Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Proclamation 3447 – Embargo on All Trade with Cuba
Beginning in 1898, when Spain ceded Cuba to the United States following the Spanish-American War, the U.S. had a tight economic relationship with Cuba that revolved around trade and tourism. This relationship came to an end when Fidel Castro seized control of the country from Fulgencio Batista in January 1959.
Almost immediately, Castro began to restructure the government in a socialist mold and develop a relationship with the Soviet Union. “Relations between the United States and Cuba deteriorated rapidly as the Cuban regime expropriated U.S. properties and moved toward adoption of a one-party communist system,” writes the U.S. State Department.
Whereas the Congress of the United States, in section 620(a) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (75 Stat. 445), as amended, has authorized the President to establish and maintain an embargo upon all trade between the United States and Cuba; and
Whereas the United States, in accordance with its international obligations, is prepared to take all necessary actions to promote national and hemispheric security by isolating the present Government of Cuba and thereby reducing the threat posed by its alignment with the communist powers:
Now, Therefore, I, John F. Kennedy, President of the United States of America, acting under the authority of section 620(a) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (75 Stat. 445), as amended, do
1. Hereby proclaim an embargo upon trade between the United States and Cuba in accordance with paragraphs 2 and 3 of this proclamation.
2. Hereby prohibit, effective 12:01 A.M., Eastern Standard Time, February 7, 1962, the importation into the United States of all goods of Cuban origin and all goods imported from or through Cuba; and I hereby authorize and direct the Secretary of the Treasury to carry out such prohibition, to make such exceptions thereto, by license or otherwise, as he determines to be consistent with the effective operation of the embargo hereby proclaimed, and to promulgate such rules and regulations as may be necessary to perform such functions.
On December 17, 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro announced the beginning of a process of normalizing relations between Cuba and the United States, which media sources have named “the Cuban Thaw.” Negotiated in secret in Canada and Vatican City over preceding months, and with the assistance of Pope Francis, the agreement would see the lifting of some U.S. travel restrictions, fewer restrictions on remittances, U.S. banks access to the Cuban financial system, and the establishment of a U.S. embassy in Havana, which closed after Cuba became closely allied with the USSR in 1961.
The relationship between the United States and Cuba deteriorated following relationship came to an end when Fidel Castro seized control of Cuba from Fulgencio Batista in January 1959, he instituted socialism and developed stronger ties with the Communist Soviet Union. “Relations between the United States and Cuba deteriorated rapidly as the Cuban regime expropriated U.S. properties and moved toward adoption of a one-party communist system,” wrote the U.S. State Department.
In early 1960 President Dwight D. Eisenhower responded to the nationalization of US properties in Cuba, by instituting trade restriction. When Castro continued to take over US businesses the US prohibited all exports to Cuba on October 19, 1960. Before he left office in January 1961, Eisenhower broke all diplomatic ties with Cuba.
John F. Kennedy maintained the policies that the Eisenhower administration had implemented, and on February 3, 1962 signed Proclamation 3447 which placed an embargo on all trade with Cuba. That embargo has remained in place for 52 years.
On December 17, 2014, President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro, Fidel Castro’s brother, announced that the two countries will begin normalizing relations. The so-called “Cuban Thaw” will reduce some U.S. travel restrictions to Cuba, ease restrictions on the funds Cuban-Americans send to their families in Cuba, and lead to the establishment of a U.S. embassy in Havana.
History Side Note:
John F. Kennedy enjoyed smoking good Cuban cigars. On February 2, 1962 Kennedy summoned Pierre Salinger into his office and told his Press Secretary to find and buy buy 1,000 Cuban Cigars in 24 hours. When Salinger returned to the Oval Office the following morning he reported to the President that he had succeeded in purchasing 1,200 cigars. JFK expressed his pleasure, then opened his desk drawer, pulled out Proclamation3447, and signed it.
Sources in this Story
- U.S. State Department: Background Note: Cuba
- PBS: Fidel Castro: Timeline: Post-Revolution Cuba
- University of California, Santa Barbara: The American Presidency Project: Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill and Proclamation Relating to the Cuban Sugar Quota
- Council on Foreign Relations: U.S.-Cuba Relations
- NPR: 10 Presidents, One Dictator: U.S.-Cuba Policy
In spring 1960, President Dwight D. Eisenhower approved a plan that would place embargoes on sugar, oil and guns. That June, under orders from the Eisenhower administration, U.S. oil companies in Cuba refused to refine oil delivered by the Soviet Union; Castro responded by nationalizing oil refineries. The next day, Eisenhower reduced the quota of Cuban sugar by 95 percent.
Castro continued to nationalize U.S. businesses and commercial properties, and grow closer to the Soviet Union. On Oct. 19, the Eisenhower administration retaliated with a unilateral embargo on all exports to Cuba.
In January 1961, just before leaving office, Eisenhower broke off U.S. diplomatic relations with Cuba. “Since 1961, the official U.S. policy toward Cuba has been two-pronged: economic embargo and diplomatic isolation,” writes the Council on Foreign Relations.
Eisenhower’s successor, John F. Kennedy, maintained the hard-line economic stance against Cuba. In February 1962, his administration expanded the trade embargo to cover all trade with Cuba. The following February, Kennedy issued a ban on travel to Cuba.
The economic and travel embargoes were intended to put pressure on the Castro government and weaken his rule. Castro, however, spent nearly 50 years in office, outlasting 10 U.S. presidents, before stepping down due to ailing health in 2008.
“A consensus is emerging among Cuban-Americans that ‘current policy has failed and that neither the Cuban nor the U.S. government has any business getting in the way of individuals,’” according to the CFR. Nevertheless, the U.S. has continued to renew the trade embargo.
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