It may seem to most Americans that since Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy developed a U.S. embargo of Cuba, little has changed in the trade and travel restrictions between the two countries.
But, in their recent book, The Cuban Embargo: The Domestic Politics Of An American Foreign Policy, authors and Miami University political science professors Patrick J. Haney and Walt Vanderbush trace numerous presidential, interest group and congressional influences on the embargo over 45 years. A reviewer calls it "the most authoritative account to date of the history of the embargo since the 1980s."
Travel became easier, then harder. A groundswell to defeat the embargo, or parts of it, gained support in various political arenas from 1998-2003, then lost footing after Castro cracked down on dissenters and President Bush, needing voting support of Cuban Americans in Florida, tightened travel rules. Food and medications, payable only by cash, are the primary U.S. items allowed for sale to Cuba.
Haney and Vanderbush track the growth of the powerful Cuban American National Foundation and they track the more recent development of an anti-embargo coalition among citizens and Congress, even as the Helms-Burton Act and the George W. Bush administration have further tightened the embargo.
In a quirk that shows the fervency of embargo enforcement in recent years, the authors point out that the Office of Foreign Assets Control in the Treasury Department in 2003 had 24 employees assigned to embargo violations but four dedicated to investigating financing of Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.
Haney can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (513) 529-4321 and Vanderbush at email@example.com or (513) 529-2018.