ECONOMIC SANCTIONS: CUBA AND THE US

Yasmine M. Zdencaj
Memo # 4 - Cuba
October 23, 1998

Cuban developments in the 1960’s had a great impact on US /Cuban relations. During the slate 1950's and early 1960's, sugar made up eighty percent of Cuba's exports. The United States provided two-thirds of Cuba's imports and absorbed three-quarters of its exports. By October of 1960, the US government imposed a total embargo on exports to Cuba because of communist relations between Castro's regime and the Soviet Union. When the US government issued a full economic blockade against Cuba, in 1962, the USSR, came to the aid of Cuba, purchasing sugar supplies intended for the US. The economic sanctioning tools employed by the US have been criticized. Most believe the embargo only led to severe costs for the US, economically and politically. However, when interpreting the goals of US foreign policy makers, many conclusion will be drawn.
IN 1964, Secretary of State Dean Rusk defined the four goals as: 1) to reduce Castro’s ability to export subversion to the American States; 2) to show Cubans that Castro’s regime could not serve their interests 3) to Show American Republic that communism has no future in Western hemisphere; 4) to increase costs to SU in maintaining a communist outpost in western hemisphere. While analyzing Baldwin, Knorr, Huffbauer and Renwick's’ arguments, all agree with respect to US goals of economic sanctions against Cuba. The authors also agree that the economic impact on Cuba as well as the Soviet Union was severe. Where the authors differ is in their classification of a total failure. Although this comparison seems insignificant, it is actually severe considering authors are judging a major foreign policy tool of the US, by drawing conclusions form the total number of success/failure cases classified. Interpretation then, of what actually classifies as a success is thus significant.
Huffbauer states that in 1960 wide spread public demand in US retaliation against Cuba. In response Kennedy promised to do something about Castro. His statement goes on to include US intentions: “to destabilize the Castro regime, causing it’s overthrow or at minimum to make an example of the regime by inflicting as much damage on it as possible”(Huffbauer, 317). Over the next few years, US goals remained committed to containing and imposing costs on Cuba.
Scott Huffbauer begins his analysis by presenting statistical data in terms of costs and effects of the sender and target states. US goals, Cuba responses, economic impacts, and attitudes of other countries that Huffbauer states agree with Baldwin’s data; yet, according to Huffbauer’s assessment scale ( which he determines by his own scales of 1-4), economic sanctions failed, did nothing to contribute to Cuba’s change in domestic policy, and attributed major costs to the US, (Huffbauer, 314-321). Huffbauer, however, makes no mention what US costs would be if either a) the US did nothing or b) imposed military sanctions.
Baldwin’s theory of understanding the correct goals of the sender state in order to judge whether or not a sanction is effective, comes into play. Huffbauer clearly states that the US goals included imposing heavy costs on Cuba. His analysis goes on to show that from 1960- 1971, (an appropriate amount of time to judge how embargoes take effect), Cuba experienced a negative growth of 1.2 percent per year. Was the US not successful then imposing costs on Cuba when it’s growth declined 13.2 % in 11 years? Huffbauer even cites Losman who contends that “the embargo has been quit economically damaging,” (Huffbauer, 321). Clearly, Huffbauer is admitting that the US accomplished the intention of US goals.
Knorr, begins his analysis stating, “there is no question that Cuba economically suffered from the United States embargo”, (Knorr, 149). While explaining his theory of why economic sanctions fail, Knorr states that the functional purpose of economic measures employed is either to threaten or execute economic punishment in order to coerce.” If Knorr agrees that the US “probably succeeded if it simply wanted to punish Cuba” , how then can he classify this case as a “ultimate failure” as well as a failure to coerce when he,himself admits that they succeeded in punishment? Would it not at least be a “partial success” and deserve some credit for carrying out part of its intended goal?
The US was