JFK Signed the Cuban Trade Embargo 50 Years Ago

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on February 06, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

On February 7, 1962 -- fifty years ago -- President John F. Kennedy signed the Cuban Trade Embargo, strengthening a partial embargo that had existed since 1960.

The new terms of the Embargo would end almost all ties between the two governments. It would cut off trade and travel to Cuba; freeze Cuban assets in the U.S.; and impose sanctions on nations that offer assistance.

It would thoroughly weaken Fidel Castro's Communist regime.

The Cuban Trade Embargo has undergone some changes in the last 50 years. Entitled the Cuban Democracy Act, it was officially codified into law in 1992. Congress wished to make the Embargo permanent since there were few signs that Cuba was moving towards a democratized regime.

In 1996, Congress would pass the Helms-Burton Act, which imposed more restrictions on American citizens doing business in or with Cuba. It also imposed penalties on foreign companies and countries trading with the nation.

The U.S. has repeatedly come under fire for the latest of these additions. The U.N. General Assembly has adopted twenty consecutive resolutions calling for an end to the Cuban Trade Embargo. Its members believe the U.S. is overreaching, impinging on other nations' sovereignty.

Following in the footsteps of those before him, President Obama has refused to budge. Instead, his representative told the U.N. General Assembly that Cuba received $3.5 billion in U.S. goods in 2010. The U.S. also sent $861 million in humanitarian aid. It is Cuba -- not the U.S. -- that needs to change.

Whether that change will come is unknown. But in the meantime, the Cuban Trade Embargo looks like it's here to stay.

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