The U.S. has maintained sanctions against the Republic of Cuba since 1962 after President John F. Kennedy imposed an economic trade embargo between the two countries.
A bipartisan effort, the sanctions are aimed at destabilizing an authoritarian regime long led by Fidel Castro and later his brother, Raul Castro.
Cuba continues to deal with the 60-year-old U.S. trade embargo, as well as even stiffer sanctions imposed by different administrations over the years.
In 2019, the Trump administration imposed 240 new measures that attempted to weaken the Cuban economy further, including a new cap on the amount of money that families in the U.S. can send their relatives in Cuba. A Cuban foreign ministry official said earlier this year that the 240 measures have cost Cubans $20 billion.
These sanctions and a history of U.S. propaganda against Cubans have been so harsh that they have made it hard for the county to get enough syringes to vaccinate its population against Covid and led to recent protests against the regime.
Here are five things you need to know about the U.S. sanctions on Cuba:
U.S. sanctions against Cuba started after Fidel Castro, who identified as a socialist, a Marxist, and a Leninist, overthrew a U.S.-backed regime in Havana in 1959. The 60-year-old sanctions on Cuba are the longest on record in the U.S. against any country.
In June, 184 countries at the United Nations general assembly voted in favor of ending the U.S.-Cuba economic blockade. Only the U.S. and Israel voted against the resolution. This was the 29th year in a row that the U.N. passed such a resolution without any action taken by the U.S.
The U.S. has launched propaganda against Cuba including using media outlets and social media platforms such as Facebook to spread pro-U.S. propaganda in the island nation. The CIA considered staging a false-flag bombing in Miami after thousands of Cubans fled to South Florida. The plot involved murdering a boatload of refugees, assassinating exiled leaders, and planting bombs in Miami — then blaming Castro for the chaos. The idea was to turn world opinion against Castro and possibly justify a U.S. military invasion, Miami New Times reported. Details of the plot were found in a summary about Operation Mongoose, a 1960 covert operation proposed by the CIA under President Dwight Eisenhower.
Growing discontent in Cuba has caused unprecedented protests in the country. Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel blamed the protests on U.S. “economic asphyxiation” and social media campaigns by a minority of counter-revolutionaries. President Joe Biden called the protests a “clarion call for freedom and relief”.
President Barack Obama took extraordinary steps to normalize U.S.-Cuba relations, meeting with leader Raul Castro and restoring full diplomatic ties. However, President Donald Trump largely reversed course, hitting Cuba with a raft of new sanctions.
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