In 1959, Fidel Castro led a successful revolution in Cuba and nationalized U.S.-owned sugar firms, oil refineries, and banks on the island (that is, he forcibly transferred their ownership from U.S. businesses to the Cuban government). In response, U.S. president John F. Kennedy ordered a partial embargo on Cuba in 1960. When Cuba formally allied with the Soviet Union – America's primary international rival – soon afterward, Kennedy ordered a full embargo.
Some form of embargo has remained in place since that time, though the specific policy has frequently changed. In 1966, the U.S. strengthened the embargo by cutting off food aid to any country that traded with Cuba; in 1977, the embargo was loosened when U.S. president Jimmy Carter briefly lifted the ban on U.S. travel to Cuba.
After the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, many argued the embargo was no longer justifiable as Cuba no longer posed a threat to U.S. national security. In 1992, however, Congress passed the Cuban Democracy Act, which strengthened the embargo by barring ships that had previously docked in Cuban harbors from entering the U.S. In 1996, the Helms-Burton Act legally codified the embargo (previously the embargo had been enforced by presidential order, and could be removed at any time by the president) and stated that the embargo would not be removed until Fidel and Raul Castro were removed from power.
Current State of the Embargo
In 2000, Congress passed the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act, which allowed some food and medicine to be exported to Cuba. President Obama has also relaxed parts of the embargo, loosening the ban on U.S. travel to Cuba and making it easier for Cuban-Americans to send remittances (cash payments) to their families in Cuba. Most of the embargo, however, remains in place.
A majority of U.S. citizens favor removing the trade embargo. However, it has been difficult for politicians to oppose the embargo due to the large number of pro-embargo Cuban-Americans in Florida, a vital swing state in presidential elections.
This file contains evidence supporting an affirmative plan that removes the embargo. There are two main strategies you can use to defend the removal of the embargo. Your two options are the Human Rights advantage or the Soft Power advantage. Unless you are exceptionally quick, you should choose one of these advantages and focus your energy on learning how to argue that case. Both of them have their merits, but time constraints will limit you to discussing one. Always remember to include your own analysis in addition to reading evidence. For simplicity’s sake, the next part of the explanation will divide based on which advantage you choose.
Human Rights Advantage:
The premise of this advantage is that the US embargo of Cuba is unfair and violates the human rights of people in Cuba (and also reduces the freedoms of American citizens). Cubans are denied access to critical medical supplies and other resources. Teams that choose this advantage will argue that the plan is morally necessary because the embargo punishes the people for the crimes of their government.
Soft Power Advantage:
This advantage is all about image. Soft Power is the component of US leadership derived from the ability to persuade and attract other countries, as distinguished from Hard Power that uses coercive force. A healthy balance of soft and hard power is necessary to maintain strong US leadership. The embargo has been condemned by the United Nations for the past 21 years, and is a source of animosity with our Latin American neighbors. Teams reading this advantage will argue that the plan is important to restore US Soft Power in Latin America and worldwide, and that this soft power will help preserve US leadership and thus prevent violent warfare.