Question of the economic, commercial and financial embargo

General Assembly
Question of the economic, commercial and financial embargo
imposed by the United States of America against Cuba
Student Officer:
Elisa Barkan
President Chair of General Assembly
On February 7, 1962 President John F. Kennedy signed the US embargo against
Cuba- This embargo, known by Cubans as “el bloqueo”, consists of economic sanctions
against Cuba and restrictions on Cuban travel and commerce for all people and
companies under United States of America (USA) jurisdiction.
Those in favor of the embargo believe it should not be lifted since Cuba has not
met the conditions, set by the USA, required to lift it. This also means that ending the
embargo before the Cuban government meets the conditions specified by USA law
would make the USA look weak. Some think the Cuban government has consistently
responded to USA attempts to soften the embargo with acts of aggression, raising
concerns about what would happen if the sanctions were fully lifted. Furthermore, the
embargo enables the United States to apply pressure on the Cuban government to
improve human rights. Additionally, since there is no private sector in Cuba, opening
trade would help the government but not the Cuban citizens. Moreover, the USA is able
to target the Cuban government with its embargo while still providing assistance to
Cuban citizens. Also, the uncertainty over who will succeed Raúl Castro makes it
doubtful for the USA to change its policy before a new leader is in place.
Those against the embargo believe the USA should end the embargo because its
50-year policy has failed to achieve its goals. Also, the embargo may be viewed as a
relic of the Cold War Era thinking and is unnecessary because Cuba does not pose a
threat to the USA. Additionally, the embargo not only harms the government of Cuba,
but also that of the USA, and the citizens of both countries. Furthermore, it is
hypocritical for the USA to have different trading and travel policies with Cuba than
with other countries with governments of policies it opposes. It is also hypocritical for
the USA government to promote democracy by prohibiting American citizens from
traveling to Cuba. Free trade, not the isolation of an embargo, is a more effective means
of promoting democracy in Cuba. Lifting the embargo would also put pressure on Cuba
to address problems that it had previously blamed on US sanctions.
Many member states have expressed an opinion that the embargo has subjected
the Cuban people to social, political, and economic damages. Also, the embargo may
have effects such as hampering efforts towards achieving the Millennium Development
Goals. These measures of coercion used regarding the sanctions go against the United
Nations Charter and the Assembly resolutions.
Nations must note all the Cuban boat people who have tried to, some
successfully, to travel to USA. Also, Raul Castro did permit economic changes, giving
Cubans some economic ‘freedoms’ and permitting them to have dollar accounts.
Furthermore, the USA has made some overtures to Cuba and permitted some
humanitarian aid but Obama has not lifted the embargo.
Definition of Key Terms:
Embargo: an official ban on trade or other commercial activity with a particular
Sanction: a threatened penalty for disobeying a law or rule.
Cold War: A state of political hostility between countries characterized by threats,
propaganda, and other measures short of open warfare. The state of political hostility
that existed between the Soviet bloc countries and the US-led Western powers from
1945 to 1990.
Major Countries and Organizations Involved:
Caribbean Community (CARICOM)
Has the mission to provide dynamic leadership and service, in partnership with
Community institutions and Groups, toward the attainment of a viable, internationally
competitive and sustainable Community, with improved quality of life for all in the
Caribbean area.
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
An intergovernmental organization, whose main goal is achieving food security
for all. Hence, their three main goals are: the eradication of hunger, food insecurity and
malnutrition; the elimination of poverty and the driving forward of economic and social
progress for all; and, the sustainable management and utilization of natural resources,
including land, water, air, climate and genetic resources for the benefit of present and
future generations.
Human Rights Council (HRC)
An intergovernmental body responsible for the promotion and protection of all
human rights around the globe.
Cuba, United States of America (USA)
Timeline of Events:
USA defeats Spain, which gives up all claims to Cuba and cedes it to the
Cuba becomes independent with Tomas Estrada Palma as its president,
but the Platt Amendment keeps the island under USA protection and
gives the USA the right to intervene in Cuban affairs.
Jose Miguel Gomez becomes president following elections supervised by
the USA, but it soon tarred by corruption.
USA forces return to Cuba to help put down black protests against
USA abandons its right to intervene in Cuba’s internal affairs, revises
Cuba’s sugar quota and changes tariffs to favor Cuba.
