Two years after Fidel Castro led a successful revolution in Cuba, the United States, under President John F. Kennedy, imposed a total commercial, economic, and financial embargo on that island nation. That embargo, which included prohibitions against Americans traveling to Cuba, remained firmly in place until finally lifted by President Barack Obama in 2014. El bloqueo (“the blockade”), as the Cuban people called it, was designed to isolate and strangle the Castro regime.
During the Kennedy Administration, the United States first imposed a complete trade embargo on all Cuban goods. This was expanded in 1962 to include the import of products containing Cuban goods, and later the prohibition of aid to any country that provided assistance to Cuba. The Cuban embargo’s most visible symbol was perhaps the illegality of obtaining Cuban cigars in the United States.
Part of the Cuban embargo was the travel ban, which was allowed to lapse under President Carter in 1977. However, President Reagan firmly re-established the tightest of restrictions on Cuba in 1982, the policy that lasted until 2014. The Cuban Embargo was enhanced in 1992 by the Helms-Burton Act, which attempted to penalize any foreign company that did business in Cuba, by preventing them from operating in the United States. The most serious problem with the Cuban Embargo is that the United States was the only nation to have such restrictions, as other nations have freely traded with Cuba for decades.