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Following an exchange of unfriendliness between the U.S. and Cuba shortly after the Revolution, the United States established an embargo on Cuba.  Over the years, alterations made to it transformed it into a partial blockade.

In Cuba today, nearly everyone refers to the U.S. law as an economic blockade.  However, in the United States, the government and the press call it an embargo.

Obviously these are differing things, so one of them must be wrong or at least partially inaccurate.

To decide which is right (if either), it is necessary to look at what each one means.  An embargo would imply that the U.S. is forbidding its companies from doing business with Cuba.  A blockade would mean that the U.S. is effectively preventing Cuba from doing business with other countries.

In the early years of the Revolution, an embargo was imposed on Cuba.  Eventually, this embargo prevented Cuba from importing American goods, and the U.S. from importing Cuban goods.  It also complicated manners for foreign companies doing business with Cuba.

Since then, the United States Government has made additions to the law.  The original law already prevented ships stopping in Cuba harbors from then coming to the U.S..

Today's laws do much more.  They prevent executives and their families of foreign firms doing business in Cuba involving U.S. property from entering the United States.  They also allow American companies with claims against Cuba to sue these companies.

In doing this, the U.S. has strongly discouraged many companies from doing business with Cuba.  Many are fearful of the U.S., even if they think they can get around the U.S. laws.

The OAS (Organization of American States) voted to suggest its members not trade with Cuba, entirely because of U.S. influence to do so.  Many of these countries' governments need American money and support, and so they are unable to make their own decisions on the Cuba issue.

Because these laws apply extraterritorially, the American action is a blockade.  However, it must be noted that this is not a full blockade, because trade is not militarily forbidden (though President Reagon suggested doing this) and some exchange still occurs.

Cuba now estimates the partial blockade has cost them as much as US$60 billion.  The cost of importing goods from distant countries and the inabilityto trade with the U.S. has caused great damage to the Cuban economy.

So, in answer to the question of who is right, the answer is neither.  Cuba only calls it an "economic blockade" which makes it quite close to the truth, but loopholes in the U.S. laws make it only a partial blockade. 

In 1992, the United Nations approved a resolution from Cuba that referred to the U.S. law as a blockade, and condemned its extraterritoriality.

For these reasons, the U.S. laws will be referred to as a blockade on this site.  We encourage you to post your opinion on our Political Opinions page.

See the opinion of a professor at the University of Havana.

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