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An embargo in international trade is a government sanction or prohibition that restricts trade dealings or transactions with a foreign country. If an embargo is imposed, it can restrict exports or imports or both. The main reason for an embargo is a political punishment to a country (Barrionuevo, 2010). Embargoes can affect the domestic industries negatively due to the strict policies and regulations leading to retaliation.
The U.S in most cases uses embargo in many ways and especially on countries they consider to be training or sponsoring terrorists. A part from embargo, there are other less severe restraints to free trade which are common which includes tariffs and export duties.
The United States of America imposed an embargo on Cuban government led by Castro on February 7, 1962. This has remained to be one of the longest embargoes United State of America to have ever sanctioned a country in the world. The American president Barack Obama has maintained that, if the Cuban government does not improve on the human rights and freedom of her people, the embargo will remain. The embargo has limited chances of improving the condition in that country or bringing change; but it has been criticized by many countries to have brought more harm than good.
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The Cuban government has refused to allow democracy and respect for human rights hence her citizens are suffering (Shurtleff, 2009). The US government has warned its citizens from doing business in Cuba and restricted any private assistance unless some conditions are fulfilled by the Cuban government. The other negative impact is when Bill Clinton authorizes the sale of some humanitarian US food stuffs to the Cuban government in 2000 instead of giving the country as an aid (Vanderbush and Haneyrf, 2005).
Despite the embargo US government is still the fifty largest lead exporters to Cuba and it has forced the government to pay in cash as credit is not allowed to them. This has made the country economic and political operations unstable. The economic conditions of Cuba are deteriorating each year and the political scenario is worse due to the breach of human rights and democracy (Barrionuevo, 2010). A major set back faced US government in 1960 when Cuban government seizures all US properties and industries and nationalize all American privately owned property and businesses due this embargo sanction.
Immediately after the Cuban government nationalize American industries, the U.S. government reacted by reducing the Cuban quota of sugar by 700000 metric tons. However, the Soviet Union came in aid of Cuba and agreed to purchase the sugar. Since the law prohibits United States to take part in secondary embargoes, it has forced the country to stop transacting business with any other country involved directly with Cuban issues. These restrictive laws have prompted Arab countries to stop United States of America companies from transacting international business with Israel and Iraq (Vanderbush and Haneyrf, 2005).
Due to the new alignment between Cuba and Soviet Union, President John F. Kennedy directed executive orders and widens the scope of trade transactions restrictions in 1962. They also imposed travel restriction in response to Cuba partnering with Soviet nuclear weapons and machinery. The Cuban assets in US were frozen and the previous restrictions consolidated. This made Cuba to be expelled from being a member of the Organization of American States (OAS). This expulsion led to the protest from Mexico and Ecuador arguing that the ban was imposed by American government without consultation; this has made the membership suspension lifted on June 3, 2009 (Barrionuevo, 2010). The American ban to her citizens to travel to Cuba also lapsed. These regulations do not limit the US citizens to Cuba any season; but it prohibits any business transactions in Cuba before one acquires a license from US government Office of Foreign Assets Control.
Incase of any emergency arising in Cuba, the US government may be forced to lift the embargo so as to be allowed to distribute relief food or any aid to the country. The American government should build good relationship with other nations for instance the Cuban government so as to enhance democracy and human rights to all citizens. If embargo is not lifted, then the economic and political environment will not be favorable and foreign investors will not invest any more because of the risks involved (Shurtleff, 2009).
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Because of the sore relationship, American government can also use the countries with good diplomatic relation with Cuba or use non governmental organizations such as the Red Cross and the United Food Program (Barrionuevo, 2010). If US will be affected one day by a serious crisis like earthquake and floods which affected Haiti, it may be a crisis to them to get foreign aid because of poor relation with many nations especially the Arab nations. The US government is taking advantage of being a super power nation in the world to suppress the countries such as Cuba and only awaits to assist them when they are in trouble; but it will be difficult for them assist Cuba incase of a calamity. This is because many nations in the world believe that American does not help at all to solve challenges facing Cuba hence worsening the situation (Shurtleff, 2009). Due to poor infrastructure and lack of resources at Cuba, it will be challenging distributing humanitarian aid incases of calamities such as earthquakes and floods arising.
In conclusion, the US imposing an embargo has created more problems such as poor infrastructure, violation of human rights, poor governance, and reduced international trade among others. It has led to poor relations and in times of risks, it can cause a serious reaction from other countries against USA because of suppressing other countries instead of developing them. Cuba has lost many foreign investors and her relationship with other countries is sore (Vanderbush and Haneyrf, 2005).