has caused the island’s economic distress.”


Robert. F. Kennedy, Jr., “Opinion: We Have So Much to Learn From Cuba,”, Dec. 30, 2014