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The Cold War: Honors Essay

When Fidel Castro came to power in 1959, relations between the U. S. and Cuba rapidly transferred into bitter arguments, political grandstanding and the occasional international crisis. By 1960, Castro’s government had captured private land, nationalized hundreds of private companies, and taxed American products so greatly that U. S. exports were halved in just two years. The Eisenhower Administration responded by imposing trade restrictions on everything except food and medical supplies.

Castro extended trade with the Soviet Union instead. The U. S. responded by cutting all diplomatic ties. President Kennedy issued the permanent embargo on Feb. 7, 1962 and within a few years the country became its former self. The early 1960s were marked by s top-secret U. S. attempts to collapse the Cuban government. The Bay of Pigs was the CIA’s attempt to overthrow Castro by training Cuban exiles for a ground attack.

The worst moment in the countries’ relationship came on October 15, 1962 when U. S. spy planes found evidence that the Soviet Union was building missile bases in Cuba. President Kennedy learned of the threat the next day, and for the next 12 days the U. S. and Russia were stuck in the Cuban Missile Crisis. It ended only when Nikita Khrushchev accepted Kennedy’s secret offer to remove U. S. missiles in Turkey in exchange for the de-arming of Cuba. The Soviet missiles were gone within six months, but it would take a long time for America to forgive Cuba.

While Cuba lies less than 100 miles off the coast of Florida, the two nations have had no diplomatic relations since 1961 and use Switzerland as a mediator whenever they need to talk. But finally things might change. President Barack Obama announced that he would lift remittance and travel restrictions for those with family still in Cuba and that he would ease, but not remove, the 47-year-old embargo on the island nation. Obama also agreed to let telecommunications companies to pursue business in the country.

But the fate of the embargo rests in the sensitive hands of politicians, and no one is sure what Cuba’s reaction will be. President Raul Castro, who took over for his brother after Fidel underwent surgery in 2006, has also indicated that he would like to open a discussion with the U. S. himself. One positive effect of the current relationship between the U. S. and Cuba is that Obama is finally trying to ease the embargo with Cuba. This will allow the U. S. to trade with Cuba once again, which will benefit the U. S government.

Another ositive effect of the current relationship between the U. S. and Cuba is that the U. S. society can have their relatives who still live in Cuba come visit them since there are no more travel restrictions. One negative effect of the current relationship between the U. S. and Cuba is that the U. S. government still has to use Switzerland as a mediator whenever they want to talk with Cuba. Another negative affect of the current relationship between the U. S. and Cuba is that the U. S. government cannot fully remove the embargo because no one is sure what Cuba’s reaction will be.


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