The Instigator
Pro (for)
4 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
5 Points

The US Embargo on Cuba should be Lifted

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Post Voting Period
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after 2 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/4/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,008 times Debate No: 43391
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (2)




We can not possibly expect to have Cuba welcome and embrace our ideals if, for the last 150 years, we have been the source of the majority of the suffering and poverty in the nation. Let's first look at the reason communism even was able to develop in Cuba:

Cuba was initially controlled by Spain, until the late 19th century, when Cuban rebels overthrew their Spanish rulers. The US still wanted to maintain power over Cuba, especially because it was lucrative for US businesses to grow cash crops there. As a result, the Cuban people removed one tyrannical power, Spain, only to have another, the US control them. The US did not allow Cuba to pass any legislation without its approval, and thus the Cuban government was not able to place restrictions on the ruthless US corporations which bought up all of the arable Cuban land and forced Cuba's citizens to work for below minimum wage. Thus, the ground became set for a communist uprising, because the the tyrannical rule of the US in Cuba gave Cubans a bad impression of capitalism and US influence. The embargo only furthers this poor impression, and if we ever hope to have Cuba embrace our ideals, it is vital that we establish a friendship with the island, by lifting the embargo.


The United States should maintain the Cuba embargo because Cuba has not met the conditions required to lift it. Proclamation 3447 signed by President Kennedy on Feb. 3, 1962, established the embargo against Cuba to reduce "the threat posed by its alignment with the communist powers." The embargo was strengthened by the 1992 Cuban Democracy Act , and the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (Libertad) Act of 1996 (also known as Helms-Burton) which specified conditions for terminating the embargo. According to US law, Cuba must legalize all political activity, release all political prisoners, commit to free and fair elections in the transition to representative democracy, grant freedom to the press, respect internationally recognized human rights, and allow labor unions. Since Cuba has not met these conditions, the embargo should not be lifted.

Ending the embargo before the Cuban government meets the conditions specified by US law would make the United States look weak. Lifting the sanctions unilaterally would be an act of appeasement that could embolden Cuba to join forces with other countries such as Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, China, and Iran to promote anti-American sentiments or socialism in the Western Hemisphere. The United States should not risk sending the message that it can be waited out or that seizing US property in foreign countries, as Castro did in Cuba when he took power, will be tolerated.

The Cuban government has consistently responded to US attempts to soften the embargo with acts of aggression, raising concerns about what would happen if the sanctions were fully lifted. President Carter tried to normalize relations with Cuba by opening the US Interests Section (a de facto embassy) in Havana in 1977. Fidel Castro then orchestrated the Mariel Boatlift, which sent 125,000 emigrants (including criminals and mentally ill people) to the United States. In 2003, President George W. Bush began to ease restrictions for visiting family members in Cuba, but tightened the rules in 2004 in response to Cuba's crackdown against political dissidents. President Obama relaxed the US travel policy in 2009 to allow unlimited travel to Cuba to visit family members. That same year, the Cuban government arrested an American aid worker and sentenced him to 15 years in prison.

The embargo enables the United States to apply pressure on the Cuban government to improve human rights. Several international organizations have written about the long history of human rights abuses and repression in Cuba. At least 4,123 people were detained for political reasons in 2011, and an estimated 6,602 political detentions occurred in 2012. The Congressional Research Service reported that there are an estimated 65,000 to 70,000 prisoners incarcerated in Cuba as of May 2012 (although the Cuban government reports 57,337 prisoners) - among the highest in the world on a per capita basis. The freedom of expression and right to assemble are severely restricted by the government. The 1996 Helms-Burton Act stated that the United States has a "moral obligation" to promote human rights in keeping with the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the embargo is a bargaining tool.
Debate Round No. 1


I thank the con for his response.

The main problem with the argument which the con makes is that the con assumes the logical fallacy that: since Cuba has not yet adopted American values, continuing the embargo will somehow lead them to adopt American values.

The main issues with this argument are the following:

1) The embargo in fact pushes Cuba and its people AWAY from American values.

The embargo has been in effect for over 60 years with nothing to show for it, except for cold relations with Cuba. As I discussed in my opening argument, Cuba and America have a murky history together. America has served as a tyrannical figure throughout the history of Cuba, and as such America is viewed negatively by the Cuban people. Since the embargo effectively cuts Cuba off from any sort of significant American interaction or influences, the only symbols of the United States currently present in Cuba are those of the imperialist regime the US held in Cuba from the 19th-20th centuries, and the economic hardships which result from the US embargo. Thus, the embargo leaves NO positive images of the United States within Cuba, and, as such, rather than pushing Cuba towards US values, it is in fact pushing Cuba away from US values.

2) The embargo helps the Cuban government continue civil rights abuses by allowing the United States to serve as a scapegoat.

