90 miles of separation

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Separated by 90 miles of ocean, the United States and Cuba keep their distance. For the past 50 years, the US held an embargo against the dictatorial state. Cuba banned American tourism on their island.

In mid-January, the White House instituted new regulations that closed the gap between both countries. This agreement would allow:

Of course, many of the toughest trade restrictions between the two countries will remain. Only 12 categories of visitors may travel to Cuba including journalists, religious figures, and professors. Tourism remains illegal. Americans cannot open businesses in Cuba. Most of the imports will remain prohibited. Yet, these new regulations act as a  major change in the United States-Cuba relationship since 1961.

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The wet foot-dry foot policy, instituted in 1966, gave Cubans the unique opportunity to become American citizens once they hit American soil. In 1980, Fidel Castro allowed refugees, as well as criminals, people in Cuban mental hospitals, and homosexuals flee the country. They travelled the 90 mile exodus in boats, rafts and any other mode of seaward travel. During the period that the Fidel regime allowed Cubans to leave, over 125,000 people fled to Miami. These two million Cuban Americans hold strong opinions on the government who oppressed them and their families for so long, and inevitably link Cuba and the United States..In a poll conducted by FIU, 90% of Cuban Americans in Miami said that they want the US to normalize relations with Cuba. Many find this shocking considering that politicians have tried to woo the Cuban vote for years by promising to continue the embargo. However, strategists increasingly hope to normalize relations because the embargo has had no impact on Cuban politics. In President Obama’s last State of the Union, he said the last 50 years of embargoing Cuba failed. He implored Congress to try a different approach.

Meanwhile, proponents believe that the White House’s new rules give Cuba economic benefits even when Cuba has not given into the requests of former US administrations. Many say that this change should have only passed once Cuba agreed to release its political prisoners and allowed free elections. Normalizing relations with Cuba symbolizes an accepting of that government.

Now the question remains: should Congress end the 50-year-old embargo US has held? A vote in the United Nation General Assembly showed that 97 percent of the countries present disagree with the US embargo against Cuba. Although Cuba has not seen real change in its democratic process, new economic growth and access to the ideals of American culture could encourage change.

 

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