What Should Be Done About the United States Embargo on Cuba?

The Council of American Ambassadors undertook an educational and cultural mission to Cuba from February 6-10, 2012.  The delegation—composed of 29 non-career Ambassadors, six spouses, one staff member and a paid consultant—met with a wide range of interlocutors, including representatives of the U.S. and Cuban governments, members of the Catholic and Jewish communities, health professionals and individuals actively engaged in civil society.

Following the trip, a questionnaire was distributed to the Ambassadors who participated in the mission. One question asked: “As a result of this trip what should be U.S. policy towards Cuba?” Twelve Ambassadors responded to the questionnaire as follows:

The United States embargo against Cuba was codified into U.S. law with the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992. The embargo limits American businesses from conducting business with Cuba and bans travel to Cuba by non Cuban-American citizens.

Of those surveyed, two Ambassadors were in favor of lifting the embargo, one was against lifting the embargo and nine—75 percent of respondents—favored modification or re-evaluation of the embargo. Those responding that the embargo should be modified or re-evaluated indicated wide variance in which specific provisions should be relaxed, e.g.:

  • Encouraging collaboration on medical and health issues;
  • Permitting and encouraging more U.S. travel to Cuba by specialist groups;
  • Encouraging market-based reform and political evolution through “carrots and sticks;”
  • Selling oil technology to Cuba; and
  • Easing the embargo in response to specific, tangible, fundamental and enduring reforms.

As a means of enriching the dialogue on this important topic, Ambassadors Perspectives is featuring commentaries by three Ambassadors who participated in the mission, which reflect the diversity of views associated with the embargo and changes to U.S. policy.