Imagine living in a relatively closed in country, whose economic frailty is due largely to a powerful neighbor who, in your eyes, has been bullying your country for the last two centuries. This is the image that many Cubans have of America, and it is the image of the US that the government is able to publicize thanks to the US embargo. It is true that many of the economic difficulties in Cuba are caused by the US embargo; however, many of the difficulties in Cuba are also caused by its government, I do not dispute this fact. However, the embargo in fact ENHANCES these government abuses, because suddenly, the government can start blaming all of its own mishaps on the US embargo, and thus further anti-US sentiment within Cuba.

Essentially, it is impossible for Cuba to develop a democratic system with American ideals in an embargo state. This is why it has not done so for the last 60 years under US embargo. If the US desires to spread its values to Cuba, then it must do so in an active and friendly manner, trying to restore the American image in the eyes of Cubans. The current status quo passive approach of simply letting Cuba sit there under US embargo and figure itself out is clearly ineffective, and instead of promoting democracy it is in fact pushing Cuba away from the path of democracy and into the hands of US rivals like China and Russia.

The Con, thus, must prove why or how the US embargo in any way promotes US values in Cuba, given the above statements.


Senator forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


Generall forfeited this round.


Cuba should be subject to sanctions because it is known to have repeatedly supported acts of terrorism. Cuba has been on the US "State Sponsors of Terrorism" list since 1982. The US State Department consistently finds evidence of Cuba's involvement in promoting violence, giving terrorists a safe haven, and harboring US fugitives. Members of the Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA), a terrorist organization that operates in Spain, live in Cuba. Black Panther activist and convicted murderer Joanne Chesimard, known as Assata Shakur, is one of 90 or more criminals who fled the United States and received political asylum in Cuba. In 1996, Castro's military shot down two American civilian aircrafts, killing four people. Cuba is believed to have supported armed insurgencies in Latin America and Africa.

Cuba has not demonstrated a willingness to negotiate in good faith with the United States. President Barack Obama stated in a Sep. 28, 2011 "Open for Questions" roundtable, "Now, what we've tried to do is to send a signal that we are open to a new relationship with Cuba" [W]e have to see a signal back from the Cuban government... in order for us to be fully engaged with them. And so far, at least, what we haven't seen is the kind of genuine spirit of transformation inside of Cuba that would justify us eliminating the embargo." Fidel Castro responded the following day by calling Obama "stupid" and saying, "Many things will change in Cuba, but they will change through our efforts and in spite of the United States. Perhaps that empire will fall first."
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by whiteflame 3 years ago
So, as I see it, the arguments in this debate often ignored what sanctions do and whom they affect, and this goes to both sides. Neither Pro nor Con attempted to explain how sanctions affect the people generally and the government specifically. Personally, I find that sanctions tend to do more harm to the people at large than the government, but since that never came up, it doesn't factor into my decision.

Both sides have also omitted any discussion of impact beyond the possibility of Cuba becoming a democracy, so that's where I focus my decision. It all comes down to Pro's arguments about how this hasn't happened under the embargo. I don't think that Con has a sufficient response to this. He doesn't provide a likely route with the current system for them to achieve democracy.

So now we're left with a bunch of arguments by Con that just leave me uncertain. Why haven't previous reductions to the embargo led Cuba to pursue the relationships Con purports will occur if they're completely removed? There's no brink here, and while this is an explained outcome, it's missing integral links to make it reasonable. What would Cuba's response to its removal look like? I see a lot of past examples, but from those, I get no clue as to the outcome of its complete removal. If anything, the response seems to be getting lesser and lesser with time. In fact, it seems like Raul Castro isn't likely to take any specific action whatsoever beyond small potshots like he did in 2009. Why is this anywhere near as important as their democratic development?

The last two points Con makes are brand new in the last round, so I don't give them much weight. Beyond that, they're both faulted. Why would terrorism increase in the absence of an embargo, or why is it harmful to remove the embargo with terrorism present in the country? The negotiation point seems to be more beneficial for your opponent, since they're not negotiating right now.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Tophatdoc 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro did not show how lifting the embargo would allow American values to spread. That is why I gave the debate to Con. Pro suggested it but yielded to back up the suggestion. Both sides forfeited, so no conduct point for either side. The Con side offered valid sources, so Con receives the source point. Good luck to you both in future debates.
Vote Placed by whiteflame 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Mostly given in comments. Since the democracy point is the only one with any sort of substantial impact that's agreed to throughout the round and argued by both debaters (despite minimal links on both sides), it's the basis for my vote, and Pro is most certainly winning it, if nothing else. Con needs to utilize his arguments more strongly, and not produce new arguments in the final round (hence the conduct vote).