Castro leads a guerrilla army into Havana, forcing Batista to flee. Castro
becomes prime minister. Castro meets US Vice President Richard Nixon
on an unofficial visit to Washington. Nixon afterwards wrote that the US
had no choice but to try to “orient” the leftist leader in the “right
All USA businesses in Cuba are nationalized without compensation;
USA breaks off diplomatic relations with Havana and imposes a trade
embargo in response to Castro’s reforms.
US backs an abortive invasion by Cuban exiles at the Bay of Pigs; Castro
proclaims Cuba a communist state and begins to ally it with the USSR.
The CIA begins to make plans to assassinate Castro as part of Operation
Mongoose. At least five plans to kill the Cuban leader were drawn up
between 1961 and 1963.
Cuban missile crisis ignites when, fearing a US invasion, Castro agrees
to allow the USSR to deploy nuclear missiles on the island. The US
released photos of Soviet nuclear missile silos in Cuba – triggering a
crisis, which took the two superpowers to the brink of nuclear war. It was
subsequently resolved when the USSR agreed to remove the missiles in
return for the withdrawal of US nuclear missiles from Turkey.
Around 125,000 Cubans, many of them released convicts, flee to the US,
when Castro temporarily lifted restrictions.
USA tightens its embargo on Cuba, which introduces some market
reforms in order to stem the deterioration of its economy. These include
the legalization of the US dollar, the transformation of many state farms
into semi-autonomous co-operatives, and the legalization of limited
individual private enterprise.
Cuba signs an agreement with the US according to which the US agrees
to admit 20,000 Cuban a year in return for Cuba halting the exodus of
USA trade embargo made permanent in response to Cuba’s shooting
down of two USA aircraft operated by Miami-based Cuban exiles.
Nov 1999
Cuban child Elian Gonzalez is picked up off the Florida coast after the
boat in which his mother, stepfather and others had tried to escape to the
US capsized. A huge campaign by Miami-based Cuban exiles begins
with the aim of preventing Elian from rejoining his father in Cuba and of
making him stay with relatives in Miami.
June 2000
Elian allowed to rejoin his father in Cuba after prolonged court battles.
June 2001
Five Cubans convicted in Miami and given long sentences for spying for
the Cuban government. The case of the Cuban Five becomes rallying cry
for the Havana government.
Relevant UN Treaties and Events:
Sixty-eight General Assembly, Plenary, 38th and 39th Meetings
A/RES/47/19 to A/RES/68/8 on the issue of ending the embargo
Previous Attempts to Solve the Issue:
The only events that have taken place and aim at the lift of the embargo are UN
Possible Solutions:
Member States should encourage USA and Cuba to collaborate with each other
and along with the United Nations, set yearly goals to advance towards free trade and
improved democratic measures in Cuba. USA has tied to pressure foreign companies,
(that is non-USA such as Spanish tourist companies) with legal sanctions in US courts
for setting up businesses in Cuba, which falls under extraterritoriality. Thus, there is
more evidence of US actions against 3rd nations, like Spain, than any actions against the
US due to the US embargo. Member States could call for the US to not intervene in the
bilateral economic relationships between Cuba and 3rd nations. Keep in mind the USA
has no right to dictate economic accords between other sovereign nations.
It is recommended that delegates look at other cases of embargos in history, such
as those placed against Sudan, Iran and other Member States.
If the USA begins to develop economic ties with Cuba, there may be a greater
chance of influencing internal Cuban affairs through connections made. By seeing the
benefits of open trade with democratic countries the Cuban population might wish to
make a change in their government.
Each nation has right to sovereignty; Cuba’s sovereignty should be respected by
all nations, including the USA.
Useful Links:
"CSME." CARICOM Secretariat Mission Statement. N.p., n.d. Web. Oct. 2014.
"Cuba Embargo -" ProConorg Headlines. N.p., n.d. Web. Oct. 2014.
"Cuba Embargo -" ProConorg Headlines. N.p., n.d. Web. Oct. 2014.
"General Assembly Demands End to Cuba Blockade for Twenty-Second Year as Speakers
Voice Concern over Impact on Third Countries." UN News Center. UN, 29 Oct. 2013.
Web. Oct. 2014. <>.
N.p., n.d. Web. <>.
"Timeline: US-Cuba Relations." BBC News. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Oct. 2014.