If you prefer, you can read the whole Cuba report as a PDF by clicking here.
Summary: The embargo on trade with Cuba and Cuba’s status in the O.A.S. are under discussion.
Two issues are upcoming in relations between Cuba and the U.S.: the trade embargo imposed by the U.S. in 1960 (with its related issues of restrictions on travel to Cuba and restrictions on money sent there), and Cuba’s status in the Organization of American States. Both were raised in April at the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago. The O.A.S. will meet June 2-3, 2009.
By executive order, Obama has already relaxed restrictions on travel to Cuba by Cuban-Americans, and has increased the amount of money they can send to family members in Cuba. He has stated that before making further concessions, he hopes for reciprocal acts from Cuba: for example, the release of political prisoners and the reduction of the fees charged by the Cuban government for converting American dollars to Cuban currency. Discussion of the decades-long U.S. embargo of trade with Cuba seems likely. Since Congress must approve the lifting of the embargo, we can expect to see Obama attempting to build public support for such an action.
The other issue up for discussion is Cuba’s status in the Organization of American States. The treaty establishing the O.A.S. was signed in 1948. Like NATO, the organization was conceived as a defensive alliance to prevent the spread of communism. In 1962, after Castro took power in Cuba, the O.A.S. voted that Castro’s Marxist-Leninist ideology made Cuba’s goals incompatible with those of the O.A.S. The resolution stated that while the current government was in power, Cuba would retain its membership in the O.A.S. but would not be allowed representation or participation. This O.A.S. resolution has been challenged several times in the past decades, and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has said he will raise it again at this year’s O.A.S. meeting, June 2-3 in Honduras.
Let’s put these two issues in perspective by asking: Why was the embargo originally imposed in 1960? Is the situation now essentially different? What are the principles that should be considered when analyzing this situation and choosing a course of action?